The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Synopsis of Content: 

The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a blueprint for how to effectively improve something through the establishment of a key goal, develop a system for measuring performance of the goal, and then following through with its execution. The authors advise focus on no more than three goals and if possible only one. They argue that too many goals dilute effort too much resulting in too little being achieved toward any one goal. To really effectively achieve a significant goal requires a high level of focus and that happens best with three or fewer such goals.

The approach is to develop a big goal, something vitally important. They call this a WIG which stands for “wildly important goal”. Once the goal is identified it is necessary to develop certain measurements to determine if the goal is being achieved.

The first measurement is the “lag measures”. This measurement tells you if you are achieving the actual goal. For example if the goal is lose 25 pounds then the lag measurement is losing 25 pounds. This is the ultimate measurement of achievement.

Next you must identify those actions that will most likely enable you to lose 25 pounds. As an example those actions may include restricting daily calorie intake to 1800 calories and increasing exercise to 5 miles of walking or running each day. These are called the “lead measures”. For this goal then the lead measures are calories consumed per day and miles walked or run per day.

The next step is to measure performance on the lead measures every day and track both the lead measures and the lag measure to determine performance and achievement of the goal. It is important to post these measurements on some form of graph or table where everyone involved in the goal can see how they are doing. Participants are held accountable for their contribution to the lead measures at a weekly WIG meeting where the posted data is reviewed and each participant’s contribution is reviewed.

This system was developed primarily for organizations and teams within organizations. However at the end of the book the authors discuss case studies to show how the same system can be used for personal goals.

Throughout the book case studies are presented showing how this method helped various companies and organizations to improve their performance, often in substantial ways. It builds cohesion and accountability in the team, or if done by an individual for that individual.

What I found useful about this book:

The focus on finding ways to measure the actual actions needed to achieve a goal is very helpful whether you are working with an individual goal or a team goal. The way the system fits together and accurately measures performance as well as accountability is an elegant and powerful concept. The real life examples show that it can really work in the real world.

Readability/Writing Quality: 

The book is well organized and well written. It provides all the information needed to understand the method and what makes it work.

Notes on Author:  

Chris McChesney works at FranklinCovey as a Global Practice Leader for design and development of the 4 Disciplines method.

Sean Covey is Executive Vice President at FranklinCovey and directs its international operations in 141 countries. He was involved in the original creation of the 4 Disciplines methodology.

Jim Huling is a consultant with FranklinCovey working with the 4 Disciplines. He has worked in corporate leadership in Fortune 500 companies and privately held companies.

Related Website: 

http://the4disciplinesofexecution.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Identify the most important improvement you can make or the biggest problem you need to solve in your organization or your personal life. Create a Wildly Important Goal to address that improvement or problem and then use lead and lag measurements to track progress and motivate follow through.
  2. All organizations can measure the performance of their employees and their teams on a bell curve with high performers on the right side, poor performers on the left side, and the average performers in the middle. Use the 4 Disciplines to move that bell curve to the right – to make everyone more effective performers.
  3. Measurement of the attainment of the goal and the actions needed to get there are key to motivating people and achieving an important goal.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Copyright holder: © 2012 by FranklinCovey Co.

Publisher: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month: December 2015

You can buy the book here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

You Can Train Your Brain to Think Better

James Clear in a recent post tells the story of how physicist Richard Feynman developed the ability to solve mathematical problems that most PhD students could not solve. Feynman had developed a different mental model to solve these problems. A mental model is a concept or framework of thought. The supply and demand concept is a mental model in economics for example. Game theory is another mental model. Entropy is a mental model that helps us understand how disorder and decay function in nature.

Though mental models help structure our thinking and can be very helpful they are also sometimes flawed. At the least they can be limiting. Another way of looking at it is that mental models are not perfect. No mental model can answer all questions in a field or solve all problems. Clear argues that the best mental models are those that have the greatest utility. The more mental models you have in your brain the more tools you have to solve problems. One weakness is that the more you master a single mental model the more likely you will be stumped at some point. As the old saying goes, if all you have is a hammer than everything looks like a nail.

