Saturday, October 26, 2013

Do Just One Thing Better Today

"Tomorrow hopes we've learned something from yesterday."
~John Wayne
Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56, Arizona
As I've said before, I like to work my way into the day nice and slow.  There was a rule in my store even twenty-five years ago, that you wait until I've got my coat off and I've had my coffee before you ask me anything--and I won't be responsible for what happens if you fail to follow that simple rule.  A friend of ours, Susan, likes to tell the story about how we all went on a trip together once, and the four of us stayed in a cabin--and one morning, there was no coffee.  Her version of the story is that I threw a shoe at her head and barely missed.  My version of the story is that if I meant to hit her in the head with a shoe, I would have hit her in the head with the shoe.  Fortunately, there was a convenience store nearby--her husband Jim took me there, and 24-ounces later all was well with the world.  That's the way I used to be in the mornings.
I've mellowed over time, I'm not nearly as cranky in the mornings as I once was, but let's just say I've never been a morning person.  These days I'm less angry and more reflective in the mornings.  I'm a list maker.  I start my day off sipping on my coffee, and working my lists.  I look over my lists from the day before and mark a few things off, and add a few things I need to do.  I learned a long time ago that I get a lot more done during the day when I go into it with a plan and the days I leap into without a plan are the days I don't accomplish very much.  I have all kinds of lists.  I have a to-do list for work, and I have a to-do list for personal stuff (like getting the oil changed).  And I have a big white board on the wall of my office with a list of ongoing projects I'm working on which I break down into smaller tasks.  I update them all every morning and outline my plan of attack.
But one of the most important things I do during that morning "quiet time" is that I look back at the previous day to see if there's any lessons to be learned.  We all make mistakes, it's just that some of us don't like to admit them and others try and learn from them.  I like to learn from them.  And there's always some example from the day before of something I did . . . well, less than gracefully.  So one thing that goes on my list every day is one thing to focus on.  Today, I'm working on listening.  Apparently I wasn't doing a very good job of that yesterday during a meeting, and I missed an important point.  Had I been paying more attention, I could have saved a member of our office a lot of work.  But I wasn't. 
It's not always easy for us to admit we aren't perfect--that we are all flawed.  But if you take a few minutes and really look at yourself and how you go through life, it can be an eye-opener.  You may find something there glaring at you that you should have seen a long time ago.  But the benefit of doing this exercise, is that once we see something in ourselves that needs improvement, we have the power to change it for the better.  And the cumulative effects of spending just a little time each day working on improving just one part of our personality that need some attention can be transformational.
It's so simple, and yet it has worked miracles on me--you know, it's been more than fifteen years since I last threw a shoe at anyone!
Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014.

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