Thursday, Nov 24 -7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey’s was a listener favorite so we decided to bring it back. This week is Habit 3, Put first things first.
Jim Schauer: [0:08] Good morning, LinkedIn community, energy community, and more. Welcome to a very special edition of “Coffee with Jimmy & James.” Normally I start off with a little bit of a fun, frivolous intro. Today we’re going to keep it more on the serious side, more on the leadership development side.
[0:24] About a month or so ago, we had a segment on “The 7 Habits,” sharpening the saw, which I have to tell you and James is going to go into it was overwhelmingly reviewed and replied and commented on by hundreds if not thousands of listeners and viewers.
[0:41] We decided for this Thanksgiving week to dive back into another one of the seven habits, which we hope that you folks will, again, gain a little nugget and make your life even better than it is right now.
[0:54] So, without further ado, let me bring in the man of the hour. The one that actually has studied seven habits. Has trained on it, has given presentations. I’m very proud to have my co‑host, Mr. James Cross, deliver this wonderful episode today. James, how are you this fine morning?
James Cross: [1:13] Doing well. I always think, when I answer that question, it’d be funny to go back through all the episodes and get my answer, and see how many times I said that. So, maybe Amy will do that for us as a Christmas present, but these are always fun, Jim.
[1:30] We talked about this a while back about, you know, how could we bring something different. You know, take a new kind of angle and theme with these. Honestly, at Energy Worldnet, we live a very seven‑habits‑centered life over here. We attempt to, right?
[1:48] As Matt…Dr. Matt Joyner says, “We walk in direction, not perfection.” So, we’re always trying to keep that center, and so we said, “Why not share,” right? There’s got to be other people.
[2:02] What better time than, when you’re trapped behind a computer screen and you’re just screaming for content ‑‑ or screaming for help in some cases ‑‑ than to learn a little bit while we do these. So, that’s the goal today Jim, and I’m excited to get to do that for…
[2:21] I was…I don’t know about you, Jim, but I was pleasantly surprised about how well the reception was from the first one. So…
Jim: [2:30] Oh. [inaudible] .
James: [2:30] Like you said…Yeah, yeah, I had a lot of people reach out and say, “I hope y’all will go through another habit.” You know, unless things change, you know. Jim always jokes, we always joke about it.
[2:40] Long as we don’t get canceled, as soon as this [laughs] pandemic’s over, and everybody’s like, “Oh. No, let’s just do conferences again,” we hope to bring all seven habits to our audience.
Jim: [2:53] It’s a great thing. Many people get at least something out of it. Again, if you can do something to change your life in a little bit of a way to make it more positive…I’m thrilled for this episode, because I’m anticipating learning something. I am new to seven habits. James, you have taught me a lot.
[3:11] Let’s dive right into it if we can. At a very high level, this habit has to do with putting first things first. James, can you give us a little highlight as to what that means for us and what we can expect?
James: [3:26] Sure. That’s the habit, putting first things first. It’s about ensuring that you stick to the important and impactful things in your life. Things that ultimately make a difference. A lot of times we find ourselves pushing some things back. There’s something in your life. Joe, I don’t know what that thing is for you.
[3:48] We all have that dream or that one thing that we’ve continued to put on the back burner, kicking that proverbial can down the road again and again and again. It’s the first habit in what Covey calls the public victory. For those that maybe aren’t seven habit nerds like me, the first two habits are private victory.
[4:14] What that means is, it’s all within yourself. You have to change and shift your paradigms that already exist, and move to more of a principle‑based life. Once you make that private victory, then you can take it to the public. This is that first habit that’s public facing.
[4:38] First things first, at the end of the day, is just ensuring that you’re not in the weeds and putting out fires all day. Instead, you’re working through projects and visions and innovations and ideas that are impact when a lot of the time for businesses they’re lucrative too, that’s a fantastic byproduct.
[5:00] These habits are fantastic habits to form. Even if they’re chunk by chunk, little by little, you begin to shape and mold your time and your choices to better your overall effectiveness. Did that answer it?
Jim: [5:20] Well, [laughs] as you do so well, you sparked so many thoughts up here. I love the concept and the process and everything. I want to be real with you for a moment. Many of us, let’s say in the energy industry and I hear this every day. I’m talking to people every night on the weekends.
“[5:43] Wow, my day got so far behind, I was putting out fires all day.” They were doing things, but it’s very reactive and not proactive. I would say, I’m a victim of that at times.
James: [5:56] We all are, yeah.