You can expand the number of mental models you use by reading good books, studying fundamentals in unrelated fields of thought and learning from people who have widely different life experiences. We tend to think in silos – in individual disciplines: math, biology, economics, philosophy, etc. Creativity and problem solving often does better at the intersection of these disciplines, not merely within them.

Clear argues that you need not master all these disciplines. You need only learn the most important mental models in each silo and then work with them together. Clear has even created a list of the some the more important mental models in a number of disciplines.

This is not a new idea. The foundation of the classical liberal arts education was to learn the basics in a number of fields of study to “round out” one’s understanding of how the world works. The more mental models you possess the more tools you have to think with.

Read Clear’s entire post here.

I will write more about mental models in future posts. The more mental models you develop the more versatile and creative your thinking can be.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino

Synopsis of Content: 

This is a story within a story. Although it is written in a religious context it should not be rejected as a religious tract. It is much more than that.  The narrative is a fictitious account of Zacchaeus at the time of Jesus. Zacchaeus is mentioned in the Book of Luke of the New Testament as a tax collector who climbed a tree to glimpse Jesus as he entered Jericho. According to the biblical story Jesus spends the evening having dinner with Zacchaeus and discusses salvation.

In Mandino’s version of the story Zacchaeus is a small crippled man born in poverty and great disadvantage due to his deformities. Despite his being ill-treated and living in poverty as a child he learns to be successful – so successful that he becomes the richest man in Jericho. He is charitable and well-liked by the people, especially the less fortunate he helps. The story is narrated by his good friend and bookkeeper, Joseph. Zacchaeus teaches Joseph and others the secrets to success through example and through lessons. In time he is asked to teach the people these lessons more formally and he has them written on the wall that surrounds the city.

The Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, does not like Zacchaeus’ popularity and forces him to become a tax collector or publican because he knows the people hate tax collectors. Zacchaeus does not want this job but has no real choice but to do it, and he does it with fairness and kindness as he does all his work. It is then that he meets the preacher Jesus and experiences a personal transformation.

Mandino was a devout Christian and wanted to present this story in the context of his religious beliefs and especially in the context of this encounter between Zacchaeus and Jesus. Within this story however he conveys the secrets to success that Zacchaeus taught to others. In the end Zacchaeus follows Jesus’ teaching and gives away all his wealth and resigns as tax collector. Yet Mandino never really reconciles the two great lessons of the book: the lessons of financial success that Zacchaeus taught and the ultimate lesson Zacchaeus learns leading him to renounce the wealth and the financial success.

The “ten commandments of success” that Zacchaeus lays out are familiar to anyone who has read about success. They are very similar to the lessons written about in the Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. That book is also a fictitious story set in ancient times.

If you are Christian you may find the story inspirational on a spiritual level. If you are not Christian you will still benefit from the story – it inspires in ways beyond Christian doctrine. It is a short book, just 96 pages in paperback, but well worth reading.

What I found useful about this book:

The classic “commandments” of success are classics. They align with most of the great writing on personal success both before and after this book was published in 1981. For anyone interested in personal success they are very useful.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written and easy to follow. It is a story and well written stories are always easy to follow.

Notes on Author:  

Og Mandino flew in a bomber plane during WWII and went on to be a successful salesman, author and lecturer. In fact he became a hugely successful writer and speaker on success and sales.

