By Frank Tibolt
Excerpt from A Touch of Greatness
Ivy Lee used to be a consultant in New York City. Hs regular clients were Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, the Du Ponts and other big shots.
One day Charlie Schwab of the Bethlehem Steel Co. asked Lee about his services. Lee outlined them briefly ending with the statement, "With our services you'll know how to manage better.”
"HELL!" shouted Schwab. "I'm not managing as well now as I know how. What we need around here is not more "knowing" but more "doing" …not more knowledge, but more action. If you can only show us how to do half the things we already know we ought to do ...show us how to "GET THINGS DONE" ...I'll gladly engage your services at any price."
"You're on," answered Lee. "I can give you a lesson in 20 minutes that will help you get more done tomorrow." "O.K." agreed Schwab. "I have just about 20 minutes before train time. What's your idea?"
Lee pulled out a 3 x 5 filing card, handed it to Schwab and told him. "Spend 10 minutes every evening before retiring reviewing the day's work. Ask yourself, "What did I forget, neglect or foul up? What specific steps can I take to prevent these foul ups in the future? What can I do to improve on today's work? Then spend 5 more minutes writing on this card the six things you need most to get done tomorrow." That took 8 minutes. "Now," said Lee, "Number them in the order of their importance." Three more minutes passed.
"Next," said Lee, "Put this card in your pocket and the first thing tomorrow morning, look at item 1 and start working on it. Look at item 1 every hour on the hour until you've finished it. Then tackle No. 2 the same way. Then No. 3. Do this until quitting time. As you finish each task, cross it off."
"Don't be concerned if you've only finished two or three, or even if you haven't finished No. 1. You'll be working on the most important. The rest can wait. If you can't finish all with this method, you can't with any other method either, and without this method, you'd probably never even decide which are most important."
"Before making up your next day's list transfer all your unfinished items to it. Spend the last 5 minutes every day making up a "must list" of the next day's most urgent tasks. After you've tried this method, have your key employees try it. Test it for as long as you like, and Len send me a check for what you think it's worth. Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000 saying:
"This innocent looking little lesson is the most practical lesson I ever learned in all my life. It motivated me to make a phone call I had put off 9 months. That phone call brought me an order for steel beams that netted me 2 million dollars. I explained this humble lesson to all my executives. That did more to make the Bethlehem Steel Co. the world's largest independent steel producer, than all the meetings I held with my high-salaried executives."
Schwab learned, like most great men learn, that the simplest ideas are often the greatest in getting results. This plain little lesson is so plain looking and so plain sounding that many average people won't even try it. It's so plain that its results are almost unbelievable. But it has turned more little shots into BIG SHOTS than any "secret of success," or any high priced "motivation courses". It tops all methods of turning "ordinary" fellows into "extraordinary" producers.
If you think I'm claiming too much for this humble little lesson, let's look at what bigger and wiser men have said about it.
Walter Chrysler said, "I never started producing until I engaged a taskmaster ...a written list of things to be done every day."
Henry Ford said, "No executive is worthy of the name unless he works to a written schedule."
Henry Kaiser wouldn't hire a senior executive who didn't have the HABIT of scheduling his tasks in WRITING. Ditto Thomas Watson and Lord Northcliffe.
Both Dr. Charles and Dr. William Mayo of the Mayo Clinic ended their day's work with WRITTEN lists for the next day's work. Ditto Clifford Holland of Holland Tunnel Fame, Fred Ecker, president of Metropolitan Life daily uses a pad which he heads, "to be done today."
Thousands of other big men in business, industry, banking, education, selling, and other fields, have placed this method at the top of the list of "habits that make for success".
You'll find big producers everywhere, probably in your own company, use some adaptation of this method. For GETTING THINGS DONE, it beats all the fancy, high sounding, and high priced systems ever invented.
So let's get up your "must list" right away, while it's on your mind. It'll only take 5 minutes. And it might mark the turning point in your life as it did for many others. Since, in seeking success, the hardest part is always the start; a thing begun is more than half done.
Tomorrow buy yourself a dozen packs, a couple hundred cards. Use one every day for the rest of your life. No, that's not so difficult. You'll be surprised how quickly the habit will grow into an interesting game ...and the MOST PROFITABLE GAME YOU'LL EVER PLAY.
Would you like to hire a dynamic, super duper assistant who never forgets, to remind you, prod you, spur you, and nag you to GET YOUR TASKS DONE? A silent adviser who will draw and drive you day and night toward your chief goal in life? If you have no goal in life, it's later for you than you think. Better get one. Without one, you might continue to exist but real life will pass you by. You can hire this assistant for the price of a dozen packs of 3 x 5 cards.
PAPER NEVER FORGETS
If you want a sure fire reminder, WRITE IT DOWN ON PAPER.
If you want a manager to prod you out of your laziness, WRITE IT DOWN ON PAPER.
If you want to find yourself and your right career, WRITE IT DOWN ON PAPER.
If you want to solve a difficult problem, WRITE IT DOWN ON PAPER.
If you need a new idea, WRITE IT DOWN ON PAPER.
If you want to stick to a difficult task until you finish it, DITTO.
If you want to quit a bad habit, WRITE IT DOWN ON PAPER.
If you want to acquire a new habit or a new skill, WRITE IT DOWN ON PAPER.
If you want to become successful and rich, WRITE IT DOWN ON PAPER.
Paul Durinski, a former student said, "Writing down that statement about my goal changed my whole life. Before I wrote it down, it was just "some thoughts in my head".
Writing it down on paper changed it to something real, on fire, alive. My previous 15 years of merely thinking about it was time wasted. Writing it down on paper was like planting a seed in the ground. It grew. Believe me writing a thing down on paper works and HOW!"
Writing a thing down on paper signals the subconscious mind to work on it, to incubate, to gestate, to create... to realize the thing… to turn a wish into a fact. Why not hire this dynamic, loyal helper, your silent, invisible twin, as your 24-hour assistant? It will jog your memory, develop self-confidence, sustain ambition and enthusiasm, get things done, speed you ahead "years in months" — maybe make you rich, as it did others.