John Manning

One Lesson One Step At A Time

"Discipline is the consistent application of certain mindsets and actions that are vital for your success" - John Manning

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about goals and just plain getting things done, is that you need to break them down to work on them in pieces. It holds you accountable and makes life a whole lot less complicated and overwhelming. In tackling any project I take it one step at a time and pace myself so that I can succeed and, in the case of learning, absorb information.  

About this time of year I look around my gardens that all are at their peak and in bloom. The butterflies are dancing, the bees are swarming for nectar, and the bugs are munching on everything. There are days where I ask myself “How did I ever do this?” When you look at it as a whole it is overwhelming that not only do I keep adding plants to my garden, but I am increasing the upkeep. I know that visitors always ask how I do it all and many of my friends think that I am crazy.

The key to maintaining a garden lies in baby steps. Don’t try to start and finish a garden project in one weekend. It always takes longer and you will either abandon it or do a half ass job. I can always tell people who have fallen into this trap as I drive around and look at neighborhood yards. You know who you are…. The little 3 foot pond plunked into the middle of the yard growing algae. The collapsing fire pit with plants plunked in here and there…..  

It has taken me almost 2 months to trim and chip my garden beds. I’m still not done putting in 14 yards of woodchips. Life has been busy and things get in the way. I commit to stay on task by doing a few wheelbarrows a day, weeding for 10 minutes a day, watering every few days. The list goes on and on however, I take it in stride and work towards my end goal step by step. This not only keeps me on task but maintains my sanity while minimizing my frustration at with my own impatience.
Bottom line? Don’t be a weekend gardener. You will quit and never start up again. Take one task at a time. You will accomplish your end goal, you won’t feel overwhelmed or frustration, and you won’t hate working in our yard. You may even learn to love it!                                                                                                                        

Like gardening, I am continually trying to learn and grow. I strive to refine my leadership style and discover how I can be a more effective transparent and effective leader in everything that I do. I was fortunate to be given one of the best tools around to help guide my leadership in baby steps. I recently read the book “The Disciplined Leader: 52 Concise, Powerful Lessons Keeping the Focus on What Really Matters” by John Manning. This little gem is the kind of book that I keep on my nightstand to wake up to and digest quick leadership lessons before starting my day. 

Manning is very passionate about the fact that the best leaders are disciplined. They focus on what is important –PEOPLE – in order to get results. To this end, he offers 52 great concise yet powerful lessons to read at leisure and digest. They focus on 3 key areas: 

Ø  Leading yourself

Ø  Leading your team

Ø  Leading your organization 

Each lesson is followed up with tactics, practical advice and 2 action or reflective ideas which is why I loved the format and lessons. I can read just one at a time or skip around and still find relevancy and application to my day. The lessons are very hands on and user friendly. It’s like having a leadership bible at your fingertips.  I enjoyed the easy reading that really helped me to set a leadership plan for life. The meaningful aspect about Manning’s lessons is that they are applicable to both your professional and person life.  

Manning focuses on the concept that we are all too familiar with, the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. 20% of your efforts produce 80% of your results. The same applies to your customer profitability and the productivity of your key employees. By focusing your efforts on what really matters – your people – you will bring out the best in everyone and this is really where the gold is. Learning and using the lessons in this gem of a book will really help you to apply the 80/20 rule and guide you to plan what to do, when, and how. Both you and your team will win.

The best way to use this book is to read the lessons and then sit back to reflect. Pick the top 3 lessons that resonate with you in terms of developing your leadership, your team’s leadership, and bring out the best in your organization. In short, you should have chosen 9 lessons, 3 from each area. Prioritize the top 5 lessons out of all of the lessons. Really focus on them and use them as action steps for your leadership development.  Manning offers a helpful template to use with your key action steps for each that you have chosen to grow as a guide. Ta Da! Your leadership lessons are handed to you on a silver platter to begin your growth and development. 

I love the engaging leadership action steps at the end of each lesson. There are very relevant and engaging examples to guide you. You will feel more equipped to set goals and not overwhelmed. Pick up this great book today and begin learning in chunks but applying to your life in mass!  A great read!