How to Stop People From Grabbing Your Valuable Time Away – Part 1 – Email


How to Stop People From Grabbing Your Valuable Time Away – Part 1

Email and meetings have become two of the biggest productivity killers in Jamaican corporate life. In this first article in a two-part series, we will focus on the cost of bad email.

You are in your office after 6 PM with the door closed. Unfortunately, you are struggling to catch up while, at that moment, the Time Grabbers who wasted your attention all day are at home, relaxing. Even if happen to be the rare person who can’t stand to leave with important work unfinished, you probably still think it’s not fair. How did you reach this point?

Fact: earlier that day, Time Grabbers cc’d and bcc’d you on unproductive email threads. Sometimes, you were only peripherally involved. But most of the time you were included in order to help achieve some unspoken political purpose.

What the offenders don’t know (or don’t care to know) is the amount of time it takes others to process their messages. It only takes a few of these emails bouncing from one department to another to decimate an hour of your best time. It’s the reason you are still there after hours and why you may be one of the 74% of workers who report that they are more productive outside the office.

How can this problem be overcome?

The challenge is that Time Grabbers are unaware of the social chaos they are causing, having never received factual, quality, feedback. While it’s true “they know not what they do,” they shouldn’t be forgiven too readily. Instead, here is an idea for a software app that would help everyone connect the cause (ineffective email) with its effect (wasted time/costs).

In companies that share the same email system, an “Email Budget Allocator” is a programme that could be used to make a difference. As a plug-in designed for use inside your current system, (such as Outlook) it would automatically display the cost of an email even as you are drafting it. How would this be calculated?

It’s easy. The app would compute the cost by taking into account the amount of words, plus the number and level of the recipients. Furthermore, this sum could be modified by a programme like Hemingway, which instantly reports the complexity of an article. For example, this column registers at a reading level of “Grade 9.”

But that would be just the beginning. To help change actual behaviour, you and your colleagues would receive an internal email budget depending on your respective roles. Each message you send would debit your budget, much in the same way that a prepaid call debits a mobile phone’s credit. At the end of the quarter, your manager would review your expenditure and together you’d make the necessary adjustments.

The final feature I can imagine would be a private feedback mechanism for individual messages. Once an email is sent, the system would take note of the number of times it is deleted without being read. Also, a recipient would be able to anonymously indicate when an email is a waste of time by forwarding it to a special address. There, the programme would aggregate all wasted email, compute the total cost, and further debit the sender’s account.

This app might work because it brings a hidden, pernicious cost out in the open. By contrast, we are acutely aware of our expenditure on cell-phone calls because each one reduces our hard-earned credit. While this system does not involve any loss of dollars and cents, it would raise the profile of wasted attention. As it is, the average professional spends 1-2 hours per day on email; an ever-increasing number. Even then, most companies don’t offer any training on email productivity, resulting in not only lost time but frayed nerves.

But here’s the good news. You don’t need to wait for this app to be invented to use these ideas in your organization.

For the most part, your colleagues have no idea of the cost related to clicking the <SEND> button. You can remedy this by actually determining a dollar value and sharing it widely. Compute the time it takes people to process email of different kinds, depending on their level in the hierarchy. Use estimates to teach them how much the average email costs the organization. For the first time, Time Grabbers could understand the impact of their behaviour on other people. Their behavioural changes, according to my calculations, would more than pay for the price of the training.

Most organizations are far too willing to let their employees work long hours for reasons they can control. Cutting the expense of wasted email could free them from having to do unnecessary work that keeps them from their families.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. To receive a free summary of links to his past articles, send email to


How to Stop People from Grabbing Away Your Valuable Time Part 1

How Leaders Save Followers From Being Professional Victims


Ddec 6 2016How Leaders Save Followers From Being Professional Victims

Many executives are relatively strong at taking responsibility, especially in areas where others don’t. They stand up to be counted, assuming risks that others won’t.  However, they are often baffled when their followers show an excessive and inexplicable fear of victimization. What should leaders do to eradicate this bad habit that makes good people slip into dependency and turns potential future leaders into weaklings?

