Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live


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Who Should Read “Be Excellent at Anything”? And Why?

Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. My personal favorite.

Creativity You may never be as funny as Danny McBride, but you can be as prolific Creativity Vertical video has won so much, Samsung made a concert stage optimized for your phone. Design Co. A small central management team supports and coaches the frontline nurses; there is no other middle management.


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The company achieves the highest client satisfaction levels of all community nursing delivery in the Netherlands, at only 70 percent of the usual cost. Patients stay in care half as long, heal faster, and become more autonomous themselves. And the nurses gain skills not just for leading their part of the enterprise, but in community leadership as well.

Tony Schwartz - The Energy Project

Be honest and open about information. The management structure traditionally adopted by large organizations evolved from the military, and was specifically designed to limit the flow of information. In this model, information truly equals power. The trouble is, when information is released to specific individuals only on a need-to-know basis, people have to make decisions in the dark. They do not know what factors are significant to the strategy of the enterprise; they have to guess. And it can be hard to guess right when you are not encouraged to understand the bigger picture or to question information that comes your way.

Moreover, when people lack information, it undermines their confidence in challenging a leader or proposing an idea that differs from that of their leader.


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Some competitive secrets for example, about products under development may need to remain hidden, but employees need a broad base of information if they are to become strategic leaders. Among the companies that use this practice are Southwest Airlines, Harley-Davidson, and Whole Foods Market, which have all enjoyed sustained growth after adopting explicit practices of transparency. Transparency fosters conversation about the meaning of information and the improvement of everyday practices.

If productivity figures suddenly go down, for example, that could be an opportunity to implement change. Coming to a better understanding of the problem might be a team effort; it requires people to talk openly and honestly about the data. If information is concealed, temptation grows to manipulate the data to make it look better. The opportunity for strategic leadership is lost. Worse still, people are implicitly told that there is more value in expediency than in leading the enterprise to a higher level of performance. Strategic leaders know that the real power in information comes not from hoarding it, but from using it to find and create new opportunities for growth.

Create multiple paths for raising and testing ideas. Developing and presenting ideas is a key skill for strategic leaders. Even more important is the ability to connect their ideas to the way the enterprise creates value. By setting up ways for people to bring their innovative thinking to the surface, you can help them learn to make the most of their own creativity.

Of course, it can also be counterproductive to allow people to raise ideas indiscriminately without paying much attention to their development. So many ideas, in so many repetitive forms, might then come to the surface that it would be nearly impossible to sort through them. The best opportunities could be lost in the clutter.

Instead, create a variety of channels for innovative thinking. There could also be apprenticeships, in which promising thinkers, early in their careers, sign on for mentorship with leaders who are well equipped to help them build their skills. Some organizations might set up in-house courses or sponsor attendance at university programs. Reverse mentoring — in which younger staff members share their knowledge of new technology as part of a collaboration with a more established staff member — can also be effective.

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Google has made use of a number of channels to promote innovation. People at Google learn to make the most of these opportunities — they know the conversations will be tough, but that genuinely worthwhile innovative thinking will be recognized and rewarded. The next four principles involve unconventional ways of thinking about assessment, hiring, and training.

Make it safe to fail. That works well until there is an actual failure, leading to a genuine loss. Those who fail often suffer in terms of promotion and reward, if not worse. You must enshrine acceptance of failure — and willingness to admit failure early — in the practices and processes of the company, including the appraisal and promotion processes. For example, return-on-investment calculations need to assess results in a way that reflects the agreed-upon objectives, which may have been deliberately designed to include risk.

Strategic leaders cannot learn only from efforts that succeed; they need to recognize the types of failures that turn into successes. They also need to learn how to manage the tensions associated with uncertainty, and how to recover from failure to try new ventures again. Honda is one enterprise that has taken this approach to heart. Like several other industrial companies, the automaker has had a dramatic, visible failure in recent years. The installation of faulty equipment from its favored airbag supplier, Takata, has led Honda to recall about 8.

The problem was the lack of attention to the failure at an early stage, when it could have been much more easily corrected.

Provide access to other strategists. Give potential strategic leaders the opportunity to meet and work with their peers across the organization. Otherwise, they remain hidden from one another, and may feel isolated or alone. The first step is to find them.

Strategic leaders may not be fully aware themselves that they are distinctive. But others on their team, and their bosses, tend to recognize their unique talents. Instead, cultivate the idea that many managers, perhaps even most, have the potential to become strategic leaders. Then bring the first group together.

Invite them to learn from one another, and to explore ways of fostering a more strategic environment in the rest of the enterprise. Develop opportunities for experience-based learning. The vast majority of professional leadership development is informative as opposed to experiential. Although traditional leadership training can develop good managerial skills, strategists need experience to live up to their potential. Bring together a team of potential strategic leaders with a collective assignment: to create a fully developed solution to a problem or to design a new critical capability and the way to generate it.

Give them a small budget and a preliminary deadline. Have them draw plans and financial estimates of their solutions. Francis 's review Mar 10, This is year where I'm making a big push to thrive in all aspects in my life - and I'm just beyond delighted to have chanced upon this book. Tony Schwartz offers practical tips on how to best manage our personal and professional lives - substantiated with empirical evidence and case studies through his work with companies such as Visa - to really be able to excel at anything we set our minds on.

Keynotes & Press

There are solid action steps at the end of each chapter which is great for helping to crystallize and bring together the key ideas that were discussed. In particular, I loved the sections on left and right-brain differentiation and how we can best tap into the creative side of our brain so that we can see the big picture.

Also, the chapter that makes us deeply reflect on how we're spending our energies vs. You'd either be surprised by how your actions actually don't reflect your values or how strategic and purposeful you have been living your life.

Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live
Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live
Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live
Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live
Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live
Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live

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