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Chapter OneOne day as the One Minute Manager stood looking out his office window down onto the traffic, he found himself focused on the mail truck and the two people gathering up the letters and packages to be delivered. He thought to himself, "That would be an ideal job to have. All you have to do is pick up the mail in the morning and then deliver it to its appropriate destination. At the end of the day, you return to the post office with outgoing mail and then you are free to go home without a care in the world, until the next morning."
Now the One Minute Manager knew that mail delivery was more complicated than that, but seeing the truck ignited his yearning for simplicity in his life. Everything seemed to be out of whack lately. He had done so well in turning his last operation from a dying enterprise into an exciting, profitable venture that he had been given a larger company to tackle. Always striving to be the best, the One Minute Manager had jumped into his new job with both feet. "And believe me," he thought to himself, "this operation needed help."
The last manager had a style of "ready, fire, blame." As a result, people felt demoralized. They were continually being yelled at for not doing what they didn't know they were supposed to do in the first place. The One Minute Manager knew that before you could catch people doing things right and praise them, they had to have clear goals. So he had started a company wide goal-setting program.
These initial demands of turning around a bad situation were time consuming enough. But add the outside demands on his time to speak and give advice to others because of his popularity as a manager and suddenly twenty-four hours was not a long enough day for the One Minute Manager.
While all these opportunities were exciting, lately the One Minute Manager found himself losing energy and feeling more tired than ever before. He had even become irritable at home. In fact, his wife had said to him yesterday: If you don't watch out, success could kill you!"
As he thought about the possible truth in that statement, the One Minute Manager's attention was interrupted by his intercom.
"There's a professor from the university on the phone," said his secretary. "He says it's important that he talk to you."
"He wouldn't say," said his secretary, "but he said something about you 'needing him.'"
"Needing him?" echoed the One Minute Manager. Curious, he picked up the phone. "Can I help you?"
"You probably can," said the professor, "but I think I can help you even more."
"That might be true," said the One Minute Manager, a little taken aback, "but what I don't need right now is another good opportunity."
"I know that," said the professor. "That's why I called."
"Who are you?"
"I'm the director of the Health Management Research Center," said the professor. "I'd like to share some information that I think could be useful to you. Do you have any time this week?"
"I used to answer that kind of question by saying 'anytime this week,' but I can't say that anymore. In fact, my time this week is completely taken. Next week I'm scheduled to be out of town for three days. This just isn't a good time for me to take on any new ideas or projects."
"I'm sorry to hear that," said the professor, "but I also know that forcing someone to look at his or her lifestyle doesn't work either. Why don't I call you in a couple of weeks?"
"That's fine," said the One Minute Manager. "Perhaps things will be less hectic then."
For the next ten days, the One Minute Manager forgot all about the professor's call, until the next Saturday night.
The One Minute Manager and his wife went to bed about midnight after playing bridge with some friends.About 3:30 he woke up with a real pain in his chest and a lot of gas.He got up, went to the bathroom, and walked around, but it didn't seem to help."It's probably just something I ate,"rationalized the One Minute Manager.It annoyed him, though, that one if the first things he though about was the professor's call and Charlie's death.Charlie was one of their best friends, who had died suddenly last summer at age forty-two, shocking everyone.Just as he was trying to get all this out of his mind, Alice woke up.
"What's going on?" she said.
"Are you telling me you just like to walk around at three-thirty in the morning?I've lived with you too long to believe that.Come clean."
"I just have some indigestion."
"It hurts a little here," said the One Minute Manager, pointing toward the center of his chest.
"That'sa funny place for indigestion.Just sit down on the bed a moment.I want to talk with you."
"I don't want a lecture right not on my health and lifestyle."
"I'm not going to do that," said Alice."I just want you to do me a favor."
"What is it?" said the One Minute Manager as he sat down.
"Honey, I was reading the other day that it takes on the average six hours after the first symptom before most heart attack victims get some medical help.Unfortunately, about fifty percent have done irreparable damage by then if they are not already dead.What I'd like us to do is just ride over to the emergency room and let them check you out. If it's only indigestion we'll be home and back in bed in forty-five minutes."
"That's silly," said the One Minute Manager. "I'm not having a heart attack!"
"I know it's silly.That's why I said I wanted you to do me a favor.It's just for me, not you.OK?"
Not wanting his wife to know he was getting a little concerned too, the One Minute Manager said, "If you put it like that, OK, but I'm only doing it for you."
"I appreciate that," said Alice."Consider that I owe you one."
"You know I have a memory like an elephant," smiled the One Minute Manager.
When they got over to the emergency room at the nearby hospital, it was very quiet so the One Minute Manager was ushered in without much delay.