Not enough time...

I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. A project or deadline is quickly approaching and you think to yourself, if I only had more time, everything would be so much better.

It might be true. More time might allow you to achieve what you’re trying to do.

But patterns of feeling like there’s not enough time can lead to frustration, burn out, and inappropriate tension. Those are all things most of us try to avoid, but somehow always encounter.

Whether it’s a personal project, something for your job, or a task at home, there’s a solution to the “not enough time” problem: better planning.

We’re all familiar with the concept of planning, but just like any skill, you can learn how to plan better

One of the strategic principles I often spread is “We plan in advance so that ‘lack of time’ is never an issue.” This means we take the time to agree on the outcome, date, and process when it’s still possible to renegotiate and make changes. It’s easier and cheaper to change the plan early on. It’s often difficult and expensive to wait till the last minute (because we’re often forced to buy an easy solution or make significant compromises). 

Some steps toward better planning...

1. Define the win. What does success look like? What’s the criteria for making decisions? Does everyone on your team agree with this?

2. Mindsweep. What things come to mind right away for this project? What do you not know and need to find out? Who could you talk to? Review the “Project Planning Trigger List” PDF attached for ideas before you jump to the next step.

3. Organize. What is the sequence of events? What needs to happen to make the whole thing happen? What checklists do you need? What are key dates? (Tip: do not start here! Our natural tendency is to begin at step 3 instead of steps 1 and 2.) 

4. Delegate Authority. Who can you give authority away to make decisions and carry out the outcome? Remind them of what the win looks like.

5. Define Next Actions. Who has the next action? If two people do, no one does. 

6. Track “Waiting Fors.” Is there anything you’re waiting for? Keep a list somewhere handy to track people you are waiting on. Do they know you’re waiting for them?

Question to consider...  Are there any projects you’re working on now where you might need to renegotiate the commitment? 

Giving authority away

Check out this awesome quote from Craig Groeschel: “When you delegate tasks you create followers. When you delegate authority, you create leaders.”

Delegating tasks looks like people “helping you” to get something done. This results in followers. You have the authority—they have an action item.

However, when you give away authority, you give someone else the ability to make decisions on their own, which allows them to step up a leader (yet you’re still the leader). 

Great teams of leaders create leaders.

In other words, they’re not just on the team to fulfill a task, but to pour into people.

Great leaders build better leaders and create opportunities for them to exercise their strengths

That means your role isn’t to just do a bunch of tasks and get things done — it’s to develop leaders on your team. There is probably someone in your sphere of influence that you could “free up” to take ownership of something. Your job is to give them that opportunity. The way to do it is by giving them authority, not tasks. 

Some questions to consider... 

  • Do you feel like you have the authority to make decisions in your role as a leader?
  • As a follow up to that first question, think of the people on your team. Do they feel like they have the authority to make decisions? (How can you help them to make sure they do?)
  • What are some upcoming projects where you can give someone else the authority to carry out a project? (And not micromanage them!)
  • Are you building a team of “helpers” or “leaders”? 

Resistance as positive evidence

When we encounter Resistance, we might get discouraged conclude that our idea or project is being rejected and a failure. We interpret Resistance as negative evidence.

But what if we counted Resistance as positive evidence?

Resistance is evidence that our idea just might stick...

Resistance is evidence that our art isn’t for everyone...

Resistance is evidence that we haven’t reached enough people yet...

Resistance is evidence that you shipped and got work out into the world...

Resistance is evidence that difficult people will always exist and show up in any area where you show up...

Sustained focus is a competitive advantage

Today’s culture requires each of us to set personal boundaries to allow ourselves to focus on what we choose to focus.

It’s harder than ever to focus

In our day and age today, it’s harder than ever to focus. Not only do phones ping and email ding, but there’s an expectation in our relationships at work and home that we’re always on, always available.

Are you growing?

To gain this competitive advantage, you must grow in your ability to focus.

Some strategies

Behavior: getting from pointless to purposeful

Pointlessness. I hate it. Don’t you?

I bet that you, just like me, have had pointless experiences. Pointless meetings. Pointless texts. Pointless phone calls. Pointless conversations.

We can be tempted to say, “yeah, but even thru the pointless experiences, you can find meaning!” Or we might say, “even when things seem POINTLESS, there’s a bigger thing that’s always going on.” Or, “Relationships are valuable. Dealing with pointless stuff is part of building relational capital!” And, I’d agree. But for a moment, think with me...

Pointless experiences (meetings, conversations, phone calls, emails, documents, text messages, etc.) are deemed “pointless” by you and I, the ones who think. We don’t simply do things “just because,” but with a purpose. Purpose drives everything we do. We hate when we are unclear on the objective, can’t see the “why,” and don’t know our role in the larger picture. We hate when behaviors don’t align with how we like to operate: with organization, clarity, agendas, and meaning.

So here’s my idea: you and I must spread a passion for purposeful behavior. We must talk about “how we behave” to our co-workers, bosses, and colleagues who typically facilitate pointless experiences. We must spread a passion for thinking things through and taking the time to decide. We must find great models and ways of doing things that can spread to others and not just be based on our own personal preferences.

If we base our work satisfaction on whether or not others “do things the way WE like them,” we will always be frustrated, annoyed, and bogged down. But if we learn to see opportunities to come along side others and suggest a mutually BETTER way of doing things, we can experience growth, change, and progress.

The more you and I demonstrate what it looks like to give something the attention it deserves (a document, an email, a meeting agenda), we will gain more creditability and influence with those around us. It’s creditability and influence that then gives you a seat at the table to bring about real change in how things are done.

I don’t know if you’re discouraged today by something that happened at work. Maybe you feel like your boss is an idiot... you’re putting in all this extra, valuable effort . . . and it’s unnoticed.

Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Make a list of the kinds of “key behaviors” that you’d like to see more of
  2. Demonstrate the behavior you want to see more of
  3. Find an opportunity to talk about “how you behave” with your co-workers*
  4. Continue to talk about the kind of behavior that best serves you & your work
  5. Regularly make adjustments and perform course-correction

* My suggestion for how to find an opportunity to talk about “behavior” is this (based on advice from Clay Scroggins): Find a moment when you are having a light/easy-going moment with your boss or co-worker. Ask them their advice on how you can bring up things you disagree about in that moment — when the stakes are lower and the air isn’t tense. Use this as an opportunity not to talk about the hard stuff but to learn the best way to bring up the hard stuff, the next time it does.

Core principles

We all operate with a set of core principles and commitments. Some of us are aware of what they are, others haven’t defined them yet.

Whether they’re written down and “defined” or not, they still exist. They just might be in the dark.

A bright light can help.

Shining light in a certain area exposes what’s hidden. Most of us have something that’s in the dark: deep in our heads and hearts. And some people can walk around and be OK with all of that in the dark. Others go crazy.

The goal is to figure out first what kind of person you are and how you best operate. Then figure out the people around you and how they best operate.

If you need your core principles visible, keep them visible. If you don’t, then don’t worry about it.