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Productive Work Habits

During the reign of the Roman Empire, a Roman soldier could order the subject of a conquered nation to carry a package for one mile. It didn’t matter that you were actually headed in the opposite direction, or that your feet hurt, or that you still had a lot of your own work to do.

Sounds like torture, right?

A modern-day version of this has probably happened to each of us at some point in our work life. You work in sales, or in accounting, or in communications. Your boss comes along one Monday afternoon, just as you’re beginning to feel like you’ve already been at work for 20 hours. He asks you to run an errand.

“Would you make 100 copies of this document and drop them off at our client’s office? Oh, and on your way, would you deposit this cheque at the bank, please.”

What! You can’t believe what you’re hearing.

“Does this guy realize that I have a masters’ degree? Does he think I’m the messenger? Is he not seeing me right?”

Of course these thoughts are going on silently in your mind, behind a carefully painted on smile.

“Of course,” you say wryly, taking the documents. You don’t trust yourself to say more than that, and besides, you’re busy swallowing the sentiments you would much rather express.

You may not be feeling terribly happy about this scenario, but picture this – your boss is only making you to go an additional mile. If you subscribe to the ‘extra mile’ philosophy (it might even be something you put down in your CV during your job hunting days), you would say something like this:

“Sir, the coffee shop is right next to the bank. Shall I pick you a Latte on my way back?”

Never mind that he hardly remembers to make any refunds.

The first mile you were forced to go was difficult enough. Why would you take on the extra one?

The answer lies in one of the work habits of highly successful people.

Every day, people around the world are forced to go just the extra one mile. They reluctantly do it because they really don’t see any alternative. The bills are piling up and they need the pay cheque. That’s the bottom line. You’ll meet many on the road doing this single forced mile.

Most people quit at the end of that first mile and will not go one step further. But the voluntary second mile is not so populated. The second mile is really about the habitual attitude of willingness to give more and better service; to go beyond the expected; to have personal initiative. The second mile is the one that sets you free.

The second mile is an ingredient in every success story, it is an important principle of success. It is the story of the people who consistently do more than the job description demands, more than they agreed to in a relationship, more than they signed up for at the gym.

Determine to go that extra mile this week – with hope and a smile!

©2018 David Waweru is the Chief Learning Officer at Will to Win Global. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence

What would be different if we devoted as much time developing our emotional intelligence as we do our IQ?

A common but mistaken belief is that emotions belong at home, not at the workplace; that they are to be put down at the front door when you leave your house, and only be picked up again when you return. Mind and body are sufficient to accomplish our jobs, we think. And so displays of emotion at work are generally frowned upon.

The thing is, a man and his emotions, a woman and her emotions, are not so easily separated. Try as we may to suppress them, emotions have an uncanny way of rising to the surface at unexpected moments.

There’s nothing wrong with experiencing emotions, even those we consider negative, such as anger or frustration. There should be greater concern, perhaps, for people who find it difficult to express emotions.

Emotions are what make us human. And they follow and influence us wherever we go. Even to the workplace. Better, then, to acknowledge them and become more aware of them; and what better way to achieve self-control – an essential quality for success in all areas of life.

The choices we make, especially while we’re experiencing emotions, are what matters most.

Acting with emotional intelligence – the ability to perceive, comprehend, and regulate our emotions effectively – is a skill we can all learn and develop with some practice. For example, we can control our reaction, for instance when we feel angry, by just pausing.

Take 6 seconds before you act

In the words of Lawrence Peter, author of The Peter Principle, “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”

The solution? Six seconds.

Research shows that it takes about six seconds for the chemicals caused by an emotional reaction to be reabsorbed into our bodies. A six second pause is probably the best way to spend the moments after someone gets your blood boiling. You can apply this tip anywhere – at home, at work, and on the road as well.

Pausing is probably even more important before you hit the send button on an angry email – and regret it forever. Email mostly cannot be recalled. Even in cases where you have few seconds to recall it, the regret won’t come flooding till it’s too late. The embarrassment that you go through after calming down is unavoidable.

What can you do in six seconds?

Deep breathing is helpful. Take a deep breath, hold it, and breathe out. This takes just about the six seconds that you need to regulate your emotions and respond more appropriately.

If a deep breath doesn’t seem appropriate in the situation (maybe you don’t want to appear obviously exasperated) you can develop other ways to pause for six seconds – a poem or tongue twister perhaps; or a favorite song, hopefully one that has happy memories, or cheers you up. Hum it in your mind, not under your breath, lest you appear to have gone off the deep end, especially if your face is beginning to show signs of the anger you’re feeling deep down.

Once your emotions are settled, you can evaluate the situation more rationally. Is it worth losing your dignity for? Hurting a relationship? Ending a career?

With more practice, you’ll soon realize that it’s possible to control your responses, re-frame your thinking, handle accidental outbursts, and channel your emotions productively.

Prioritizing: New Mom’s Invaluable Lesson for Entrepreneurs


First Things First

A new mom can teach entrepreneurs a thing or two about prioritizing.

How so?

She understands a basic fact – that it is counterproductive to try and do everything all at once. She knows what’s truly important.

New Mom chooses what to let go now, what to postpone, and what must get done at each moment. Her single most important goal? To successfully raise a healthy, happy child, stage by stage.

Systems Thinking

She recognizes that in his first stage, her infant has very basic needs; but they are needs that must be attended to with diligence. Feed. Change. Sleep. Repeat.

New Mom would like to get a full night’s sleep; but she knows it’s not going to happen. She might want to dine out or go for a movie; but she knows those plans must take a back seat.

Not permanently, but for now.


New Mom does not expect her two-week-old baby to smile broadly at her and announce ‘thank you’ when she feeds him. She certainly does not expect him to crawl.

Before the baby was born, she kept an impeccably clean and tidy house. Everything was in its place. Dishes were not allowed to sit in the sink unwashed. Now she often leaves the laundry unfolded in the living room, or it just stays on the clothesline for the night. Dishes too may sit overnight, if need be. Meals are much simpler than the full course spread she used to serve.


It’s not that New Mom has become a slob. She just has her priorities straight; focused on the needs of her infant.

Feed. Change. Sleep. Repeat.

She knows that soon enough, her baby will begin to smile, to eat solid food, to crawl and to walk. He will eventually go to school. Stage by stage she will change her priorities to accomplish her goal of raising a healthy, happy son.

What can a fledgling entrepreneur learn from New Mom?


Something about managing expectations, for starters. Do you expect your startup business to roar to success right away? Do you compare your infant business to someone else’s toddler business and wonder why yours is not ‘smiling’ or ‘walking’? Are you realistic enough to recognize the stage you’re at in the business lifecycle?

New Mom has given up her eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and her nights out. What sacrifices are you making to give your fledgling business the extra attention it needs to survive and eventually thrive? Do your mornings start earlier or your working hours extend beyond what used to be the norm?

Do you know what’s important to do at this stage; what is a priority, and what you can let go for now? What tasks take priority day by day in these early stages of your business life? What are your ‘Feed. Change. Sleep. Repeat’ tasks; the top priorities that you need to focus on to enhance your chance of success?

Time is money. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you will need to utilize it to the fullest. And to maximize time, you must prioritize. Maybe it’s time you took a fresh look at your priorities.


Copyright ©2018 David Waweru. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

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