Case: A corporate leader who I work with scratches his head in dismay. His followers, who he hopes to grow into a new cadre of leaders have devolved into victims-in-waiting. That is, they have learned an infantile, super-sensitivity to perceived slights and imagined disrespect. He has discovered that even his best attempts to make a difference are taken as personal attacks. They have become professional victims.

According to the Urban Dictionary “professional victims” claim victimization when things don’t go their way. They continually believe someone is taking advantage of them. In his case, workers have taken to attend meetings in a silent boycott, refusing to contribute anything more than a minimum.

Truth be told, there is a certain kind of power to be gained from convincing your (perceived) oppressors that you are their victim. At best, it invites them to take responsibility in a new way as a result of seeing the truth for the first time. When this happens, transformation can result as it did in countries like the USA, India and South Africa.

However, at worst, being a victim can be just a form of hostage-taking. Then, it becomes a nasty blame-game where the self-described weak gain a scrap of leverage, usually by bullying those in power into feeling guilty.

Unfortunately, in some companies there are a frighteningly large number of staff members who act as professional victims. In your company, you may know exactly who I am talking about. If you do, then go a step further and ask yourself: “Is the diseased thinking spreading or shrinking?”

Use your answer to gauge how effectively your people are being led. Ineffective leaders merely join the pity party, engaging in their own version of professional victimhood. They may, for example, compare their current job against prior roles they held in better companies, with better colleagues who served better customers. This just makes the situation worse.

Effective leaders respond quite differently by taking the following three steps.

1. Demonstrate By Example
Real leaders take responsibility at extraordinary levels, far beyond the boundaries of space and time. For example, they may even take ownership for what people do to each other. Or, they may assume responsibility for what has happened in the past, under prior leadership, as if they were in charge when it happened.

While others may think this is crazy behavior, it is actually self-empowerment at its finest.

Leaders who are powerfully self-aware are not blind to what they are doing and they don’t do it in secret. They actively create a context in which they locate themselves as the cause of important results, positive or negative. As they do so, one public step at a time, it’s noticeable that something is different. This magic ingredient may be hard for others to articulate, but leaders seize vacuums of responsibility to inspire others to act.

2. Educate Followers
A few top leaders don’t just act differently, they teach this exceptional behaviour to others at every opportunity. Sometimes, they have developed their own language for what they do, using homegrown phrases such as “taking one for the team.” Developing responsibility in others is a critical part of their job and the key to a cultural transformation.

3. Share the struggle
A tiny handful go even further than teaching others. They take the risk of sharing their personal struggle with new areas of responsibility. By doing so, they show that it’s OK to be imperfect, giving staff real-time insight behind the scenes of a leader’s transformation.

Unfortunately, most top executives are clueless about these three steps. With low awareness, they are stunned when people avoid interacting with them for fear of being victimized. They witness employees acting as responsible adults in other areas of their lives (family, church and community) and can’t understand why the workplace is so different. Professional victims are perfectly capable of this dualism.

They can also be quite effective at converting others to their cause: misery loves company. This means that leaders cannot just sit back and wait for people’s mindsets to change – they won’t.

The solution is to be aware and active. If you are a leader, work on the three skills listed above and make them part of your everyday way of being. Leaders are only called forth when the stakes are high and success will be impossible if you avoid this particular duty. It is hard, but necessary.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. To receive a free summary of links to his past articles, send email to

Three New Habits Can Save the Jamaican Economy


Japan’s economic recovery from World War II was nothing short of miraculous. Is there something that Jamaica could learn from their focus on removing waste from a narrow area of high importance? If we also could find a single point of improvement that could be applied in a wide number of areas could we see the same results?

Three New Habits That Can Save Jamaica’s Economy

Most Jamaicans are wondering “Where will the spark come from that will ignite our economy?” Instead of hoping for foreigners to bail us out, maybe we should be looking at what we are already wasting: individual time.

