They're dated, but some of Harvey MacKay's books are my favorites. And the topic of "time" is intimately and intensely important when we think about "fill." And when we think about "fill," it's not just about pipelines and forecasts and projections and budgets.
"Fill" is about quality of life.
And, no, I'm not going to apologize for going all existential on you, either!
Since I do so love alliteration, the words "proactive, preparation, and priority" get me sorta warm and fuzzy. If I know I have 20 minutes to get ready for something, I prioritize differently than if I know I have 20 days. The key is: How do I get proactive in filling my time, in either case?
Last time we talked about the importance of "down" time.
Oddly enough, when our topic is "fill," I wonder what would happen if the first step we took in filling our time was to empty some of it out? I'm not sure if it's 10 minutes a couple times per day, or an hour a week or what it is, but if we committed, passionately, to a period of preparation time regularly where no phone, no IM, no e-mail, no text message, no shiny item or anything else was going to detract from it, how focused would we be? (And look, if you think I'm too passionate about this, YOU try typing that many italics in the middle of a sentence… it was worth the effort!)
How much can we know – absolutely know before we go in to a situation, and what is the benefit?
Well, the benefit is that not everything happens at once. One thing happens – and it covers almost everything.
Example: One of the most compelling experiences of my life was watching John Roberts during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
A bunch of senators, most with bad intentions (gee! A shocker, I know!), sat behind stacks and stacks of paper, trying to slip, rip and trip him up. They'd scurry and scuffle through, looking for obscure items to make him look bad.
Roberts sat there without a tablet. Without a pen. Just him and a career of preparation. John Roberts sat there completely prepared. And never before has a "product" been "sold" to a hostile, negative customer with so little resistance.
Fill more time with preparation – that's the kind of "fill" that will make incredible things happen every day.
Steve Heston is vice president of Financial Services at Acxiom Corp.