Other Books by This Author:

Mandino wrote a number of books the most famous being The Greatest Salesman in the World.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Through application of the principles that lead to success even the most disadvantaged person can overcome obstacles and attain success. Those principles include hard work, patience, the need to plan, the need to save in good times for hard times, the power of persistence, the need for action to execute plans, avoid wasting time and mental energy worrying about the past or future, avoid hording possessions, and striving to be yourself.
  2. We need others to succeed and it is therefore critical to treat others fairly and well.
  3. While achieving material success is important one must also pay attention to one’s spiritual needs.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino
Copyright holder: 1981 by Og Mandino
Publisher: Bantam Books

This review was published first on 11.06.15 as the November 2015 Book of the Month

You can buy the book here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Financial Tips for Disabled Persons

CPA Brittany Fisher sent me some websites that provide information which might be helpful for disabled persons. I have not independently verified the reliability of these sites so I suggest if you see information on them you verify the information from other sources. The sites do appear to be legitimate. I always suggest that you not rely on any one source of information for something as important as your finances. However you may find some useful information here, and some of this information is useful for persons who are not disabled.

Money Management for People with Disabilities
https://www.disabilityadvisor.com/money-management-for-people-with-disabilities/

Securing a Home Mortgage Loan with a Disability
https://www.mortgagecalculator.biz/resources/disabilities.php

Earned Income Tax Credit: Know if You Qualify
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/can-you-take-earned-income-tax-credit/

Grants for Home Modification: 16 Resources for Homeowners with Disabilities
http://www.homeadvisor.com/r/grants-for-home-modification/

VA Loan Grants and Waivers for Disabled Veterans
http://www.military.com/money/va-loans/va-loan-grants-and-waivers-for-disabled-veterans.html

A Guide for Disabled Homebuyers
https://www.redfin.com/blog/guide-for-disabled-home-buyers

A Special Needs Trust Provides for Disabled
http://www.bankrate.com/retirement/a-special-needs-trust-provides-for-disabled/

If you have questions of Ms Fisher you can contact her at brittany_fisher@financiallywell.info

Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Do Nice Guys (and Gals) Finish First or Last?

google.com/clipart

You have all heard the axiom “Nice guys finish last”. But is that true?

Eric Barker examined this question in his recent book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Barker likes to look at what science has to teach us about things like success.

Wharton School professor Adam Grant looked into the research on this question. He divided people into three categories: Givers, Takers and Matchers. Givers were people who most often gave to others and helped others – they were nice guys. Takers more often took from others and Matchers tried to balance their giving and taking.

In studies of professionals he first found that givers (nice guys) often finished poorly. The missed deadlines, got lower grades and closed fewer sales. But this was not all he found. He also found that on the other side of the spectrum givers did best. People who constantly found ways to help others were the ones who scored best on success metrics. Takers and Matchers he found scored in the mid-range. So some nice guys finished last but some finished first.

Grant found that the difference between givers who succeed and those that fail is not random. He found that in the very short term Takers can succeed. Being a bully or a cheat may work for a little while. It does not appear to be an effective long term strategy though. Givers trust others and can create an atmosphere of trust in a social group. People working together with trust can accomplish much more than one person working alone. The research also showed that people who “chunk” their giving so they are not giving all the time do better. Volunteer three hours a week on one day and reserve the rest of your time to meeting your own needs rather than volunteering every day, for example. So to be a Giver who succeeds you should budget your giving – that is not do it all the time. We have all known those people who give all the time and neglect their own needs.

Barker also found that givers were most often rich. Arthur Brooks studied the connection between charitable giving and wealth and found that the more people gave the more wealth they earned. The question then arises, are Givers getting rich because they are Givers, or are they Givers because they are rich and can afford it. This raises the question about cause and effect.

All of these studies are based on correlations. Correlations can point to a cause and effect dynamic but they do not necessarily do so. The kinds of rigorous studies that would actually demonstrate genuine cause and effect have not been done in this area. Scientists agree that if you have enough correlations, if they repeat over and over, they probably are showing some form of cause and effect.

I hope that most of us think it is proper to be a Giver or a nice person because it is morally correct. If it pays off with more success for us that is a bonus.

You can read more about this and a lot more about what science tells us about success in Barker’s book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Building Good Habits

Building good habits can be very hard. It is especially hard to replace a bad habit with a good one. Eric Barker wrote a good post on his blog, Barking Up the Wrong Tree recently discussing the science on this.

