Leading Yourself to Greater Fulfillment
Looking forward to retirement? Perhaps you have visions of endless travels abroad or rambling around the country in a motorhome when you retire. That could be an exciting season, but is it a permanent lifestyle?
Maybe you dread the “R” word. Your identity has been wrapped up in that successful career that’s about to disappear…
If you believe that to retire is to end all meaningful purpose in life then you’ve been badly misled. Now’s your chance to really make a difference!
Continue reading Retire…Then What?
It’s Easier to Do It Myself…
You’re probably good at what you do. That’s why you’re in the position that you’re in. But now you’ve become the bottleneck. How can you possibly find time to do the tasks you’re expert at and lead others?
The answer is…You can’t!
Something Has to Give
As your organization grows, the demands on you also grow. If you want to model the Peter Principle and “rise to your highest level of incompetence” just try doing it all yourself.
So you have a choice. Continue reading Delegate? But I Do It Better!
When Leadership Seems Too Costly
Good leadership takes time. Time you don’t have. Higher pressure demands leave no time to invest in helping others be successful. That, by the way, is leadership: Investing in the success of others.
How to Grow Your Organization
Growth isn’t the only goal worth pursuing, but most organizations want to grow so let’s frame our discussion of leadership in that context.
You want to grow, and growth keeps you busy. Being good at your craft is what got you where you are. The more you grow, the more of what you’re good at there is to do. The bigger you get, the busier you get. We’ll assume you’ve successfully shed lower-level tasks so you can focus on your core skill. But eventually you become the bottleneck because your organization can’t grow past your ability to do what you’re good at. What’s the solution? Continue reading Too Busy to Lead
Stop Resisting – Learn to Use Them Well
I grew up around the construction trades. Before I was even a teenager I owned my own power tools: A drill, jig saw, and circular saw. I still have the jig saw. But the circular saw had a problem. It was misaligned and it was hard to cut straight with it. I learned then that bad tools get bad results.
Good tools, on the other hand, make getting good results easier – assuming you know how to use them well.
Since a leader’s job is to influence, most of a leader’s tools involve communication. For many leaders, meetings are a powerful tool in their shop that they haven’t learned to use well. Continue reading MEETINGS: Tools of a Leader’s Trade
Executing When We Don’t Want To
I recently wrote about the challenge of getting what we want to do to align with what we should do. Let’s continue down that path a little further. How do we move ourselves from “I should” to “I will”? Once we find the motivation for the right behavior, the next step is to find some methods for executing on those motivations.
Here are some methods and more motivations that might facilitate the shift from “I should” to “I will”:
- Break it down. Large, overwhelming tasks are paralyzing. If I think, “write a book”, I don’t have time for that. But I could find time to draft a table of contents this week. Outline one chapter next week. Write the intro the week after that. Or maybe I commit to two pages a day. Don’t focus on what you can’t do, plan and execute what you can do.
- Clear up ambiguity. We tend to shy away from anything that isn’t clear or that we don’t know how to do. You could blame it on everyone else for not making it clear and continue to wallow in unproductivity. Or you could own the responsibility to pursue clarity. Pursue it and do it.
- Be accountable. Your boss isn’t the only one who can hold you accountable, especially if you ask for it. Peers, friends, subordinates, relatives – if you can’t find someone who will hold you accountable you’re not trying very hard. Back to the book example, tell your kids they get ice cream every day that you write two pages and see if they don’t provide some accountability.
- Reward your successes. Did you do what you “should” instead of what you “wanted” to do every day this week? Get yourself some ice cream – unless eating healthier is your “should”! Put a positive spin on the things you’re most reluctant to do and your willingness will grow. What gets rewarded gets repeated.
- Make it about others. Assuming you’re not an egomaniac, focusing on how your success or failure impacts others might be the motivational nudge you need.
Whether it’s a lazy streak, risk aversion, lack of clarity, apathy, or something else that keeps you from doing what you should do, you have a choice. Succumb to it and accept the consequences or take action and overcome it. You don’t have to conquer it in one fell swoop. But like repetitions at the gym, a consistent series of small, intentional steps will strengthen your ability to resist “wants” in favor of “shoulds”. You’ll probably experience a few setbacks along the way, but don’t let them derail you. Learn from the misses and your success will continue to grow.
But I Should…
Imagine how different life would be if every time we chose our next action we based it on what we should do instead of what we want to do. Why are we surprised when our followers choose a less important task over the most important one when our own wants often win out over the shoulds?
Continue reading I Don’t Want To…
There’s a classic illustration of filling a jar with sand and big rocks. Put the sand in first and the rocks won’t fit. Put the rocks in first and the sand fills the space around the rocks and everything fits. The time management application is that we should do big, important tasks first before doing lesser things.
That’s good advice…sometimes. It might even be good advice for most people, most of the time. But – and this won’t set well if you’re a “big rock” fan – it ranks among the worst advice I’ve personally ever received. Continue reading Time Management: When Best-Practice Isn’t…
The Investment that Pays Back Big…
I’ve written before about dealing with the pervasive problem of being too busy (see https://enlumenls.com/say-no/, or the videos at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlqgjjR3m68). There is a way to gain significant ground against this problem. Now don’t roll your eyes at me until you’ve heard me out, but I believe the best, most lasting solution to being too busy is… Continue reading The Cure for “Too Busy”
Even When “No” Is The Right Answer
(Video version available here.)
Excessive busy-ness is the most common complaint I hear from clients. Is it possible to manage our workload in a way that leaves us fulfilled but not burned out? Let’s scratch the surface of that question by shining a light on our motivations and suggesting some methods to deal with it.
Our first problem is that we often wear our busy-ness as a badge of honor. Important people are expected to be busy; we want to be important; so we don’t want to admit (to ourselves or others) that we’re not busy. We fill our plates to keep our importance badge. Continue reading Why Can’t I Say “No”?