Saturday Blueprint on Directives

Take action on what you read by creating personal directives, or instructions, to follow.

Saturday Blueprint on Directives
Photo by Jamie Templeton / Unsplash

Hi 👋. Here is this week's Saturday Blueprint.

🤔 Quote I’m thinking about

A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to. — Gandalf

Being busy and hurrying around is a pretty typical state for me, but sometimes I like to try to disconnect from the stress and need to always rush.

These wise words of Gandalf are good ones to bear in mind. You are never late; you arrive precisely when you mean to. 😃

Makes me think of stressful situations when I’m running late - rushing back from the school run to work for example. I should instead remember these wise words, and not stress, not rush, not hurry, but accept that I will arrive when I arrive.

🏅 Leadership == People Development

Why do good people quit?

My hypothesis is that it is lack of personal development. It follows then that the art of leadership is to align an organisational need with a personal development want of the individual.

Let me explain my logic: for people, growth leads to a sense of purpose, meaning and ultimately happiness.

Happy people are motivated people. And motivated people are productive people.

Personal growth is an deeply intrinsic form of motivation. It is the beginning of a change in identity. An improvement in your own measure of self-value and self-worth.

It’s a win-win if you, as a leader, can align the personal quest of the individual with the quest of the organisation. Yes you can retain people with money or other extrinsic benefits. But these extrinsic forces don’t really align with our internal compass and purpose, and so there is always that niggle, that seed of discontent.

People really want to stay with an organisation when they have progressive opportunities to grow. Personal growth is a vote for an improvement in identity. That better version of ‘me’. Valued and engaged.

What do you think? What has made you quit a job in the past? Join the conversation on the Facebook page.

💡 Directives

I like to read personal development books, including books on Stoicism. And like a good practising engineer I take systematic notes on those books. I collect quotes, I highlight interesting stories and passages, I make my own notes on what I’ve read. I summarise and consolidate. I join the dots with other things I've read.

But sometimes I struggle to take action. I struggle to actually implement all the good things I’ve read and highlighted.

This is where directives comes in. The definition of a directive is:

Directive : An order or instruction, especially one issued by an authority

As per the definition, a directive is an order, an instruction. Something to just do, not ponder, or dither, but just get on with.

The best way to learn is with action. Directives give that explicit instruction. Condensing learning points to direct and immediate action. No thinking is needed.

I like directives that are of the form “do ___” or “don’t do ___”. I also like ones which combine both: “do ___, not ___”, or express an inequality / preference.

Examples of some of my favourite directives are:

  • Don't do invisible work
  • Don’t read the news
  • Don’t snack
  • Create don’t consume
  • Stay calm
  • Slow down and simplify
  • Act like a child
  • Want the process, not the outcome (or, process > goals)
  • Don't rush
  • Start now
  • Avoidance of unhappiness > the pursuit of happiness
  • Resourcefulness > resources
  • Guardrails > targets
  • Impact > income

These work for me because they are ones I’ve collated. I’ve had to take the step to distill something I’ve read into an action I can get behind so they are personal to me. This makes me more likely to actually take action. It also means that each directive is subtly aligned to a value of mine. It’s an action aligned to the general direction I want to go.

They also have maximum utility and minimal BS on account of being concise and direct. They are however stripped of all context, which can be limiting. But in this information age where the entire knowledge of the world is one Google search away I see the main problem is not too little information, but too much information and too little action.

The other benefit is that action leads to motivation, not the other way round. Just doing something is often enough to unblock a stagnant motivation. And momentum can start to build. Anything which can push you into action is a positive, as we shall also see next week on habits - another form of immediate action.

So to wrap up: directives are short, actionable, value-aligned orders to nudge you into motion.

To get started: as you read a book or listen to a podcast just start making a note of the key actionable takeaway that resonates with you.

💍 Cool finds

A quick list of things I've read or found this week that I want to share.

Peter Attia recommended a trio of three books on the theme of quality of life, and I've just started reading Four Thousand Weeks:

  • From Strength to Strength - Arthur Brooks
  • Four Thousand Weeks - Oliver Burkeman
  • Die With Zero - Bill Perkins

I've also recently started using Meta Business Suite - a free app to schedule and manage Facebook and Instagram posts.

It’s a pleasure writing to you. Have a great week. 😊

About the Saturday Blueprint

The Saturday Blueprint is a weekly newsletter every Saturday on health, vitality and philosophy by Nick Stevens.

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