Jim: [5:56] You have every intention. Get out of bed at 6:00 in the morning, I’m like, “I’m going to do this, this, and this.” Then all of a sudden, by 8:45, it’s like, “Oh wow. OK. I’m ‘behind the eight ball’ already putting out fires.” What can we do about that?
James: [6:13] Yeah, you hit it. Proactive, right? That’s the first habit. Getting ahead of it. So easy to talk about, so hard to do sometimes.
Jim: [6:23] Right.
James: [6:24] We all do it all the time. COVID talks, about it. You know, it’s really a default thing. The path of least resistance. You know, the lazy kind of path, and I’ve been there. I’m there. There’s things I’m doing right now that feel like that, you know.
[6:42] You know, like you said you wake up. Your work day’s chaos, you clock out. You worry about it when you get home. Maybe you don’t sleep well, then you wake up you do it all again, right?
Jim: [6:52] Yeah.
James: [6:52] I mean, for a lot of people, that’s just how they view work, which is wild to think of because I definitely don’t view work that way, but that’s where “first things first” come in.
[7:08] If I have the ability to focus on the big picture, focus on the cause of the million little fires instead of the fires, then we can begin to, you know, really slow that flywheel and change our overall behaviors.
[7:27] Over time ‑‑ but Jimmy, not overnight ‑‑ we’ll see those fires then, right? We can focus with even more proactive behaviors. Then, and only then, I think is when you begin to truly live that habit of “first things first.”
Jim: [7:45] Yeah. I would imagine, James, that probably once you start feeling success with it, it kind of grows that a little bit like a snowball. A little bit bigger…
James: [7:55] It’s that flywheel, right? I mean, flywheels work in either direction, right?
Jim: [7:59] Right.
James: [8:00] I mean, in this situation, it can be a negative…Their habits.
Jim: [8:04] Yeah.
James: [8:04] We got to remember that, right?
Jim: [8:05] Yeah.
James: [8:06] It’s a habit. It’s not a “get rich” scheme. It’s not, you know, how you can take the shortcut and get ahead. It’s about establishing those principles that cover layout.
Jim: [8:17] Habits are repetition, correct? You know, by doing it over. OK. Now, when I mention, you know, habits, repetition, and such. All right, I’m looking to you right now. Our audience is looking to you.
[8:33] Tips and tricks. Do you have any that you can give us that we can start to implement this and get on the path?
James: [8:41] Yeah. Jim, I’m going to use you as an example here, all right? We actually had a really good conversation one day when we were talking about habits and seven habits. I wanted to use that example today because I think it’s a micro, but a great example of it.
[9:04] When I met you, Jim, you walked more than any person I’d ever seen, all right? You walked when you woke up. You walked when you talked on the phone, which was a lot. You walked in the morning. You walked at night. You walked to the grocery store. Just walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. Right?
Jim: [9:21] Yeah.
James: [9:21] I would argue that it was for both your sanity and mental health, but also, I mean, obviously you’ve got the physical benefits from it as well. You’re probably the healthiest you’ve ever been, you know. You probably figured out a lot of the world’s problems in your world on those walks. Am I right?
Jim: [9:45] I did. Absolutely.
James: [9:47] It’s a great time, you know. That’s why a lot of people play golf. That’s why presidents play golf was because a lot of the business and the ideation and things happen in that downtime. There’s a balance to that, right?
[10:02] That’s a great habit, that’s the whole point of that, right? The walking. Amazing time. It’s both, you know, it’s a win‑win as far as physical and mental, right? OK, so, Jim, I’m just going to ask you.
[10:15] I assume the walking’s going amazing right now. I’m sure you’ve been walking a lot with all the stress. You moved from Texas to Florida over the past year. You’ve got a new fiancé. Congratulations. Y’all are living together, I hope I didn’t spoil that for your parents.
[10:33] COVID, pandemic. Social unrest, political turmoil. Our industry and the impacts it’s had from the economy this year. I can only imagine that you’ve walked a million miles in 2020.
Jim: [10:50] OK. Full disclosure. Virtually zero.
James: [10:54] Right.
Jim: [10:54] Virtually zero, and I’m not happy about that. Tammy tells me all the time, “Go for a walk. Get out. Clear your head.” You know, “Let it all go.” I find like, “Oh, I got to get on and do this,” or, “I got to do that.” You know, “This is waiting. I got to,” you know.
[11:11] I push it back and I should be pushing it forward. Because honestly, your point, when I used to walk, I would walk four to six miles every night. I would decompress the day. I would line everything up in my brain. I would plan for tomorrow, so when I went to bed, I felt good mentally.
