Stop Being An "Obligation Magnet"....
From Patrick Wilkinson, Chairman of The Quarterly Compass
While I was working on getting my pilot's license in 1988 my flight instructor decided to "simulate" the phenomenon of the engine stopping from "carburetor ice." While we were in mid-flight in our little Cessna 150, he turned off the engine and asked me "what are you going to do now?" (There is nothing like learning from experience!) "Hurry up" he yelled, "we don't have much time." So I did the thing my instinct told me to do and I pulled back on the stick to keep our altitude up so we would not go plummeting to the ground.

"NO, YOU *#$%!*, are you trying to kill us?" he yelled with every curse word he could conjure up, while taking back control of the plane with his stick.

He loved to swear, and yell just to throw me off balance to see what I would do. But this time he was serious. My mistake could have cost us our lives if my instructor had not immediately stopped my "common sense" response to his test. The correct response would have been to gently point the nose of the airplane down to keep up speed so that the plane would continue to fly (planes only fly when they have "LIFT" created by forward air speed over and under the wings). This would also get us to a lower and warmer altitude where the carburetor ice could melt allowing us to re-start the engine.

Most people, including myself at the time, think pulling back on the stick is the "common sense" thing to do. However, in this case it was the one thing I could do that would get me killed the fastest. Again, sometimes doing the opposite of what SEEMS LIKE “common sense” IS the right thing to do.

This page is simply about what not to do when it comes to creating balance and control with regard to your time. Many of the things that most people think of as “common sense strategies” to gain success or balance are often times the WORST things you could possibly do! Here are SEVEN strategies that NEVER work.

1. Do not be an “Obligation Magnet!"
Now its time to get serious. An Obligation Magnet is a person who is good and who has a very hard time saying “no” to new obligations. It happens at home, at work, at the place of worship, and people even do it to themselves. We all do it because it is a “common sense strategy” to get involved, to help other people, or have them believe we care about them or others. Guilt plays a big role here too! But just because someone asks about something new doesn’t mean all of your other worthy obligations (centered around your Definate Major Purpose* in life) are suddenly unimportant. That is the key to feeling great about what I’m about to tell you!!!

     (SIDE NOTE: A "Definate Major Purpose" is your specific plan and purpose for doing everything you are doing in life. If you don't have one, you need to think deeply about this and read the book Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.)

Let’s face it; you have a huge number of obligations. But obligation without a true burning desire equals a big TRAIN WRECK in your life. To clean up a train wreck you need a lot of people, equipment, money and time. Train wrecks are also very difficult and dangerous to clean up. You will have a train wreck in your life if you have a lot of obligations, but you do not have a burning desire to complete every one of them. Do you agree with that?

So which would you rather have, “Balance” or “Train Wreck”?
Since I have personally been an Obligation Magnet, here’s how I dealt with my train wrecks:
1)     I took an inventory of all the things (aka: obligations) I was involved with and wrote them down (try that right now, you’ll be amazed at all of the obligations you have).
2)     I compared that list with my Definite Major Purpose and put an X next to the ones that were diluting my effectiveness in my Definite Major Purpose (aka: no burning desire)
3)     I started, one by one, to get rid of my obligations for which I had no burning desire.
4)     I made myself a promise that I would not say "yes" to ANYONE about any kind of new obligation before I had a chance to compare it to my Definite Major Purpose.
5)     I honed my skill of saying “no” in a kind and considerate way that goes like this:

Friend: “Patrick, will you be on the computer task force for the association?”
Patrick: “Well friend, thanks for asking, but right now I have quite a few obligations that I have already committed to that I really need to be effective at doing. So I will not be able to help you."
Friend: “This will only be an hour every few weeks”
Patrick: “I’m sorry but it will just not work with my calendar and my other obligations right now. But thanks for asking.”
Friend: “Well, I and the rest of the task force fit it in to OUR calendars.”
If it gets this far then they are asking for you to get personal, so get personal.
Patrick: “I don’t believe that you, or anyone, should presume to set my schedule for me, and quite frankly I am uncomfortable with the pressure you are putting on me. Thanks again for asking, but I simply will not be able to help you.”

You are in complete control of the obligations you say “yes” to, so stop being an “Obligation Magnet.” There is absolutely NO reason to feel guilt for not accepting someone else's new obligation, when you have so many you already must accomplish.

