In answering his history final at university, a colleague of mine was presented with the question as follows:
Explain the influence of Karl Marx and your understanding of his theories.
My colleague, who had clearly made no preparation for this paper considered the question and committed to his answer with his full and unadulterated knowledge, he wrote thus:
Karl Marx…was a Marxist….indeed he was.
and left the room.
I think there are two important lessons here which can definitely be adapted to the work place. The first shows the self admitted naivety of my colleague at that time, and the second perhaps the sheer genius of simplicity.
And so to the first point. What did he fail to do – well clearly he was massively underprepared for the task ahead which of course cannot be underestimated. Even someone who was not a historian would have been able to put forward a more expansive response than the eight words mustered up for the question above. In fact the question was longer than the answer. To gain the advantage when preparing for a meeting or even a simple task in the work place you should first make sure you are aware of as many, if not all of the facts in question. That way you are prepared not only for the questions you have thought of but also for at least some of the ones that have not occurred to you. Secondly you have the option in the work place to potentially reschedule. Most colleagues would be prepared to give you a least some time to get to grips with a project particularly if it is complicated. Also use your diary to good effect. Don’t just schedule in the meetings that you have planned but book in the time to prepare for them and do not let other tasks creep into their place. You will ultimately feel better prepared for your tasks, and perhaps reduce the amount of stress that you put yourself under. Did you ever stop to think about how much workplace stress is self inflicted by poor planning on your part (if you are someone who has not prepared or procrastinate as I am prone to do then this is almost a given that you have not!). The lesson I learned here is, give yourself a break and prepare well, hopefully it will help you lead a life less stressful.
The second lesson I learned will appear in the next blog posting – thanks for viewing.