One of my first mentors was an incredible man named John Bisagno. He was bigger than life to me. I was green and inexperienced and he was in the prime of his life. John was sitting at the top of a huge organization. He was respected around the world for his leadership. He was the most gifted orator I had ever heard. To say I was in awe of him is a serious understatement. I studied every public move he made. I wanted to be just like him. And amazingly, when we met he saw something in my young, hungry heart that reminded him of what he was like 30 years before. To my amazement, he invited me into his world and he became my mentor.
While spending time with John one day, he asked me what I did when the phone rang at my house. (For my young readers, we all used to have only one phone and it was attached to a wall in our house). I thought it was a silly question, but I told him I answered it. He said but what if you were working on something else? I told him I would still answer it. He replied to me that I needed to get a different perspective. He said, “You pay for the phone. You get to decide if you want to answer it at the moment it rings or not.” He went to on to say the most successful people he knew set their agenda of what they wanted to accomplish in a given day. In their agenda, they set aside time to return calls. He was clear, “Every person is important and you should return a call within 24 hours.” But, he went on to say if you think you have to jump when they say jump, then they are in control of your life. “You have to be responsible for your schedule. Obviously there are times when schedules need to be changed. Emergencies do happen. But as a general rule most days need to be governed by the predetermined tasks that need to be accomplished.”
It has been 35 years since that conversation. I learned so many things from him. He was the perfect mentor at the perfect time in my life. But that one lesson never stuck. I have tried my whole life to be available at anyone’s beck and call. That has been a mistake. I look back and realize how smart he was. I wish I had adopted his philosophy on owning my calendar sooner. It’s a new week. I think it is about time to put John’s 35 year old message into practice. Schedule what you need to accomplish. Pencil in a block of time to return phone calls and check Facebook. Stop letting the phone pull you away from what you decided needed to be accomplished today. It’s your life. Be in control. Set the agenda. Work the plan. Stop letting the interruptions steal what you need to do to live your big life.