For the past year I’ve been working my way through the Bible with a goal of finishing by the end of this year, and one of the books I’ve come to really enjoy reading is Proverbs. Over this past year I’ve read and reread the book a few times and now make it a daily habit to read one chapter each day.
Helpful suggestion: there are 31 chapters in Proverbs making it an easy book to link with each day of the month.
I recently started reading a book that outlines some of the secrets to success we can learn from King Solomon who wrote most of Proverbs. For those of you not familiar with King Solomon, he was arguably the richest and wisest man to ever live. When God asked Solomon what he wanted he didn’t ask for wealth, but instead asked for wisdom and knowledge (1 Kings 3:9, 2 Chronicles 1:10). Because he didn’t ask for riches, God not only gave Solomon great wisdom and knowledge, but also incredible wealth.
As I began to read the Proverbs of Solomon it became clear that the tips are quite universal and could be of value in becoming a successful Lean Six Sigma (LSS) professional. In this post I’ll share a few ideas on how you can learn from Solomon and work towards becoming more successful.
Do you see a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings.
If you are “diligent” people (kings) will want what you are diligent at doing. Solomon further defined diligent as being “pure” and “right”.
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it be right.
Determining what is “pure” comes down to spending your time well on those things that have a high return on investment (ROI), while “right” centers on doing those things to the highest level of quality and effectiveness.
Why is diligence important to success? There are a number of reasons. First, diligence leads to gain.
The plans of the diligent will surely lead to advantage.
Second, , having control of the situations we are in rather than the situations controlling us leads to advantage.
The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.
A third reason diligence is critical to success is that those who are diligent will have success and wealth that continually grows.
Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished but he that gathers by labor shall increase.
A final reason for diligence is that it will lead to becoming “profitable” as a LSS professional.
In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
What Solomon is describing is that if you are not doing well in an area of your life (lack of profitability) it’s probably because you haven’t spent enough time working on that area, in other words you are not diligent enough to become profitable.
Root causes to lack of diligence.
As LSS professionals you can guess what the next step in this process is-getting down to root causes for a lack of diligence. To better illustrate some of the causes, below you will see a cause-effect diagram outlining some of the major reasons for a lack of diligence.
Another word to describe diligence is laziness. We are all lazy to some degree, and recognizing the reasons for our laziness is the first step to becoming diligent. Self-centeredness is one reason we lack diligence. We lack focus on others and center only on ourselves, which leads to no surprise when others (the kings Solomon referred to in Proverbs 22:29) don’t seek us out to help them.
Arrogance is another cause to a lack of diligence because we think we know it all and need no help or advice from others. Ignorance and irresponsibility round out the top causes to a lack of diligence. We’re ignorant in that we don’t always understand the long term consequences of our actions and / or inactions. It’s much easier to be lazy than diligent! There’s also no question we often times are irresponsible in that we usually know what to do, but choose not to do it any way.
4 steps to increase diligence.
How can we eliminate and / or reduce the causes leading to a lack of diligence?
Step 1-stop procrastinating. We all have a tendency to procrastinate and put off what we know we should do. Exercise, eating right, balancing work and family time; we know what we should do, but we often fail to do it. There’s no simple formula or pill to eliminate procrastination, but what can provide the stimulus we need to minimize procrastination is setting a vision for success.
Step 2-create a vision for success. There’s no better fuel to minimize procrastination than a solid vision of success. Vision leads to action! I’m always amazed at how few people I encounter have a vision of success for their life. If you aim at nothing you’re bound to hit it!
Without a vision, the people perish.
Creating a vision is a process that begins with a dream. A dream can seem overwhelming at first, but once you start the process of breaking it down into a series of activities it begins to transform into doable steps. Dreams can be broken down into goals, which lead to steps to achieve the goals, and tasks that feed into the steps. With the steps outlined that lead to the goals all that is left is putting dates to complete them by.
Step 3-find an accountability partner / mentor. No plan is complete until you have someone to hold you accountable and help you become successful. None of us are smart enough to do it on our own (root cause arrogance). We need help from others in all that we do, and having someone to hold you accountable and guide you in the process will surely lead to greater diligence.
Step 4-continuously seek wisdom and knowledge. I’m probably preaching to the choir on this one, but it’s worth mentioning because so many LSS professionals I know fail to do this step. When was the last time you picked up a book to improve what you do or read a journal article or wrote about something you wanted to improve in doing? For many of us this doesn’t happen often enough, but without wisdom and knowledge how can we expect to improve?
So what to do next? Don’t procrastinate! Start by taking action today! Begin with building your vision of success and keep working it down into tasks you can start completing. What do you want to accomplish in the next year, three years from now, or even five years out. What can you do starting today to make your vision into a reality? Who can help you make your vision into a reality? Finally, what can you do to increase your wisdom and knowledge that will lead to greater diligence?