It may not be the path advocated by the IMF, but it’s one that post World War II Japan would readily recognize. In their recovery, they made unprecedented monumental improvements in their manufacturing operations. They leaped from being a producer of laughable products to being world leaders. Unfortunately, the cost of energy prevents us from taking that particular path, but there is something we can borrow from their approach.

We need to do so urgently. Jamaica’s productivity has been sailing in reverse ever since independence, making us one of the least productive countries in the hemisphere.

Japan had bigger problems. Due to high costs, their customers could not afford their own country’s products. In response, their companies launched an all-out effort to cut waste in order to make products more affordable.

At Toyota, the quality revolution was led by Taiichi Ohno. He declared that there are seven forms of waste which permeate factories: overproduction, motion, inventory, transportation, waiting, defects and over-processing. (Later, others added one more that may apply to us: under-utilized people.)

We also have an opportunity to cut waste, but not in factories. Instead, it resides in the way we waste time as individuals, at every level. Daily experience tells us that something is wrong – our people are under-utilized. But what would it be like to become the country with the most productive employees in the world?

We’d have to think quite differently. The latest research reveals that time itself cannot be managed, and instead we must focus on what is called a “time demand.” It’s defined as an internal, individual commitment to complete an action in the future. An inescapable element of adult life, we all create, manage and complete time demands every single day.

However, my empirical data shows our performance in this area is well below global averages. Here are three wasteful habits that challenge us in the workplace.

1. Tracking Time Demands Using Memory
Early in our teens we learn that once a time demand is created, it forms an essential link between our goals and actions. Keeping each one alive in our memory is a habit we try to teach ourselves and when the number of items is small, it appears to work. However, as we get older the stakes rise. Life becomes more complex and our teenager-taught, memory-based system fails.

Case: A colleague has a habit of making strong, confident promises in meetings, but he never records them.  You notice that once the meeting is over, he disappears along with his promises. Over time, you end up becoming his personal reminder system in order to get what you want.

Recommended: Wean yourself and others off the use of memory for this purpose. See it as a reckless practice. Instead, record all time demands in writing or on a digital device.

2. Recording Time Demands Without Processing Them
Once someone unlearns the habit of using memory and starts capturing time demands safely, a new problem arises. He/she needs to set time aside to process them all, preferably on a daily basis.

Case: If you are someone who arrives at meetings with four notepads filled with an unprocessed backlog of time demands, you are still using memory to decide which ones to execute and when.

Recommended: Go through the backlog of time demands in your notepads, Inboxes and other places of capture and delete obsolete ones. Be aggressive. Move the ones to be saved for later to a long-term home in either your To-Do List or calendar. Once the backlog is gone, develop a regular habit of emptying time demands from these places of capture.

3. Sticking with Paper
Even though you have abundant, inexpensive access to digital resources, you have not upgraded from the use of a paper calendar or To-Do list. This approach is risky.

Case: You create a commitment on behalf of a customer by adding a new task to your paper To-Do list. Later that evening, at bath time, it becomes the raw material for your child’s boat. Surprise! You scramble the next morning to repeat the conversation with your customer, dealing a blow to your reputation.

Recommended: Become as comfortable with digital devices and redundant storage as you are with paper. With the right tools and proper backups to the cloud, you will never, ever lose anything.

Today, these wasteful behaviours are common but they are not insurmountable. If the island archipelago of Japan can reverse its fortunes with focused effort on cutting waste, then maybe we can also. The time is right for each of us to undertake a personal productivity revolution.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. To receive a free summary of links to all his past articles, send email to







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Why Executives Now Need to Challenge Their Direct Reports


Many Caribbean executives simply don’t ask enough of their direct reports. Instead, they try to protect them from harsh realities, often before it’s too late to call for an “all hands on deck” approach.

Here’s what they should do instead: Why Executives Need to Challenge Their Direct Reports.

The full text is provided below.

