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Some “year-begin” thoughts: Discipline and daydreams are not mutually exclusive

I’m sure that many of you, like me, are trying to figure out WHICH of the 10 or so New Year’s resolutions would not only be the most useful for you to pursue but are actually within the realm of possibility to pull off. You don’t EVEN want to know what’s going on inside my head right now, but might I suggest two mantras we should all choose to live by as we look ahead. (Who really wants to look back at 2008, let’s be done with this year already!)

Be Disciplined
It takes a lot of willpower to get up, go to the office (or at least your desk) and actually accomplish what you’ve planned to accomplish for the day. If you’re anything like me, all thoughts of YOUR priorities vanish quickly the second you put your hands on the phone or keyboard, as you respond to “urgent” e-mails, disgruntled employees, irate customers and the like.

I’m not suggesting you ignore emergencies or jump on opportunities that present themselves randomly, but if you spend five minutes every morning or evening or whenever reacquainting yourself with your company’s core values and goals, the way you should prioritize your reactive behavior will become clearer. Plus it will help you reinforce them with your team: How can you expect your employees to know what’s important, if EVERYTHING is an emergency.

Discipline applies to the following day-to-day dilemmas:

  • Don’t engage with a customer whose sole interest is price, no matter how attractive that revenue might seem.
  • Don’t allow your vendor’s “brand” to become bigger than your own. Remember to express your own value, succinctly.
  • DO take advantage of all the tools in your own arsenal. Now, more than ever, software as a service and managed services can be real advantages in the day-to-day operations of an IT solution provider. Have you taken advantage of all the technology tools at your disposal?

While you’re at it, remember to leave room in your life for a little daydreaming.

Having discipline means knowing when a current strategy should be changed or evolved, but unless you and your team spend some structured time operating outside your comfort zone, you’ll have no idea what direction you should follow. My all-time favorite example of this are the “think weeks” that Microsoft founder Bill Gates used to plan every year. He would clear his calendar, load up with eclectic books about business and scientific trends, proposals from Microsoft team members, and immerse himself in ideas inside and outside of technology. Here’s his own description of the process, which I’ll bet he now applies to his foundation work.

The point being, it’s entirely healthy to put out the “Do not disturb” sign, look out the window and open your mind.

Wishing you a healthy, prosperous Happy New Year, full of both discipline and day dreams.

Heather Clancy, a high-tech business journalist and industry analyst, can be reached at

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