We all have habits. Many of them. Some are good like brushing our teeth. Some are not so good like watching too much TV. Some are just bad, like eating too much rich food and gaining weight. Wouldn’t you like to break some of your bad habits and replace them with good ones? I will guess you’ve tried that before and found it hard, very hard. You likely failed.

What if you had the benefit of science to show you how to do it effectively?

A lot has been written about creating and ending habits. Barker’s work is good because he draws on science to support his ideas. In a nutshell the science suggests the following about how to change or create a habit:

  1. Change in small steps – it is easier and works better.
  2. Get support – social support and social competition encourages us to change – think about Alcoholics Anonymous.
  3. Ask yourself why this change is important to you. You will not be motivated to change unless you think it is important.
  4. Make the process as easy on yourself as you can.
  5. Act before you think. Don’t try to change your mind so your behavior will change; change your behavior and your mind will change.
  6. Reward yourself.
  7. Build a routine.

These steps sound simple. They are simple, but they are also complex. They require you to follow certain steps in a certain way. Those steps and that way of doing them has been scientifically studied and proven to work.

Sean Young, PhD wrote a book: Stick with It – A Scientifically proven process for changing your life – for good. Young is an award-winning psychologist and director of the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior.

B.J. Fogg wrote a book called Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change the Way We Think and Do. Fogg is a PhD scientist whose student, Mike Krieger, founded Instagram.

Howard S. Friedman PhD, and Leslie R. Martin, PhD, wrote the Longevity Project to discover how and why live long and are healthy.

These are but four of the scientists that Barker cites for the scientific studies that support the thesis of how to form habits. This is not anecdotal advice. It is science. It has been proven to work. Science does not make the task of changing and creating habits easy. It requires effort. It requires commitment. It requires persistence. But science teaches us what works.

So if you want to make progress in changing your habits learn from what science as shown to work and not work. You can read Barker’s full post here: http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2017/07/build-good-habits/
Good luck. Have fun. Make it happen.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell

Synopsis of Content: 

Based largely on his own experiences as a leader in both nonprofit and for profit enterprises Maxwell sets out 26 “lessons” on how to be a better leader. He suggests that being an effective leader requires one to improve oneself and to lead oneself first. He provides anecdotes from his own experiences and quotations from other notable leaders to frame each lesson.

Some of these lessons are about how to be successful in one’s work. He counsels you to find your passion – an area of work you love to do – and then to pursue it with full commitment. He offers particular skills a good leader must develop including being a good listener, the need to “define reality” and steer others in accordance with that reality and to keep your focus on your primary goals.

There are chapters on time management, which he calls life management; how to develop others and how not to; how to learn from mistakes; the importance of continuous learning; how to distinguish oneself as an effective leader in tough times; how best to run a meeting; and many other such lessons.

Maxwell’s original profession was as a pastor and there is a preachiness to his writing. If you can get past that there is much of value in what he teaches.

What I found useful about this book:

The book goes deeply into the various aspects of leadership. It teaches what not to do as much as what to do. He uses real world examples to illustrate the principles he teaches. Being an effective leader is much about being an effective person. It is about improving one’s skills and understanding of others as well as understand oneself. He does a good job of balancing these things.

Readability/Writing Quality: 

The book is well written and edited. It is easy to read and is well organized.

Notes on Author:  

Maxwell is a pastor, speaker, coach and author. He was declared by Inc. magazine to be the most popular leadership expert in the world in 2014. He leads several organizations that teach leadership around the world.

Other Books by This Author:

Maxwell is a prolific writer. He has written over 40 books.

