Are you limiting your potential?
"I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent." Dwight D. Eisenhower
As we advance in our careers and assume greater responsibility, there is an increased demand for our time - we have more one-on-ones, more meetings, more business areas to stay on top of and more relationships to manage. With all these responsibilities competing for our time, energy and attention, the most successful leaders develop and fine-tune the skills required to enable them to focus on what is most important - for their business, for their team and for themselves. Those who fail to develop these skills appear to be in a constant state of busy, unable to pause for fear of falling even further behind. They become prone to anxiety, stress and eventually burn-out.
In my experience as a leader and as a leadership coach, those who experience the greatest success in attaining their desired outcomes develop these 3 critical skills: Curiosity, Courage and Commitment. This same framework is also a useful way of looking at how the most effective leaders master their time.
Curiosity. Curiosity requires you to look at what you are currently doing, where you want to be, what is supporting you in moving forward and what is holding you back.
Courage. Courage requires you to let go of what is easy and comfortable and to step into new mindsets and actions to create the opportunity for learning and growth.
Commitment. Commitment requires you to actually show-up to do the work required to move forward and to learn from successes and to overcome failures.
Let’s dive in.
My personal favourite exercise is Scott Eblin’s - Pick-up/Let Go Exercise. It starts with asking yourself - What is it only I can do given my position?
This question shifts your focus from what you are currently doing to what you need to be doing to enable you and your team to achieve your objectives.
The next step is to take a look at the future.
It’s 1 year from now and you have exceeded all your goals - what headlines are your writing?
Make them fun and inspiring. If you use OKRs, V2MOMs or similar organizational goal-setting tools, perhaps you already have these for your company and business unit.
Finally, in order to achieve those headlines, Eblin suggests following a variation of 80/20 rule, by asking you to reflect on - “What are the 20% of things you need to be spending 80% of your time and energy on if you are going to realize these headlines?” With a coach as partner, you can go deeper and explore the mindsets, behaviours and attitudes that support and derail your efforts.
Try it for yourself:
What opportunities did you identify? What will be required of you and what support will you need?
Now that you have identified your most impactful work, it’s time to create the space to bring this plan to reality by empowering and supporting your team and learning how to say “no” or “not now”. Enter your Inner Critic to tell you all the reasons why you can’t or that your plan is ill-advised.
It’s faster if I do it myself
I can do it better
I enjoy doing this work.
I am good at it. This is what makes be valuable.
My team is too busy
My team may do it wrong and I’ll be left to clean up/get blamed
Effectively delegating and learning to say no takes courage.
Develop the skills to delegate effectively:
Learn how to say no or not now:
Last but not least, forming new habits, behaviours and mindsets takes commitment. Here are some exercises to help you plan, act and reflect on your actions.
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People makes use of four different quadrants that allow you to prioritize tasks in relation to their importance and urgency, helping you to decide whether you need to address a task immediately or if you can postpone it.
From Brian Tracey’s book, Eat That Frog, "If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long." Your frogs each day are the tasks that will have the greatest impact on achieving your goals, and the tasks that you are most likely to procrastinate starting.
End of Day Reflection
What are you most proud of? What helped you? What obstacles did you need to overcome? What skills and strengths did you use?
What got in your way? What would you try differently next time? What development opportunity are you now aware of?
If the thought of taking a vacation brings a nightmarish image of what you may return to, you may want to take a look at how you are developing your team. Ask yourself:
What worries me the most about being away from the office?
What prevents me from delegating and giving ownership to someone on my team?
What is required of me to build trust, capacity & ownership in my team?
Reach Your Peak was born out of my vision to work alongside leaders who thrive and not just survive. As a coach, I am often asked to suggest pieces of thought leadership and tools to support my client’s movement towards their goals. The purpose of this newsletter is to offer this content to a wider audience interested in expanding their learning edge.
I hope you enjoyed "The Real Cost of Busy?"
Want more? Subscribe to Reach Your Peak.