Their approach to using time sets high achievers apart

February 03, 1992|By Gerald Graham | Gerald Graham,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Are high-achieving people different? B. Eugene Griessman, a noted interviewer of high achievers, concludes that the answer is "yes." In his book, "The Achievement Factors," Griessman reports several ways that high achievers differ. One difference is how they view time.

* Time awareness -- Ten minutes after Ted Turner won the America's Cup race in 1977, he was in a phone booth nailing down a business deal.

Stanley Marcus of Neiman-Marcus department stores admitted that he was "extremely time conscious" about every minute of the week. High achievers tend to value time as their most precious asset.

* Time management -- Because time is so precious, high achievers are very efficient with each minute of the day. Mark McCormack, author of "What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School," views each week as 168 hours. He then schedules each event in the week -- tennis time, time to read the paper, appointments, phone time and even moments of empty space to allow his mind to drift.

People who dealt with David Rockefeller during his tenure as chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank agree that you could set your clockby his commitments. He walked into a 10 a.m. appointment precisely at 10. If the appointment was set for 20 minutes, he departed promptly at 10:20.

* Long hours -- Osborn Elliott, after conducting 200 interviews with chief executives, concluded that they were "among the hardest-working people in the world."

Charles Thornton said that when he was head of Litton Industries, he awakened at 4 a.m. to go to work. Robert Gross, chairman of Lockheed Aircraft, said he averaged four or five hours of sleep a night.

"Damn right it wears me out," Gross admitted. Yet, high achievers proclaim loudly how much they enjoy their work. One said, "I would not exchange my work for a million dollars a day."

* Flexibility -- Schedules and time awareness, however, do not drive out flexibility.

When John Fuqua of Fuqua Industries was asked, "Are you willing to abandon any agenda to pursue a new opportunity?" he responded, "Absolutely."

Another highly structured planner said: "I try to manage each day well, but if something turns up I didn't expect, I take advantage of it."

Stanley Marcus even admitted that he would interrupt a meeting an important customer wanted to talk to him.

While this approach to time use cannot guarantee high achievements, it probably does increase your odds of success.

Management quiz

Respond to each statement by using the following scale: 4 for strongly agree, 3 for agree, 2 for disagree, and 1 for strongly disagree.

Regarding my use of time, I . . .

1. Am acutely aware of how I spend each minute of the day.

2. Regard time as more important than money.

3. Schedule every event, including leisure time, of each day.

4. Am a stickler for keeping my time commitments.

5. Conclude meetings on time.

6. Typically average more than 10 hours a day on my work.

7. Often go to bed tired.

8. Will alter my schedule to take advantage of unexpected opportunities.

9. Operate on a tight schedule.

10. Honestly dislike giving my time to someone else.

Total your points. If you scored 35 points or more, your regard fotime is similar to that of high achievers.

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