At lunch the other day, a friend of mine mentioned that he thinks he may be self-sabotaging his plan to delegate work to his employees. He secretly feels like he needs to be that busy doing “important” things or things that actually give him a surge of adrenalin.
First, I appreciate his insight and honesty.
Second, I think recognizing that there is much more going on than just an “I’m the best at this place” type of mentality.
Third, once you recognize it for what it is, you can become more objective about letting go of things, and this is where true freedom begins as a business owner.
I know the term, “agile” is quite en vogue at the moment, but I realized that it’s a great way to define decision making in my life.
Agile, in this context, just means making a decision or delivering something, then seeking feedback, improvements, and iterating on your initial idea.
I have a saying: “I’m making the best decision I can right now with the information I have.” That does a couple of things:
- It allows me to decide something rather than procrastinate.
- It reduces the pressure because I’m not making a decision that lasts forever.
- It gives me the basis for changing my mind later when I have more information.
It is important to realize that decisions do have long-range consequences, so make sure that your decisions align with your ethics and the goals you have for your life. (You do have personal and family goals, right?)
There are a bajillion blogs, articles, tweets, and ebooks telling you the best way to do things, and it’s a great way to attract people to your website. But, let’s face it, most of it is noise.
So, when you start writing helpful things on your website, make sure you give more than stock answers, give your evaluation, your opinion, your color. That’s how you’ll stand out from the crowd.
I’m so old that I actually knew of folks who carried 3×5 index cards in their pocket, and every time they thought of an idea for something, they’d write it down. Then, they’d file those cards, and occasionally review those ideas for anything worthwhile.
I’m a big believer in capturing every idea, but my weapon of choice is Evernote. I use it on my phone and on my MacBook. You can snap photos, scan documents, drag stuff from email, and do audio recordings. And all of it is easy to search, so I don’t have to think hard about where to file it.
The tool isn’t critical, but find some way to capture every idea you have. Trust me, you won’t remember half of them. And most of the time, they’re not great. But it’s worth it to capture that one really, really good idea.
My wife, Jenny, reminded me the other day that she had a professor at college that would say, “Inspect with you expect.” In other words, if you have set an expectation, make sure that you close the loop by having a way to keep an eye on it, report on it, and talk about it, so that it is top of mind. If you don’t check back in, it must not be that important.
Without inspection, your expectation is really just a wish.
You may be a chronic over-committer like me. I learned something that radically altered my over-committing.
The biggest challenges are when someone asks you to do something. You’re agreeable, and doggone likeable, so you want to reply with an immediate, “yes.” But, later you probably wish you hadn’t.
Next time, just create a space to think by using a statement that buys you some time, and allows you to choose your obligations. Just say, “That sounds really interesting. Before I can commit, though, let me check my schedule, and get back with you.”
Now, you’ve got a chance to align your schedule with your priorities before you commit.
I love reading history, and this morning, I was reading a collection of speeches by the eminent American historian, David McCullough. He said that it is easy to forget that individuals made choices and decisions in the present not really knowing how things would turn out. We tend to think of them in the context of the past. It’s too easy to forget that things didn’t have to turn out the way they did.
That impacts my choices for today. My responsibility is to step up to any challenge and recognize that it is all I can control.
In the book, The One Thing, Gary Keller made a point that was worth the entire book to me. He mentioned that the word priority didn’t become pluralized until the last century. My guess is because we wanted to lie to ourselves that we could focus on more than one thing. That’s the opposite of focus.
Priority by definition can only be one thing.
So, the next time you list your top 3 priorities, just stop, and choose one. That’s your priority.
The next time someone asks you if you did something, and you reply, “I didn’t have time,” try this instead: “I prioritized other things instead.”
Because that’s the truth. We all have the same amount of time, and we all make priority choices constantly.
That’s not a bad thing, but let’s be honest and take ownership of our time. You have plenty of time to do the things you deem important.
Maybe I’ve corrupted the good ol’ Puritan work ethic, but it seems like when I’m working hard I feel useful, and when I’m resting I feel lazy.
But the more I learn about how our bodies and mind work, the more I’m convinced that appropriate rest and downtime are far more important than I ever imagined.
So, I’m trying to embrace sleep, and plenty of it. I’m trying to accept sitting still, being calm, and sometimes even being bored.