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Summary: 3 OF 7 in series on Personal Cange

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Put First Things First

Matthew 6:33

In addition to self-awareness, imagination, and conscience, it a fourth endowment - independent will - that really makes effective self-management possible. It is the ability to make decisions and choices and to act in accordance with them. It is the ability to act rather to be acted upon, to proactively carry out the progression we have already established in the previous three endowments.

As we examine this endowment in the context of effective self-management, we realize it’s usually not the dramatic, the visible, the once in a lifetime, up by the bootstraps effort that brings enduring success. Empowerment comes from learning how to use this great endowment in the decisions we make every day.

The degree to which we have developed our independent will in our everyday lives is measured by our independent will in our everyday lives is measured by our personal integrity. Integrity is fundamentally, the value we place on ourselves. It’s our ability to make and keep commitments to ourselves, to "walk our talk." It’s honor with self, a fundamental part of the character ethic, the essence of proactive growth.

Effective management is putting first things first. While leadership decides what "first things" are, it is management that puts them first, day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Management is discipline, carrying it out.

Discipline derives from the word disciple - disciple of Christ, disciple to the set principles of the word of God, disciple to an overriding purpose, to a superordinate cause.

Look at somebody and tell that somebody "LEARN WHAT IT TAKES TO SAY ’NO’".

Some time ago, my friends at school invited a friend of mine to serve as president of a club in our school. They had a number of truly important things that they wanted to get down and they wanted to have a leader other than themselves to do it. But she felt pressured into it and finally agreed.

Then she called one of her close friends to ask if she would serve on her committee. The friend listened for a long time and then said, "Girl, that sounds like a wonderful project, a really worthy undertaking. I appreciate so much your inviting me to be a part of it. I feel honored by it. For a number of reasons, I won’t be participating myself, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your invitation."

She was ready for anything but a pleasant "no". She turned to me and after telling me her little spill, sighed and said, "I wish ’d said that."

I don’t mean to imply that you shouldn’t be involved in significant service projects. Those things are important. But you have to decide what your highest priorities are and have courage - pleasantly smilingly, non-apologetically - say no to other things by having a bigger yes burning on the inside.

We say "yes" or "no" to things daily, usually many times everyday. A center of correct principles and a focus on our mission empower us with wisdom to make those judgments effectively.

As I continue to work with more effective people, I am learning and seeing more and more that the essence of effective time and life management is to organize and execute around balanced priorities. Then I as I was thinking about this, I asked myself this question: if I were to fault myself in one of three areas, which would it be: (1) the inability to prioritize; (2) the inability or desire to organize around those priorities; or (3) the lack of discipline to execute around them, to stay with your priorities and organization?

Most of us say their main fault is a lack of discipline. On deeper though, I believe that is not the case. The basic problem is that their priorities have not been deeply rooted in God and planted into their hearts and minds.

Look at somebody else and say to that person "LIVE IT".

Living it is primarily a function of our independent will, our self-discipline, our integrity, and commitment - not to the impulse of the moment, but to the correct principles and our deepest values, which give meaning and context to our visions, our agendas and our lives.

As you go through life, there will undoubtedly be times when your integrity will be placed on the line. The popularity of reacting to the urgent but unimportant priorities of other people or the pleasure of escaping to higher heights and levels will threaten to overpower the important activities you have planned in accomplishing the vision. Your principle center, your self-awareness and God-awareness, and guidance and wisdom to empower you to use your independent will and maintain integrity to the truly important.

But because you aren’t omniscient, you can’t always know in advance what is truly important. As you carefully seek God, as a principle-centered person, you will need to subordinate your plans to the higher plan of God. Because you are a principle-centered person, you can do that with an inner sense of peace.

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