Over the past week I have been listening to an audiobook as I have been out and about in my car. I particularly love audiobooks that are read by the authors who wrote them, and this was just such a book. Brendon Burchard is a motivational speaker and NY Times best-selling author. In his newest book, The Charge: Activtating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive, Burchard outlines what he believes to be the ten basic human drives that inspires and gives individuals the charge to illuminate their lives. The five basic drives are Control, Competence, Congruence, Caring and Connection. His five Forward Human Drives are Change, Challenge, Creativity, Contribution and Consciousness. The term ‘Personal Knowledge Management’ is nowhere in sight, and the topics tended to relate more to business people than academics. So why am I writing about the book here?
For me, PKM encompasses much more than tools and plans and changes to our lives that let us manage our lives more efficiently. For me, an important aspect of the PKM lifestyle is focusing on the way we think and feel about ourselves, those around us and life in general. All the productivity tricks in the world will be useless if we don’t have the mindset and focus to apply them.
I actually began the book rather skeptically, not really expecting to gain much from it that I didn’t already know. The author is so energetic and enthusiastic that it felt like he was right there in the passenger seat of the car prodding me to pay attention and stay engaged. I found, that even when I was mentally saying “yeah, I know that”, hearing a message or concept repeated in such a motivational way was actually starting a spark in me, and I found myself musing over several ideas that he put in my head during his “exercises”.
One such idea was to plan out a year’s worth of goals, assigning one to each month. While the idea of coming up with 12 challenging goals to add to my already overextended life made my mind go tilt, the idea of a monthly focus had appeal. One of the challenges I sometimes have in making changes is just in getting started.. I know things I want to do, but get distracted by responsibilities at hand and end up pulling a classic Scarlet O’Hara (I’ll think about that Tomorrow!) “What if,” I mused, “I assigned myself very small changes to incorporate in my life and tackle one more each month?” What if all I had to do was remember to drink twice as much water every day, for example. The one month deadline makes the change more doable and somehow easier to start, simply because of the time constraints involved (afterall, I can do ANYthing for just one month, right?). Then next month, I would very likely find myself better capable of keeping up the new habit of drinking more water and can continue that while focusing on another small change for the new month ahead.
Was this brain science? No. Had I never heard of chunking deliverables (or changes) into smaller, more achievable chunks? Of course I had heard of the concept. That is one of the most basic project management rules out there. What I did discover anew, however, was the benefit to listening to (or reading) motivational or enlightening books and speakers even when I felt like I already knew about that topic. It made me think of all the great books I had in my bookshelves… positive thinking books that were full of highlighted passages marked by ME. I marked those passages because they made an impact on me when I read them. I bet they would make an impact again today if I read them again. And they might just make me think about a problem or challenge I am facing today a little differently. Sometimes, seeing things from a different perspective can make all the difference in getting a “stuck” project going again.
What’s in your bookshelves that motivated or made a difference in your life? Maybe it would be worth dusting it off and taking a second look.