2. Do not have a negative mental attitude!
That sentence in itself has a double negative meaning, which should read, “Always, always, always have a positive mental attitude.” Not just the “common sense strategy” that most people think works called “positive thinking” (which is passive), but an overwhelmingly positive outlook on the possibilities that surround you every single day. A positive mental attitude combines faith and action into a potent mixture that creates a burning desire. This kind of desire cannot be dampened by failure! This is hard work and will force you to make difficult decisions about your attitude. A negative mental attitude will kill off opportunity quicker than your competition ever could.

3. Do not continue to make excuses!
If you say, “Well Patrick, the thing I am dealing with has no positive outcome in it,” then you will have an extremely difficult time gaining success. Remember the “Clarity Formula”? It only comes when you control your mind to focus on the specific positive outcomes you expect. There is always an equivalent benefit in any negative circumstance. Look for it! Quit making excuses. A huge percentage of the rest of the human race use excuses as their “common sense strategy” on how to get ahead. Excuses never work. Period.
4. Do not treat failure as the ending point in any situation! Read More in "Your Mindset"
John Maxwell, in his book Failing Forward, explains in vivid detail the blessings that flowed from failure experiences in the lives of scores of super-successful people. I discussed this in Your Mindset, but it is important to know that most people think that “calling it quits” or “cutting your losses” after a failure event is the “common sense strategy” to get ahead. The opposite, however, is true. Those who reach down inside them to push a little farther or pull a little harder are the ones who have outstanding success, and who have the disproportionate rewards in life. Failure is not the ending point. Thomas A. Edison stood by through 10,000 failed attempts to invent the light bulb.  Now if he had given up on attempt number 52 it may have been decades before the world had electric lights. This single invention has changed the lives of almost every human being on the planet for the better. I wonder if you have failed at something in the past that is a multi-billion dollar idea that could help all humanity. Think about it…

5. Do not blame other people!
If your motto is “PEOPLE ARE STUPID” or “IT IS ALL OTHER PEOPLE’S FAULT” then it is time to change your motto. How about this for a motto? “With all of these people around me making poor decisions, perhaps I could help them make better decisions, and at the same time help myself, be happier, and make a lot more income!” The fatally flawed “common sense strategy” that millions of people use every day is to focus the blame on the other person. If you don’t think you use this strategy answer the following test with a simple "yes" or "no".

When someone else brings up a problem they have with you, do you immediately search every quadrant of your brain for something, anything, that they have done wrong, and then bring that up before addressing their concern about you? YES or NO?

If you answered YES, which I am guessing you did, then you are using a  “common sense strategy” that never works. It is called “Unfair Tactics” and was taught to me by a pastor friend of mine. This strategy has been pounded into your brain as “right and proper” to use in arguments ever since you were a child. If you use this strategy you will have an extremely difficult time having phenomenal success, keeping friends, and having balance with your time.

To get out of this pattern, try listening to your critic and addressing the issue about yourself without bringing the critic’s behavior into it at all. Your critic may even be dead wrong about you, but you have still learned something. This will change your relationship with that person and it will change you. You may start to deal with your shortcomings in that relationship rather than "smoke-screening" them or "stiff-arming" them. (HINT: This is big with husbands and wives!)

6. Do not be haphazard in your plans for success!
You must be definite about your purpose in life. I once heard from speaker Brian Tracy that not having a goal is like "being a marksman in the fog." He went on to say
"You can be the best marksman in the world, but if you cannot see the target you’ll never hit it."  Many people use the “common sense strategy” that they are too disorganized to set goals, get a plan together, and follow it. That is not the case! Anyone can form a plan, get it down on paper, commit it to memory, repeat the purpose for the plan every day, and put it completely into action. Are you making your plan? If you have not, please go back and read The 7 Major Areas Of Life

7. Do not think you can do it on your own!
Are you a self-made man or woman? I believe there is no such thing! As you have witnessed on these pages, I believe the starting point for true success is the association with an accountability partner. There is no substitute for forming this relationship. No great achievement was ever completed alone. There are so many advantages to using the intelligence of others to skyrocket your potential exponentially. Here are just a few:

*Getting your deepest questions answered by another mind in harmony with yours
*Giving another mind your knowledge and answering his or her deepest questions
*Having another person holding your feet to the fire when you are trying to weasle out of a commitment
*Being involved with a person who is accomplishing great things
And last, but not the least, you will gain a close friend

If you want to know more about putting your mind into high gear by having an accountability partner, go to Why A Partner
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