Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Becoming a People Person

Recently, a friend told me about a conversation she had with a principal who had just read Get Organized! The principal had this to say:

When I accepted the job as principal, I envisioned myself as being a "people person." But, it just hasn't worked out that way. The paperwork and other demands of the job have kept me so busy there has been no time for people. This book is going to allow me to be the "people person" I had hoped to be.

At first, I thought the comment was strange. Get Organized! says very little about people skills. It's a book about organizing paper, digital information, and time. It is about the stress relief that happens when all of your responsibilities are housed in a comprehensive system. But a book about becoming a people person...?

Actually, the comment is right on target. For the last 10 years, I have opened most every workshop with this poem:

Good-bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven't time.
I'll come back, I can't wait, I haven't time.
I must end this letter--I haven't time.
I'd love to help you, but I haven't time.
I can't accept, having no time.
I can't think, I can't read, I'm swamped, I haven't time.
I'd like to pray, but I haven't time.
--Michel Quoist

The poem illustrates the time pressure we all face. Furthermore, the poem makes clear that those things which are pushed aside for lack of time are often the real treasures of life. Get Organized! was written to help the school leader flourish in a profession and in a world where the time demands so greatly exceed the available time. The strategies in the book conservatively add an hour to every day, and probably much more than that.

What do we do with the time we save? The book is silent there. That answer must come from the reader. During this summer's workshops, I began having participants respond anonymously in writing to this question:

If I had one more hour every day, I would...

At the end of the workshop, I read those responses aloud. As a people, we really do have ideas for what we would do if we had more time, and those responses are as varied as the personalities and interests of the people in the room.

For some, another hour a day would mean time to exercise, time to spend with children, time to resurrect that old hobby, time to learn a hobby, or for this one reader...time to spend with the people in the building.

Whatever it is you wish to do, whatever noble service you will perform for your school, your community, your church, and whatever good you will bring to your family or yourself...all of it will be accomplished through the dimension we call time.

If I had one more hour every day, I would...

How will you answer that question?


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