I draw on the work of management philosopher Peter Drucker, who believed that a healthy society rested on good management. Moreover, he understood that managing oneself was the first and most essential management challenge. After all, we can’t manage anything well without first managing ourselves.
I see life as an ongoing series of moments. How present we are for these moments determines our quality of life and the quality of our results. When we are scattered, inattentive and unfocused, daily life becomes stressed and frenetic. In the midst of a multitasking frenzy we easily fall prey to reactive emotions and misguided actions that lead to unwanted and wasteful personal and professional results. When we live with greater attention and presence we act more deliberately, prudently, and effectively. Life starts to work as it should. In short, we find peace amidst the chaos.
The approach I take starts with understanding the biology of our bodies. To manage ourselves, we have to first manage our nervous systems. The human nervous system is programmed to protect us—to flee danger, to fight an attacker or to freeze in the face a hostile force. When this system becomes unbalanced, we get stuck. We act in ways that don’t seem rational, that undermine healthy relating and damage our well-being. When we occupy leadership positions, this kind of mismanagement destructively cascades out through the organization. More skillfully regulating the nervous system leads to calmer, wiser and more productive action. We do not act out of misplaced fear and aggression.
Unfortunately, few of us ever learn how to skillfully manage the forces that exist inside us all. Our parents and schools didn’t teach us. There were no standardized tests for self-management either. To fill this gap, I take an approach to the challenge of managing oneself that leads to positive change and practical action.
Fundamentally, I am deeply concerned with quality of life and what it means to live well—at work, at home, and with each other. Quality of life is more than just a full bank account, a nice ride, and a home full of objects. To me, quality of life means expressing the possibilities of our greatness—engaging in meaningful livelihoods, living an ecologically generative way, enjoying loving and resilient relationships, making positive contributions to society, and experiencing beauty, humor and joy even in difficult times.