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The Daily Paradox

The Daily Paradox: Self-management

We spend a lot of time teaching people management. Treating those you live and work with decently and skilfully pays big rewards for a business’s suppliers, employees and customers. That’s how it makes profits. Authoritarianism has been mangled by the arrival of social media, aggressive uncovering of rotten management and massive changes in skills needs. Training for successful management pays off many times over.

Our physical self-management has improved significantly since we learnt more about the body and mind and how ingestion and exercise contribute to their welfare. I remember a time when sixty cigarettes a day and driving home drunk without getting caught was the hallmark of a macho man. Law and order have almost eliminated these wayward practices, though drugs and vapes seem to be making bold attempts to thwart them. Hopefully they, too, won’t succeed.

The management of our personal lives, meanwhile, has taken a beating. This is because there are no longer those helpful people who took the time to explain, in your level of intellect and language, how to complete a tricky form or handle an income tax statement. ‘Frequently asked questions’ is a poor substitute for a friendly and honest explainer. The pace of life hasn’t helped either. The longer we live the more we seem determined to cram into our journey on the planet – to a point where we are failing to appreciate what we have.

Our self-management should not be only for efficiency. Those who lead fairly ordered lives get through the inevitable grunt work better and faster than those who don’t, so getting it right proves a time bonus. But there is another side to self-management that is neglected. We are here to be happy. There is no other more important purpose in life. Most people only see excess as a route to achieving this. They discover that it doesn’t work.

Our own happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness we bring to others. What we do for them is help them appreciate life and we cannot do that unless we have found it ourselves. Appreciation is the key to good self-management and it can be learned.

There are five rules prerequisite to appreciating life:

[1] Don’t skip over it. Oh, we have to skip-read and skip-work many things. We should be careful that those we do don’t come back and bite us. A well-known aircraft servicer may have gotten a bit too skippy and cost many lives. But I am talking of pleasures. Skip them and you become merely a witless collector of addresses, events and people.

[2] Savour the details. One good party is better than two rushed parties. When you watch a film on your screen, read the introduction and end titles. The director put them there as a statement and stimulus, and so that you could appreciate the effort he made. Long establishing intros are there to make you ponder. See if you can work out what about.

[3] Let people think for themselves both at home and at work. Don’t answer questions you think the asker should already know about. Ask questions back and learn. Every day is a  day in class. Do this and you will break through the ‘class’ ceiling.

[4] Be critical but less for the wrong, more for joy. Whatever you are seeing, listening to, participating in, is someone’s hard work. If they’ve got it right, congratulate them. If wrong, teach them. We all remember our best teachers.

[5] Care fully and deeply for everything that you have to deal with. Care’s energy is time, its reward, fulfilment.

You don’t learn to appreciate so that you can feel good.

You do so to experience joy.

Good morning

John Bittleston

You may like to see the new Terrific Mentors International website at

9 March 2024