[11:27] When I woke up in the morning too, I actually woke up with the idea that I already planned my day the night before on that walk. I woke up feeling very like, “OK, let’s get some other things out of the way,” because I already took that time to plan my day last night. You’re absolutely right. I’m…I need to start walking again because it was absolutely wonderful.
[11:48] I’m going to say 70/30. 70 percent was mental and 30 percent was physical. But even though it was the best shape I’ve ever been in, that just tells you how great it was mentally.
James: [12:01] Right. It’s very freeing. So, then I’ll follow that up, Jimmy was saying. How’s your mental health right now, and how are you sleeping?
Jim: [12:11] [laughs]
James: [12:12] And how…You know what I mean. I mean, it’s funny, right?
Jim: [12:16] Yeah.
James: [12:16] That one of the things Covey, Covey talks about is, you know, “Whatever has to be done is going to get done.” It can be done proactively or not, right? It’s the oil change in the car.
[12:29] Now, you can do it at 3,000 miles and you can do it when the light comes on. You can do it when there’s smoke pouring out of your hood, but either way, the task is going to get done, right?
[12:39] So, you can proactively go on a walk and kill a couple of birds with one stone. Come back and get a good night’s sleep, or you will be up in the night and worry and concern until your body finally wears down, and you wear out, right?
[12:58] You burn out, you fizzle. You…Then you got to take four days off, and guess what? At the end of the day, you got the rest you needed. It wasn’t proactive. It was very reactive, but that’s the reality, right?
[13:11] So, you know, I challenge you. If that is what helps your stress, helps you things to ideate, then why don’t you schedule it, right?
[13:22] So, you ask about tips. I know these next two weeks, Jim, are going to be crazy. You know, this next month, we’re rolling into the holidays. You’ve already got stuff on your schedule. Scheduled out well into December, but you might be able to schedule two times a week to go walk.
[13:45] After you get through that holiday, you can probably start scheduling into your new year. I don’t…You have a lot on your schedule already for 2021, right? If you schedule that, then nobody else can schedule it.
Jim: [14:00] Yeah.
James: [14:01] So, it seems like a super micro example, but if you’ll start scheduling time with yourself, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done. Whatever that is, right? So, it may be writing that song, it may be painting. It might be reading, it might be gardening.
[14:22] You know, whatever it is. Being the best damn dad that you could be, you know. Whatever it is because if you don’t make the time and schedule what is first for you, guess what? Someone else is going to schedule what’s first for them on your schedule, and you’ll be going…
Jim: [14:41] That’s a good point.
James: [14:42] You’ll be going, “Wow, man. You know, they really got their life together, and I just can’t even,” and, “No, they’re just putting first things first,” right?
Jim: [14:52] Yeah.
James: [14:52] So, I’m going to give one more example and it’s actually internal. It’s Crystal Stromberg who’s amazing, one of our co‑workers.
[15:00] I always joke, “If I see a meeting scheduled for four o’clock on a Friday, it’s Crystal Stromberg’s meeting,” right? But, you know who always gets their first things done? Crystal Stromberg, right?
[15:14] Because I may look on Friday and afternoon and go, “You know what? I’m not going to do that to anybody, man. I’m going to let them cost off into that, you know, into their weekend and go about my business.”
[15:24] You know what, at the end of the day my first things won’t get done, but Crystal’s will because she’s amazing.
Jim: [15:31] Let me just hop in though, because that thought invokes “sharpen the saw.” You gave me some great advice because we were talking about working nights and weekends, and all this and doing things.
[15:44] You’re like, “Yeah, but if you get that done. If you spend a half‑hour on the computer on a Saturday morning and get that off your plate, just think how better your mind and body is going to be for the rest of the weekend.” As opposed to that little half‑hour hanging over head, you know, “Oh, I should have did that.”
James: [16:00] Yeah, because here’s the deal, Jim. If you don’t have that four o’clock Friday meeting, guess what? You’re going to have a 9:30 on Monday.
Jim: [16:08] Yeah.
James: [16:08] You’re going to schedule that one? Probably not. All right. Well then now, I’m doing it. That’s…There’s no question why we have Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday scrammed in from a scheduling standpoint. It’s because first things first.
Jim: [16:21] Yeah. All right, James. Let’s take this to the next level. You know, we talked about some kind of easy things to do and again, I like that…I think our audience is going to like that too, but you know, let’s take it up a little bit.
[16:36] Are there bold moves that we can do? I mean, what people might consider bold in the industry, you know, to help us take control more of what we do and what we want to do?
