Learning from Old Lessons

Learning from Old Lessons

In today’s guest blog post, we introduce Bruce Baker on the topic of learning from old lessons.

Bruce holds a Masters in Industrial Psychology and is a behavioural business strategist, coach, and change agent. He brings you a wide-ranging skillset in business operational design, planning, and execution, with significant success in leveraging the only growing capital asset a business has– its people.

With over 23 years of experience working with Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 companies in a wide variety of industries, Bruce focuses on working closely with anyone from new entrepreneurs, business owners, CEOs and their leadership teams.

Your time with Bruce will give you new and fresh insights as he rejects traditional methods of business coaching and consulting while providing you with a very unique and enlightening perspective on how to view and build your business. Bruce will work with you to see what your business is made of and then recognize and address its strengths and vulnerabilities, allowing it to grow with minimal or no risk at all.

Learning from Old Lessons

I would like to welcome those of you following the Learning Without Scars blogs. Welcome to my musings on what is called the Chronicles of Business Leader. My name is Bruce, and I work with Business Leaders and their leadership teams to help them scale-up, start-up, or fix-up their respective companies.

In my blogs, I will focus on discussions I’ve had with business leaders about their challenges and how they have and are becoming successful.

Previously I discussed the reason for ongoing business failure. This is due to a single focus on the non-human aspects of a business (systems, tools, programs etc.). The focus must start with the human element first (i.e., Business leader/C.E.O.) and then the non-human factors. When the business leader understands and identifies with a solution, success is inevitable!

The experience I had this week highlights the usefulness of a powerful tool and technique. Using this tool positions a business leader for massive success.

Many call it “being discipline,” “maintaining focus,” or “not being distracted.” These terms apply to business success but have not aided the business leader.

This week, I want to share an experience I had with a business leader named Robert. Rob owns and operates a mid-sized heavy equipment dealership business he started up almost 10-year ago. I’ve been working with Rob to help him scale his company for over four months now.

When Rob and I started talking, he struck me as an intelligent and well-read man. He could rattle off all the latest and greatest business and leadership books and related tools and systems. Business leaders I had and continue to work with referred Rob to me as I was “the guy who helped business leaders achieve instrumental success.” I asked Rob why he had not used any of these great ideas and best practices he learned about in the books. His response to me was simple but not surprising. He said, and I quote, “I can’t seem to find the time, and when I have some time, I get distracted by other things. I may have a challenge with Attention Deficit Disorder…not sure.”

Regardless, Rob’s business was about to tank if he could not take what he knew and make it a reality in his company. I gave Rob a concept and tool a few weeks ago that made all the difference in him gaining traction.

The concept and tool are not new but initially came from a person named Dwight D. Eisenhower. As many of you know, Dwight was the 34th President of the United States. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the US Army and Supreme Commander during World War II. He had to make tough decisions about which of the many tasks he should focus on each day. This led him to the Eisenhower principle, which prioritizes urgency and importance. Go to www.Eisenhower.me/Eisenhower-matrix for further information.

So, how did Rob benefit and continue to benefit? Simply put, most of us are told to work on our time management skills. Frankly, the term “time management” is not aligned with how our human brains work. I said this to Rob, and he was taken back by my comments asking what the solution was if not for managing one’s time. I asked Rob how many people he knew that attended a time management course and were great “time managers”? Rob smiled and said, “true enough, but what then is the solution?” I responded and said, “task/action management.”

Actions and the commitment we make to take these actions are tangibles that our minds are designed to handle well. The brain can take hold of and then work through what and why something needs to be executed.

Asking “why” a task/action needs to be executed uses the powerhouse combination of the logic and emotion that makes action happen. Without the rational and emotional elements working together, failure to execute continues.

So how did Rob make this successful? Well, like most humans, once suggesting this to Rob, it was the last time we spoke about it after a few weeks. Yes, this was by design, but for a good reason. I followed up with Rob in one of our sessions a few weeks later and asked how his “Action Management” was coming along. He responded by saying, “it’s not.” I told him that this was normal and not to give himself a hard time about it. I then worked with him to show how he could make execution happen. This is how I explained it to him:

  1. Actions in any business are almost all important/relevant in some or another way. Trying to make a specific task less or more important is challenging for Spending time figuring out the amount of “importance” takes up a lot of energy. This makes people abandon their commitment to making something happen. Why? Because all these “important” tasks accumulate in our heads and stay there. This creates an emotional lens when making decisions increasing stress and feeling overwhelmed. The next thing we know is that we have done nothing to achieve traction in the business. So how do we distinguish all these important actions and avoid inaction?


  1. This is where the level of “urgency” falls into the The word “urgency” doesn’t always engender a feeling of “calm” for many. The term “urgency” means the time to execute an action/task(s). Start by asking yourself if the task/action is important/relevant. Then, ask how “urgent” the task is (i.e., when the task must be completed). Splitting this in your mind separates the emotional from the logical. This is where the “magic” starts to happen!

The sheer number of items Rob had on his to-do list was staggering! No wonder the poor guy was paralyzed! Rob’s list (and I kid you not) had over 130 items, and to no surprise, each item was “important.” So, I commented, “If everything is important, nothing is…”

We worked through the to-do list for about two hours. In a matter of days, Rob managed to achieve traction on what needed to get done. He has started to make profound impacts in the business and has begun to see significant results. Rob’s interpretation of himself shifted from being disorganized and distracted to someone entirely different. He now has his weekends to himself and finally started to increase his business volume in a matter of two weeks! This success is and continues to be due to Rob connecting the positive impacts a tool and system have on himself and his business. This impact has also created a snowball effect that has enhanced his team’s performance and other areas of his business.

Last week, Rob mentioned that the number of sales leads that week increased by almost 45%. He said this was due to him “finding time” to work on a lead magnet that finally produced results.

For more information on the tool and process, please email info@4workplaces.com

I hope you found this information helpful and look forward to seeing you again soon.

For classes on this subject, please click here.
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