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Book Review: The 360 Degree Leader

Book Review: The 360 Degree Leader
360 Degree Leader

    A John C. Maxwell book published by Nelson Business 2005, 313 pages, Nonfiction, Business, Leadership and Personal Development, Includes bibliographical references.

    I’m not certain if the motivation for the focus of this book is to unselfishly provide growth insights to those in middle management or a cunning device to target the very people who buy the most books about growth and leadership, but much of Maxwell’s book is devoted to leading from the middle.

    Either way the result is the same.

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    Who buys the most books about leadership and personal growth? Those who are in middle leadership positions that desire to their job better and possible go further in their chosen field.

    Who needs the greatest understanding of leadership models and personal development? Those who are in middle management positions that desire to do their job better and possibly to advance.

    Reality is probably a blend of the two and Maxwell does a good job of providing what both audiences want. A nice handbook on leadership from every direction (leading your subordinates, building you superior, enhancing your peers).

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    Maxwell examines two tenets of leadership which you may find you feel you have conflicting emotions (I know i did).

    Maxwell believes that those who are deficit in leadership skills tend to hoard their information. They protect their work from peers, supervisors and subordinates in order to make sure they receive their due credit for the work they have done.

    He also believes that true leaders share everything. They share their best ideas, their hardest work, their most invested projects with everyone from every level in order to provide for the good of all. He feels this type of leader will ultimately reap the benefits of their unselfish and dedicated efforts and, like cream, rise to the top.

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    Here is where I feel torn. I really, really want to embrace this as truth. i want to believe that selfless dedication and talent will ultimately be rewarded.

    On the other hand, I think of the countless instances in which the work of one of my peers (or myself, for that matter) has been claim jumped by someone else in an organization who rode it to the next level on the pay scale.

    So, even though I strongly desire to embrace his positive message, I have my reservations.

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    One of the most interesting facets of the book is actually concealed under the back dust cover. If you purchase the book you get access to an online profile of your leadership beliefs and styles. Inside the rear dust jacket is the authorization code to gain you access to a twenty minute survey about your leadership. The difference between this and all the other surveys out there is the option to have a questionnaire to have several other surveys about YOUR leadership skills sent to your supervisor, your peers and your subordinates. They then rate you on the same skills in which you rated yourself. The results are then compiled and submitted to you. This will provide you with the 360 degree snap shot of your leadership.

    The catch? It costs about a hundred bucks to have the second part of the leadership survey done. But, if you work in a progressive field you may be able to convince your organization that they should cover the expense as an investment in their leadership growth program. At least that’s what I told my boss.

    The 360 Degree Leadership

    Reg Adkins writes on behavior and the human experience at (elementaltruths.blogspot.com).

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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