James: [16:49] I don’t know if I’d call them bold, you know. Like they’re not going to be earth‑shattering. [laughs] I’m not going to melt anybody’s brains with what I’m about to say because I also believe there’s some value in having very simple and attainable, you know, actions or goals, right?
[17:07] Like, at least, especially when you’re starting. “Let’s get some wins. Let’s get some momentum. Let’s get some excitement, and let’s, you know, go to work. So, I’m going to…I’ll hit you with three, you know, in my opinion, but, like I said, they’re not going to be bold, or maybe they will be.
[17:23] I would start…OK, Jim, I told everybody at the beginning of this year…This is some insider trading stuff going on right here because I actually made a proclamation beginning of this year that I was going to focus on first things first. All right?
[17:41] So, this one right here, man. It’s a little dirty poker. I have some inside information because I’m very passionate about this habit this year. I said at the beginning of the year, “Everyone, hold me to it, and I’m going to hold you to it.
“[17:54] We as a department, we as a company, we as me are going to put first things first. So, if we need it, you better be scheduling it, doing it, because you’re going to struggle to find gaps. Because if not, I’m going to fill all the gaps. OK?”
[18:10] Making that declaration, that proclamation, I think that’s the biggest part. The reason is because people will rally around you, OK? They want you to meet your goals. They…If you have the right team and teammates, they’re going to, you know, help you get there, right?
Jim: [18:31] Yeah. They will. Let me make, bring an observation, and just struck a chord with me. A bold move that you did during the relaunch, rebrand, all that, you called me.
[18:43] We were talking on the phone, you’re like, “I’m going to start declining meetings because if they don’t pertain to me and my day, and the mission‑critical path that I’m on, it’s just going to get in the way.”
[18:56] You sent out a really nice email to literally all the leadership saying, “Please understand where I’m at. I’m going to be declining meetings because I need my head in the game.” So you kind of set it upfront, and then all of a sudden…I’m sure it was hard to decline. I mean, we don’t plan meetings, you know, it’s accept, accept, accept.
James: [19:13] Part of that culture, right?
Jim: [19:14] That was a bold move. It was a very good move.
James: [19:16] Well, and I can’t take credit for that. Jeff, our president, was the one who told me. Jeff Isabel, he, you know, he’s the one that said, “As long as you provide paths, right? Go for it.” So yeah, I mean, OK, and I’ll give you that.
[19:33] But, but even starting into this year, you know…First things first, it was a big thing for me and, and for the goals that we set, and you know, Jeff told me one time. Funny enough that, that, that just came up. Jeff Isabel, our president here in the energy world that said, “You know, no one likes surprises except for the birthday and Christmas, right?”
[19:53] So, in this situation, what I’m saying is, why wouldn’t you want that known that you’re going to work on that and that is something that you’re going to need help with, right? And, and that way everybody can be a part of your plan, right?
Jim: [20:05] Yeah.
James: [20:06] You’re transparent. You’re honest. You make it known and everybody’s gonna support you, back you up, and hold you to it, right? So that’s number one, make it known. OK, go after it.
Jim: [20:18] OK.
James: [20:18] Number two, and this one applies to all the habits in my opinion, the habits as a whole. Because our eyes get really big, right? Or my eyes, people always say in Texas my eyes are bigger than my stomach was right? You know, load up that big plate at Thanksgiving, you come back, and you’re like, “Man, my eyes are bigger.”
Jim: [20:37] [laughs]
James: [20:38] Same thing with these habits when you get excited and you’re like, “Man, it’s going to work. I want to employ all of them.” And guess what?
Jim: [20:44] Yeah.
James: [20:44] You don’t have good habits right now. [laughs]
Jim: [20:46] Yeah. Yeah.
James: [20:47] There’s a reason you’re reading this book, right?
Jim: [20:49] Mm‑hmm.
James: [20:50] So, so, you don’t have good habits, so you try to do all of it at once and fails. You hate it, and that’s some, you know, and then I quit. And then I go back to my old habits because it’s lazy, it’s easier, right?
Jim: [21:00] Right. Right.
James: [21:01] So, so don’t, don’t go too much too soon on this one. It took you years to build these habits. You’re not gonna break ’em and reintroduce new ones in a day, in a week, in a month, right? There have it…You know, they always say, “How do you eat an elephant?” How do you eat an elephant, Jimmy?
Jim: [21:21] One bite at a time?
James: [21:23] Absolutely, right? And these habits are no different, all right? You can’t fix your schedule in one afternoon, but you can do a whole hell of a lot better than what you’re doing right now, right? You agree?