Related Website:   

http://www.johnmaxwell.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Your ability to become a better leader is based on how you respond to others and to circumstances.
  2. The first person we must examine is ourselves. If you do not look at yourself realistically you will never understand where your personal difficulties lie.
  3. Listen carefully to those you lead. Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell
Copyright holder: ©2008 John C. Maxwell
Publisher: Nelson Books

Book of the Month: August 2015

Buy the book here–

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Gaztelugatxe

A Basque word, Gaztelugatxe means “it’s a lot of effort, but worth it”. Seth Godin recently posted on this concept and suggests that it is the opposite of fast, easy and worthless.

Modern society emphasizes the fast and the easy and much of the time the result is worthless. Everyone is looking for short cuts (what are now called hacks) to make everything as fast and easy as possible.

Sometimes making hard work or difficult work easier is a good thing.

Sometimes the continuous search for the quick and easy option is not so good.

Often the real pleasure in life and the real lesson in life is in the journey, not the arrival. Be wary of shortcuts – they may remove the quality that makes life truly worth living.

Seth Godin’s post is here.

The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

Synopsis of Content:

Using social media effectively to promote a business, a new book, or anything else you want to promote is an art and a collection of skills. In this book Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick provide some great and insightful tips on how to do just that.

They teach you how to optimize your social media profiles, tips on how to keep adding good content, the importance of frequent posting, the power of curation and more. There is a chapter on how to respond to comments including how not to – that is how not to be negative no matter what commenters say to you.

There are additional chapters on integrating your social media with you blog, how to socialize events and specifics on how to get the most out of Google +, Twitter and Facebook.

The book includes good examples. Both authors are masters at using social media with large followings. They teach the techniques on how to do this. No matter how you put it social media is a lot of work and their tips do not change that but they can save you time.

What I found useful about this book:

In addition to the great tips and examples the book gives detailed explanations on how to do things. You have to have some familiarity with social media to gain the most from this, it is not ideal for beginners, but anyone can benefit.

The book is available in print and electronically. It is full of hyperlinks that take you to a great deal of additional content. To get the most from the book get the electronic version.

Readability/Writing Quality:

The book is very readable. Kawasaki writes in a very informal style that is very easy to follow. It is also well organized.

Notes on Author:

Guy Kawasaki works for a company called Canva, an on line design service. He is a fellow at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked for Apple and Google.

Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist and director of digital media at Kreussler Inc. She has led successful social media campaigns for large corporations including Google and Virgin.

Other Books by This Author:

Kawasaki has written 13 books on various subjects.

Related Website:

http://guykawasaki.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Effective use of social media requires a well-designed strategy. It is not a hit or miss game. You have to develop your strategy and follow through with it.
  2. Social media is changing every day. To be most effective with it you have to experiment and keep abreast of the changes.
  3. To be effective in social media you must share good content and be yourself.

Publication Information:

Title and Author:  The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
Copyright holder: ©2014 by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Portfolio / Penguin.

Book of the Month: August 2015

Buy the book here:

 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

How To Stay Out of Debt Forever

Warren Buffett on Credit Card Debt

Here is a talk by Warren Buffett on how to avoid debt. Buffett is one of the richest men in the world and is CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett recommends that you not run up credit card debt because of the high interest rate. If you cannot afford it do not buy it. He gives this advice in the first five minutes of his talk, you need not listen to the whole hour. This single simple bit of advice is invaluable. Every competent financial advisor I’ve met or whose book I’ve read gives this advice.

If you have a sound education plan borrowing for education makes sense. If you want to own your own home in most cases you will need to borrow to buy it. Until you can build up financial reserves you may need to borrow money for your first couple vehicles. Barring some emergency, it is best not to borrow any money after that. By all means avoid credit cards debt unless you can pay it off in a month or two.

The person with savings has a buffer against the unexpected and can build some personal wealth. The person in credit card debt is in a perpetual financial hole they cannot climb out of.

The key to avoiding credit card debt is not to buy what you cannot pay cash for. If you do not have money for it right now you cannot afford it. Follow that rule and it will avoid years of heartache, worry and indebtedness.

Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com