Why Executives Now Need to Challenge Their Direct Reports

While top executives are known for their unearthly ability to push themselves, it often isn’t enough. They also need to demand high performance from their direct reports to prevent their organizations from drifting into sorry mediocrity. Why, at this time, has their ability to direct their subordinates become so important?

In some ways, this recession has been good for Jamaicans. It is pushing us to work longer, harder and smarter in our need to do more with less. When there’s less revenue available, our companies (like our individuals) are learning to operate in a leaner fashion in order to do things they have never done before.

This may sound good in theory but how does this translate into actual, on-the-ground behaviours? If you are an executive, how should you relate to your direct reports?

1. Never Allow Coasting

In the local corporate setup, even if you found yourself in a job with a steep learning curve, there was always a point at the top where you could stop pushing yourself. You could relax and enjoy the fruits of your initial hard work. However, in today’s recessionary environment, savvy executives realize that there is no such place. That is, no-one should expect that there will ever again (in our lifetime) be a time to coast along, with spare time to smell the roses.

Today, it’s all curve. At the “top,” you should expect another curve. And then another.

As an executive, it’s your job to create challenges (i.e. new curves) for your people – much in the same way that a coach motivates a team. Good sales executives are expert at this task, but now every other manager must do the same with their direct reports.

They may hate you for it, but it’s not personal. The recession is hitting every business in Jamaica hard, especially those who earn no foreign exchange and have no overseas customers. All you are doing by asking for more is aligning your subordinates with reality. It’s a difficult task to accomplish, but you cannot wait. Your company must stretch itself to achieve the seemingly impossible long before things start to break.

2. Removing Protection

Entrepreneurs face the relentless pressure of bi-weekly payroll, monthly tax obligations, and daily cash-flow crunches. By contrast, your company’s employees are traditionally protected from these stresses if they work for medium to large enterprises. It’s been clear.  In exchange for a long-term, regular salary, they have gotten by with few responsibilities, standard hours of work and only vague requests to learn new skills.

In times past, this was the accepted status quo. In response to a global recession, your direct reports need to strip this protection away so that your company can compete.

Case in point: A Florida-based contractor explained to me that “He stopped hiring fellow Jamaicans long ago.” According to him, his new Mexican employees work all day taking only a single, ten-minute break for lunch. He couldn’t find enough Jamaicans with that work ethic to employ them.

In like manner, the recession has brought global pressures on local companies that none can avoid. Top managers must expose employees to these outside factors which demand greater individual production. The fact that these improvements must take place without the benefit of additional tools, training or remuneration is not unfair – it’s just life.

3. On-boarding People Who Demand More of Themselves

Usain Bolt has set a good example in publicly asking more of himself. In his commitment to break the 200-meter world record, he admits that he’s now older and more injury-prone.

Unfortunately, most employees aren’t like Usain – they don’t set such difficult goals for themselves. It’s up to your direct reports to recruit the rare people who have this mindset. One shortcut is to borrow the HR best-practice used to weed out the ones who aren’t up to the challenge.

It’s easy – just walk them through the worst possible day they could have if they accept the new role. This simulation provides them with a reality check that tells you, by their reaction, if they have what it takes.

If you believe that you are already hiring the right people, here’s one way to see if they are being challenged appropriately. Form an internal focus group of your most recent hires from full-time tertiary institutions. Ask them to be honest: “In order to fit in, have you scaled back your initial drive and effort since joining the company?” Allow them to share their shock at how little actual work gets done.

A company which creates the right culture must energize newcomers and employees alike to increase productivity. As a top executive, the only way to get that done is through your direct reports who must translate a continuous pressure for high performance into practical action. It’s the only way to assure your company’s survival.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. To receive a free summary of links to his past articles, send email to

Why Excluding “Certain People” from Your Executive or Cabinet is Bad for Business


In the past few weeks, one of Jamaica’s most prestigious literary talents won a major international prize. Below the headlines, however, is the story of a writer who has exiled himself from a country he can’t live in. Is your company also discouraging some of its best people and thereby promoting mediocrity?