[21:35] If, Jimmy, if you schedule one walk a week, you would be doing one more week than you’re doing now, I’m sure. 100 percent improvement, right? So, schedule it, go to work on it, and, and take it chunk by chunk.
[21:57] All right, last one and this one’s super simple. I should have put this one first, but I feel like I beat this drum all the time and our speaking topic’s up. The ones I’m blessed to be able to do, this is always one of my tips and that’s just to start, right? It’s so simple.
[22:16] We can get an analysis paralysis all day long, you know, go down this path of just tearing yourself apart and all the things you do good, bad, ugly, and indifferent, and never get started, and if it…if that means scheduling a meeting with yourself to get down to it, treat it like a project, right?
Jim: [22:36] Yeah.
James: [22:36] Make, make time for it. Figure out what are your first things first. That sounded crazy. Figure out what your first things are first, OK, because I think you’ll be surprised when you start digging into that what really is first, and is it principal‑faced or is it very…
[22:58] Covey always says, and we just learned about this, Jim, in the last tab. Habit two talks about this all the time, but sometimes what you are focusing on, you just need to go up a level.
Jim: [23:10] Yeah.
James: [23:11] And, and it sounds weird, but be more generic. Principles are more generic‑based, right? And so find out what those things are for you, and for your organization, and for your department and your teams, right? And start building a plan from that, but whatever you do, just start. That’s the most important one.
[23:33] So silly, see I told you they weren’t bold. It just simple language, man. It makes you comfortable.
Jim: [23:39] Yeah.
James: [23:39] I can start, right? Like if I sum all three of those up in one, I need you to start. I need you to tell everybody about it, OK? And I need you to take it chunk by chunk so that you can actually complete it. Bold.
Jim: [23:55] And then, second one…Right, bold…
James: [23:57] Bold.
Jim: [23:57] and when you say it out to people, when people can be doing this junction like you and I doing this together or people out at companies, you know, they have a buddy.
James: [24:05] Yeah.
Jim: [24:05] You know that they bounce things back [inaudible] , “How’s your week going?” You know, you hold me accountable.
James: [24:09] Yeah.
Jim: [24:09] You set that time to go walking out while I didn’t do that.
James: [24:14] Uh‑huh. Yeah. Jim…
Jim: [24:14] You know, where’s first things first?
James: [24:17] Yeah.
Jim: [24:18] James, I feel inspired after sitting with you this morning. I am [inaudible] …
James: [24:24] You set, you set a really high bar when you introed me like I was some professor at Harvard about seven habits. When really, I was told I needed to read this book one time. I read it. My eyes opened. I have been blessed to teach it a few times. I’m teaching it next week actually some more, but…
Jim: [24:45] Yeah.
James: [24:45] hopefully I lived up to the hype, no?
Jim: [24:49] Well…
James: [24:49] Jimmy’s my hype man, my Flavor Flav.
Jim: [24:54] I think you did, brother. You know, you did and, and reaching out to the audience right now, as you can see, James has an incredible passion for this. And during this Thanksgiving time, we hope that you have a few minutes to view this, to take it in, you know, to talk about it with a family member, with a co‑worker.
[25:14] Again, we in the energy business, this is a lot of folks are working this holiday week. We never end, 365, 24/7.
James: [25:20] Mm‑hmm.
Jim: [25:22] We give you folks a lot of praise. Please stay safe out there for all those that are working. But yeah, do, do take one little bit and try it and it’ll change. Also, Thanksgiving week, we want to give also a special thought‑out‑, shout‑out from James and I to all those that are serving in the military, we thank you. You know, God bless you. God bless our country.
[25:48] We appreciate all you do for us. James, I think that that, you know, just anything else you want to add before I wrap it up?
James: [25:59] Yeah, I think, I think you hit it, Jimmy, and I, I want to thank everybody so far who’s been on this ride with us, but I wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving. I know this year’s been hard and I just pray.
Jim: [26:12] Oh, yeah.
James: [26:12] Pray that each of you are able to enjoy this holiday and whatever that might look like for you and you’re so…I’m, I’m glad you’re sharing it. If you’re watching this and that makes you’re sharing Thanksgiving with us.
Jim: [26:26] Yeah, absolutely, and we couldn’t be more proud and happier that we could hear a little bit and hopefully make your life just a little bit better, because a little bit better can go a long way.
[26:37] Until the next episode of Coffee with Jim and James, James and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving weeks. Stay safe, everybody, and as I would say, don’t eat too much. Watch those calories. So, until next time, take care, stay safe, and God bless you and God bless our country.