I’m a Bill Jensen fan. How could I not like someone who says his mission in life is "to make it easier for people to get stuff done"? I think his book Simplicity can be used by anyone who is or wants to be a coach. His book is filled with wise and practical knowledge about how to be persuasive, use time, clarify our thinking, and think through and implement important plans.
Here are a couple quotations from Simplicity:
“As I reflect back on all the breakthroughs I’ve seen, one thing was always present-unbelievable clarity. Not reduced to ducks and bunnies explanations…but the exciting, passionate clarity of ideas” (p.15).
“Our biggest limit is no longer the reach of our imagination. It’s now our inability to order, make sense of, and connect everything that demands our attention. We are failing to make the complex clear” (p.21).
Mr. Jensen has written two other books I like. Work 2.0 redefines the contract between employees and employers from the perspective of the employer, and as interesting as that book is, I am more impressed by his most recent book, What Is Your Life’s Work?
The book is a collection of letters that people have written to their children, parents, friends and enemies in which they define what really matters in their life. When I started the book, I was a little disappointed, too many “ducks and bunnies explanations…” over simplifications that might sound great in a convocation address, but not as templates for living your life.
As I read more of the book, though, I was hooked. The book has many life lessons that can be starting points for deep reflection about the important questions in life. I believe that to be effective as leaders, coaches have to begin by reflecting deeply about who they are and what they stand for. Here are some fragments from the book:
“As you move into the workplace, and possibly lead other people, I would suggest that you answer five urgent questions:
• How should I think and act when faced with defining moments?
• How do I resolve them in ways I can live with?
• Do I think I can lead/manage innocently?
• Who am I?
• What is my moral center?”
--Dennis Bonilla writing to his one-year-old daughter, Sophia Lillian
“My fear for you is not that you won’t succeed… my fear is that you will do nothing that gives you personal meaning; You will succeed at someone else’s life” Nancy Adler, speaking to an advertising executive
“Whenever we feel defensive, hurt, personally attacked, confused, or afraid, we have a choice—we can get very curious. Rather than saying, ‘I never would have said that,” we can say, “I wonder what these people heard me say? I wonder what their perception is?”
“In school, first you get the lesson, then the test. In life, it’s first the test, then the lesson.”
—Linda Stone, writing to “the many who filled her life with love and laughter”
“Beware of those who seek to rise or acquire at someone else’s expense. And never take credit for someone else’s work; eventually you will be defined by your lack of integrity. In the end it WILL catch up with you, and cost you your dreams and relationships. NEVER DO IT!”—Neal Sofian, writing to his children
“the secret behind everything is your work ethic—your attitudes, beliefs, and determination to stay focused on what is important”—Mark Servodidio, writing to his children
“As we try to improve, we are drawn to the large, dramatic, and splashy programs for change, but we are impacted more by the small and simple changes in our daily routines. We don’t change the world through epiphanies, but by doing lots of little things that add up to sustained transformation. Simple things are not always easy to change, but by improving one thing at a time, we make progress toward great things”—Dave Ulrich, writing to his great-great-grandfather.
“We live in both a wonderful and a horrible world. We each choose, every day, which part of the world we are from. To do wrong for a good cause is still wrong”—Rob Newson, writing to his children
“The greatest accomplishment in life is not to defeat or suppress your opponents but to prevail in an environment or under a system that may be holding you back or even oppressive to you”—Scarlett Hu, writing her 12-year-old daughter
You can read more about this book at ourlifeswork.com