Maybe those foreigners are onto something after all. Parts of the world we admire the most have become more tolerant of homosexuals in the workplace, taking active steps to encourage their contribution. I remember when I joined AT&T in New Jersey as a 22-year-old, only to be surprised at the number of openly gay individuals and LGBT support groups to be found. Like many Jamaicans who worked there, it came as a shock.

Marlon James, the 2015 winner of the Man Booker prize for fiction describes the reason for my shock in recent interviews and articles from the New York Times and UK Guardian. He points a cold finger at those who made his life a living hell as a student at Wolmers Boys. What strikes home is the fact that, for a year, I was his Headboy.

In high school, no-one would have been surprised to hear me pronounce on “the beating that B____ymen deserved.” Only four years later, I had changed. Just in time… as I entered the American workplace I learned that such hateful utterances were absolutely forbidden. Most companies had an explicit and unwavering commitment to diversity.

A few years ago, I re-discovered the wisdom of their stance via the books of Richard Florida. He uncovered a clear correlation between cities’ tolerance of homosexuality and their economic success. The data tells us that many creative types migrate to Silicon Valley, New York, London and other hotbeds of innovation. They leave behind the rejection of their hometowns for welcome places.

You may agree that it sounds like a reasonable theory.

In reality, however, it’s easy to see the negative side of my old, nasty intolerance. James openly identifies himself as a member of this group of outcasts. In his interviews, he describes his fear of being beaten… presumably by classmates like me. His forced exile shows what happens when the rampant ignorance I demonstrated is allowed to grow unchecked. It chases out would-be leaders of what could become creative new industries.

Or, to put it more plainly… hateful ignorance discourages the fellow who could come up with a product or service for your company that doubles its profits in a new segment. It suffocates the young lady who has the perfect idea of how to improve your operations, as she opts instead to migrate. It starves the consultant who, in spite of his bright ideas, you shun: he’s effeminate and has never been married.

This shunning takes place in subtle forms I still struggle with. Recently, on CaribHR.Radio, I interviewed an expert on LGBT workplace issues. She said that most people don’t want to know a fellow employee’s sexual orientation – echoing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But then she questioned me directly: “How would you respond if a man puts a picture of his boyfriend on his desk?”

I felt an old but familiar revulsion, sharply honed by my Wolmers years. Startled and embarrassed at my unwelcome feelings, I mumbled an incoherent reply. Her unspoken question was obvious: “Why should a particular employee be prohibited from doing what everyone else openly and freely enjoys?”

Alas, there seem to be no easy prescriptions, but here are two places to start if you intend to promote an environment of innovation within your company.

1. Assume the Facts

Contrary to the wishes of many, you probably already have gays, bisexuals or employees on the “Down-Low.” They could be in your executive, or a sensitive position and your acceptance of this possibility is a useful beginning.

2. Look for Your Self-Interest

It might be too hard to think about doing good things for homosexuals as a group. If so, start by looking out for your own self-interest. Your job as a manager is to do the best for your company. Indulging in revolting feelings is not in your job description. In fact, they hurt you in the long-term because you are pushing away innovative Marlon-James-types. Or CEO-of-Apple-types. These unfortunate outcomes undermine your success.

If it’s in your self-interest to create more tolerance, find small steps that fit within a Jamaican context. For example, explore what multinationals do in parts of the world that are intolerant, where hate is a matter of fact AND law. I became a different person in a few years courtesy of a transformative experience – so can your workplace.

This is no idle wish: facing down intolerance is, perhaps, one of the pathways to excellence here in Jamaica. If that’s true, your firm would benefit from encouraging and protecting diversity, rather than “loving up” mediocre sameness.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. To receive a free summary of links to his past articles, send email to

Why Social Media Skills Are Now Business Skills


Some scoff at social media, believing that it’s all a young people’s fad that will soon pass.

