MWA3P; my October Action Cycle

I am rereading Stephen Covey’s First Things First. This is one of the blurbs in the front matter of the book:

“I hate time management systems. Do lists, day planners, and breathing-by-objective systems give me the hives.

But I love First Things First — Covey and the Merrills’ approach to making your life meaningful and successful on purpose. The subtitle tells it all, ‘To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy.’ That’s making your life work instead of making work your life. Super!”
— Ron Zemke, coauthor of Service America and Sustaining Knock Your Socks Off Service

I agree and disagree with Mr. Zemke. I agree in that I too love First Things First, and reading it again has been a sort of homecoming for me. I disagree (slightly) in that I’ve never hated time management systems, I’ve been captivated by them.

Much as I like to explain that ‘time management’ is a kind of misnomer, I’ve always been fascinated with the organization and systems part of the concept, and I’ve sunk a small fortune (and BIG amounts of time) into playing and experimenting with every planner to catch my fancy. Paper, digital, cosmically star-aligned ” you name it: I’ve probably tried it or at least checked it out enough to consider myself an unofficial, self-proclaimed expert on them (whatever ‘expert’ means.)

The reason my fascinated continued? I’m still looking for one that works.

That ‘slightly’ part in my disagreement with Mr. Zemke, is because there is a part of time management systems I have always hated. I hate the way they wreak havoc on the otherwise sensible thought processes of good managers. We can get aimlessly lost in time management efforts with all kinds of stuff, versus what we should be concentrating on; spending more time with the people we manage. Read ‘personal productivity’ as effectiveness, ‘cause that’s what it is. That’s what it should be.

I’ve come close to finding good systems. Up to now, the closest I’d come to one was getting completely immersed in Stephen Covey’s with the 7 Habits, then Principle Centered Leadership, and then First Things First, which the Covey Leadership Center had all rolled together in a time management certification program they had called What Matters Most.

This was in the pre-Franklin days, when Covey was just Covey and not Franklin-Covey.

I sure am dating myself here, aren’t I. Maybe expert means around-the-block and back again.

You should have seen my system. The day planner, the leather zipped binder, the plastic zipped sleeves, the fancy templates, the archive boxes ” I was the Covey Leadership Center poster child.

Then came Microsoft Outlook. I went digitally ballistic. Add the Palm and it’s docking station to the paraphernalia. We’ll just leave it at that or this post will turn into a novella.

Then thankfully, I came into my own as a manager, meaning I was working my own system for a change. I returned to the safe harbor in the storm: my values-centered management practice, and Managing with Aloha was the wonderful result. My editor calls it my “Hawaiian sensibility for work” and I love the phrase, especially when you come to understand that the Hawaiian part of it really means culturally suitable; the values are universal.

Since then, I have coached a lot of managers in personal productivity practices that have been this pretty tasty stone soup of Covey’s What Matters Most and my Managing with Aloha, spiced up with the digital salt and pepper of Microsoft Outlook. Time and time again I’ve found that when you really start cooking with MWA, it can create more frustration for you if your day-to-day work practice is a mess. Your own value system kicks in, and you understand MWA quickly, you believe in it and you want it in no time at all, but you can’t serve it up until you clear the table. And well, the table’s a mess (that’s why you zone out in front of the TV now when you eat your meals.)

So that’s why I do a lot of coaching with personal productivity practices hand in hand with the value sensibility for work of Managing with Aloha.

And I’ve been doing very well with it. The managers I’ve coached are doing far better than they were before. But as we’ve spoken of so often here in our learning community, we can always learn more and get better with our own reinventions, can’t we. That’s where David Allen and GTD comes in. I was late to the game, but now I’m playing first string. For the last four months Mr. Allen’s got me hooked, and it’s been great.

Back in early June, this was the equation I’d impulsively posted here on Talking Story:
GTD + 7 Habits + MWA = MWA3P. Rather than repeat them here, I’ll refer you back to that post for my early thoughts on why there was such a strong Covey — Allen — MWA connection that was so obvious to me. I launched an email coaching project to further explore my thoughts on it, and 47 people signed up for it: they’ve received 11 email campaigns from me since then. It’s time to bring the project to a close and that’s what my October Action Cycle is all about.

Today, MWA3P has become the handy name for the third evolution of my coaching managers in better personal productivity practices. Technically there’s even a MWA3P „¢ now. MWA3P has been newly defined as the 3 productivity components in Managing with Aloha:

  1. Values-centered MWA and managing people well in the first place
  2. Creating good habits (from timeless principle-centered leadership) within the MWA values philosophy and strength/talent sensibility
  3. Methodology I am newly learning (from my own practice of GTD) on the practical how-to which makes the first two things work most effectively.

To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy. That really is a sweet thought, isn’t it? More than a sweet thought, the way it’s supposed to be. Part evolution, part reinvention. Delicious stone soup.

Very, very exciting stuff. I have already sold a few programs in early 2006 on my new and improved MWA3P „¢ curriculum. People want it now, but it’s got to be just right, and January 2006 is the target date I’ve set; it’s the perfect timing for the living and loving of my own life. November and December are for the holidays. Just as Mr. Zemke said, “That’s making your life work instead of making work your life.”

That’s the MWA3P story I promised I’d tell you about today. The final pieces get put into place this month; they are my October Action Cycle in our October Ho‘ohana, Sweet Closure. October 30, here we come. Fun stuff. Isn’t this great?

More all month long.

Let’s Talk Story.

Related posts:

Why GTD reminds me of the 7 Habits.

GTD + 7 Habits + MWA = MWA3P.

October Ho‘ohana: Sweet Closure.

The MWA3P Category Index.

10/04/05 Update: The MWA3P Project subscriptions are no longer available. However you can still access the information and conversations we’ve had here on Talking Story about MWA3P by clicking on that category link.


  1. says

    Rosa, one could have lots of fun with “Delicious stone soup”. It is one of my favorite stories and certainly open to many versions and variations on the theme.
    I hope your MWA3P is not that kind of soup, you know the kind, it has a little of everything to keep everyone happy. I trust that you’ll have the proper mix of ingredients (the equation you outline has the right variables) to make it a great one.
    Not too bitter, not too sweet, enough sustenance for the long run. Like it or not, we are all in it for the long haul, or at least as long as we are allowed to haul.

  2. says

    Aloha Steve, perhaps my stone soup analogy wasn’t a perfectly fitting one, for MWA3P is definitely a concoction that is much more discerning and picky as to what goes in it. And clearly, when it comes to a personal productivity system, what you deliberately leave out is just as critical a choice as what stays in.
    It IS a wonderful story though, isn’t it? For those of you wondering about the complete story of Stone Soup, here’s a link:

  3. says

    Coincidently, Mark Hurst is introducing his version of the To Do list for the bit litterate. Mark is user experience focused so I just submitted a request to join the pre-production view of this tool. I expect it will be good. If you or anyone else in the Ho‘ohana Online Community are interested chack out his blog entry:
    It may indeed be the great experience application for To Do lists!