HOUSTON WOMAN: In your new book, 86,400: Manage Your Purpose to Make Every Second of Each Day Count, you advocate ‘purpose management.’ How is that different from time management? The benefit?
LAVAILLE LAVETTE: With time management the majority of your actions are dictated by time. With purpose management you no longer manage time… you use time, because your actions are determined by what moves you towards and what keeps you in a constant state of fulfilling your purpose. Purpose management challenges you to use those precious 86,400 seconds you are given each day in a way that engages you in activities that are relevant to fulfilling your purpose and eliminating tasks that aren’t. When you incorporate the principles of ‘86400 Purpose Management’ you will live your passion, achieve your goals, and become all you were ordained to be.
HW: When did you realize your life needed more balance?
LAVETTE: When I found myself going from one empty success to another. Realizing my life was out of balance was not an instant discovery. My biggest hindrance to discovering a better way to balance my life was all my time management experience. I am a recovering time-management addict, the worst kind. In fact, not only was I hooked on “to-do” lists, planners and other such tools, I was a dealer, as well — one who was paid handsomely to conduct workshops and seminars for those wanting skills to cram 36 hours of activity into a 24-hour day.
HW: In your book, you talk about the importance of not saying you don’t have enough time. You write about people known for their great contributions to society, such as Louis Pasteur and Albert Einstein, and then say our 86,400 seconds have the same amount of potential as theirs? Can you explain this concept and how it relates to all of us?
LAVETTE: Yes, I talk about Pasteur and Einstein. I could have added Oprah, President Obama, Peyton Manning, Bill Gates, Steve Harvey and others. They maximize the time they engage in activities that reflect their passions and their purpose. They live on purpose. Our seconds are as valuable as theirs, and we have the same ability to make a difference and be the difference. What is needed is the development of what I call an 86400 Mind-Set — a conscious state or attitude that frames how you approach each day. When you develop an 86400 Mind-Set your mind will direct you toward purpose-filled, rather than activity-filled actions. This mind-set makes your purpose the foundation out of which everything else evolves — your goals, your schedules and your actions.
HW: How is time management like a fad diet? How can one break out of the cycle?
LAVETTE: When I was doing training in time management, some methods helped me to pack more into my day. Other techniques helped me keep track of all I had packed into my day. These tools even gave me a temporary sense of accomplishment, especially when I could mark off my list the things I was able to finish. But, as time passed, I would go back to my old habit of spending too little time on things that were important and too much time on things that weren’t? Treating time management as if it were the grapefruit diet never helped me achieve my ideal life. And time-management fads will not maximize my time and fulfill my purpose. Only when I was able to make a change in my eating habits that was natural and sustainable was I able to achieve my weight goal. The same approach helped me maximize my daily 86400 seconds. I found it hard to be fulfilled crossing tasks off a checklist or going about my day as if I was the character Jack Bauer from the TV program, “24,” always racing against time, beholden to what I had to get done before the clock ticked down to zero.Managing career, family and community responsibilities was overwhelming for me. Just as I had a breakthrough with my diet, I had a breakthrough several years ago with how I spent my 86400s, my days. I was able to weave together a life overflowing with intention and relevance. It was natural and sustainable. My life ultimately made sense as I began to make the most of my 86400s. What broke the cycle for me — and what will break the cycle for others — is not letting the time, the days, the seconds, be the main focus. Ask: Is this next action in line with my purpose?
HW: You offer 10 tools to use in implementing purpose management. Can you share a few of those principles with us?
LAVETTE: The transition from time management to incorporating the 10 purpose characteristics in my life put me in a place mentally, emotionally and spiritually where I could see success. Incorporating the characteristics of forgiveness, wisdom, dedication, balance, imagination, thankfulness, patience, faithfulness, generosity and courage into your daily 86400 will challenge you to look at your life from a down-and-dirty, real-deal, front-row seat.The purpose values will minister to you daily, keeping you in line and on track. However, these values are merely hollow concepts if they are not placed in conversation with the things that affect your life in deep and profound ways; the past we carry, the present we live, the future we seek and the life we’re intended to lead. In the 86400 book, I outline the meaning and effective incorporation of each purpose characteristic in your day.
HW: You’ve had a very diverse career — from special advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige to being a radio host and author. How does purpose management keep going in the right direction?
LAVETTE: Simply put, the 86400 purpose management concept has allowed me to stop the merry-go-round and get off! It’s more than a catch phrase to me; it’s a way of life. It has helped me to develop a laser-like focus on living each moment on purpose, which has paid personal dividends and motivated me to develop tools to help others to manage their precious 86400. I’m still a multi-careered, skateboard riding, 40-something southern girl, but my projects have a common denominator, They ooze of my purpose and passion as an educator seeking to change lives for the better. Free of my former dead-end addiction to activity, all of my actions grow exponentially in their power and impact.
HW: Much has been said about purpose. What does your book offer that is new?
LAVETTE: This book is an instigator for making the most of your time, your 86400 seconds each day. It will help you see life as a daily gift of 86400 seconds, so that you can achieve real power, purpose and productivity.