But there is growing evidence that those who spend the time to develop their social media skills are benefiting. They are learning some critical, non-trivial capabilities, while adopting the unique habits required to be an effective professional in this new era.

In this article, I look at why these skills are now important and more than “nice-to-haves.”

How Social Media Skills Are Changing Business Forever

Is social media just a passing fad that mature business-people can safely ignore? Is it all just a waste of time? Does lasting, meaningful social activity only take place in person; not over the Internet?

Recently, a Kingston-based friend of mine was intent on taking a destination vacation in the USA with his extended family of nine. He booked 10 days in a motel, thinking that was his best option. However, after he Googled the destination, he discovered AirBnB, the short-term rental service. A  search of the neighbourhood revealed that he could get a beautiful private house in the same location for half the price.

But there was a catch. He learned that AirBnB landlords are not obligated to rent their property to anyone who can afford it. Instead, they only approve people they trust. How does someone who has never met you and lives thousands of miles away come to entrust you, a stranger, with one of their prized possessions? The answer might be obvious – social media.

If you are an AirBnB renter who has never used the service before (and, therefore, has never been rated on the website by a landlord ) you are an unknown entity. In order to reduce the risk, the service encourages property owners to do something unusual. They learn how to check you out online, via sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and company websites. Your public presence on social media, in particular, helps determine whether or not you represent a high risk – the kind of tenant who will ruin their home.

In this case, my friend had a problem. Porn hackers had just taken over his Facebook account, forcing him to start a new one. To a stranger, it would appear as if he had just joined the social network a week ago… a big red flag.

The answer was simple. He needed to beef up his Linkedin profile so that prospective landlords would come to see him as a competent, trusted person. Unfortunately, up until then, his profile looked like an orphan – a place he had visited only once or twice. We added a headshot, biographical data and details of his work history.

In a day or two, the landlord signaled her satisfaction and the subsequent vacation was a total success.

The fact is, a weak online presence may not elicit critiques from your close business associates here in Jamaica. They, like you, may argue “they don’t have the time” to “play around” with social media. Listening mostly to each other, you may all be convinced that it’s unimportant. It may be an echo chamber: a comfort zone in which your friends are just saying and doing the same things.

You may be mistaken in thinking that it doesn’t matter. Obviously, your lack of a profile communicates something to the landlords on AirBnB. The broader question for business-people is “Who else might care?”

A while back, my wife received a message from a man who was coming to Jamaica from Europe to do some business. He wanted to meet her and possibly engage her services in the future.

A quick check on Linkedin raised suspicions: his  profile was also an orphan written in utterly vague language. It took some time, but deeper Google searches showed that his company had a reputation for running a particular scam. Apparently, they knew how to enter a country and extract the information they needed for free, before selling it to their clients.

My wife declined the meeting.

You may be comfortable with the unclear image you are creating online, but there may be opportunities to receive discounts that are passing you by. Also, others outside Jamaica may be ignoring your offers to engage, or making sure they are too busy to take your call.

Social media use for business purposes requires a distinct skill, but don’t wait for the classroom training to be offered. These platforms are evolving too rapidly.

Last year I picked up an ebook that described in detail the  skills required to make effective use of the latest version of Linkedin. I was shocked. Unknown to me, the social network had evolved. Within a few weeks, I picked up hundreds of new connections in one of my key markets overseas.

By contrast, Facebook business pages have recently been rendered impotent. Only paid advertisements are actually making their way to fan’s news feeds, forcing many companies’ strategies to change.

The landscape is changing so fast that the rules must be re-learned every few months. That’s why you simply cannot set up a social media unit and relax. These are now executive skills that cannot be explained in the abstract – they must be experienced firsthand.

In fact, they have become far from optional. They represent a must-have for the business person who is serious and global-minded.

Francis Wade is the author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity, a keynote speaker and a management consultant. To receive a free summary of links to his past articles, send email to

OCt 11 2015 Gleaner

Business In a Rut? Stop “Should-ing” on Yourself


What if business success has something to do with being enlightened? In this column I highlight a single skill that can be found in both spritual and corporate success-stories.

Business In a Rut? Stop “Should-ing” on Yourself

One way that leaders in local companies get stuck in a rut is by refusing to accept the current business world… as it is. While it sounds obvious, there are many who are losing profits by complaining incessantly that the local environment isn’t the way it should be. How do you get yourself unstuck, if you are?

A friend of mine once taught me a trick. “If you call a large company (such as your least favorite utility) and get someone on the phone who is incompetent, just thank the person and hang up. Then, using what you have learned, immediately call back and

talk with someone else. Repeat the process until you get the answer you want, using your newfound knowledge on each subsequent call.”

Another American friend of mine (before the 9/11 terrorist attacks) shared that he often received first-class upgrades on flights. How? By simply making a polite request at the counter.

Finally, a vice president in a general insurance company advised me that there are some people who negotiate lower car insurance rates.

“How?” I asked.

“By asking.”

In each of these cases, I was stunned. Like many, I am likely to hang up after the first bad call, feeling upset. I also rarely ask for the extras I want and (even worse) believe that requesting a “bligh” is equivalent to doing something bad.

Now, it’s obvious that I only get myself stuck when I fall into these traps. In each of these three situations, there is an effective approach that most people don’t pursue. When you are a businessperson, the cost of stopping yourself is not only in personal convenience but in profits. What do you need to do to make sure that you can “Wheel and Come Again” as often as you need to, without a hint of frustration?

1. Find the Thought Behind the Stress

If you are feeling stressed for more than a quick instant, it’s a likely sign that you need to ask some deeper questions. For example, if you think the world has to change in order to regain your peace of mind, you will suffer. Jamaica’s recession is teaching us that waiting around for business conditions to improve, and for happiness to descend with it, is suicide. When we understand that stress isn’t predetermined by outside circumstances but involves our own thought patterns, that’s a strong beginning.

2. Look for the “Is-World” Beyond the “Should-World”

One of the stressful thoughts I struggle with is:  “A company should be staffed with competent people who can anticipate my wants/needs as a customer.” It’s a perfect example of what some call “Living in a Should-World.” When I am in this mindset I am preoccupied by the way things should be, complaining that my critical standard is not being met. I become impatient, upset and ineffective.

The alternative is “Living in the Is-World.” In this frame of mind, someone accepts what life has offered at that moment fully and completely. It doesn’t mean that he isn’t trying to change things, it simply implies that progress starts by “hugging up” reality.

Businesspeople who do so are free to act without frustration. They are unfazed, quickly accepting the way things are and acting accordingly. Not to say that this is easy, but a long recession shouldn’t be wasted: it is a special time to comprehend big, lifelong lessons.

3. Realize that No-One is to Blame

Sometimes, in corporate life, no person is at fault. A few CEO’s ago, I was standing at the counter of a Digical store trying to use my loyalty points when I learned they had “expired.” Unknown to me, there was a new policy. Since then I have learned that the company had every legal right to change the programme. Furthermore, it had announced the change in the press.

However, I have spoken with over 10 employees (plus a number of my friends) who also had their points deducted, to their shock. They also had no clue the change was coming, costing them valuable points in their account. One employee’s mother was “killing him” with complaints.

But I’m lucky… I have been using my points over the years. Other patient accumulators are the big losers.

Oftentimes, when I recall the incident, I feel cheated. As if a trusted partner who sends me lots of texts, a monthly bill and regular email chose to quietly remove money from my bank account.

I struggle to accept this reality but try not to give up. On each call to Digicel, I complain loudly about the “injustice.” Here I am writing about it.

Even though I’m clear that my appeals might fail, I still feel empowered when I take action. That’s a benefit of not “Should-ing” on myself and accepting the reality of what is.

Francis Wade is a management consultant, keynote speaker and author of Perfect Time-Based Productivity. To receive a summary with links to past columns, or give feedback, email:

Sep 23 2015 Gleaner Stop Should-ing