Enhancing Your Impact by Choosing Not to Do It All
by Sue Edwards, ACC, CHRP, President of Development by Design.
How often have you heard yourself say, ”I’ve got so many balls in the air I don’t know how I can possibly keep track of them all”?
We may be managing to keep the balls in motion, but how good is our juggling performance really? Are our movements controlled and rhythmic? Or are we merely gritting our teeth and hoping to catch the next ball before it falls on the ground?
Recently I was speaking with a colleague (we’ll call her Barbara) who is a high achievement-oriented and well-regarded senior manager. She was overwhelmed by how much was on her plate. In addition to handling her high-pressure career, she had begun pursuing a post-graduate degree on top of another certificate program. Furthermore, several projects at home also competed for her attention. In the midst of all this, Barbara said that she was hoping to be able to continue to stick it out with the post-graduate degree, even though the workload was much more than she’d anticipated. To do anything other than persevere would be so out of character that it was inconceivable to her. In Barbara’s words, “it would mean giving up”.
As we talked, I asked Barbara whether there might be a more positive way of viewing the choices facing her. Rather than seeing the decision NOT to do something as GIVING UP…how could the decision be re-framed as CHOOSING TO FULFILL other important goals? Such a decision might mean choosing successful completion of a few key goals, rather than struggling to keep all the balls in motion.
In Barbara’s situation, family commitments were at the top of her priority list. Instead of “giving up”, postponing the post-graduate degree meant that she could choose to successfully meet her family priorities, while completing her certificate program and performing effectively at work.
In trying to do it all right now, we can run the risk of not meeting our most critical goals and being out of synch with our core values.
As with many challenges in the business world, useful analogies can be drawn from nature. For example, a slowly meandering brook that enters a more narrow passage will eventually transform into a surging current. By narrowing the path, the energy of the water is channeled and results in greater momentum and power. Focus can provide the same effect for us in our work and our everyday lives. In diluting our focus, we can compromise our impact.
So how do you narrow down what you are going to address? Clearly determining the priority needs of your business and your team is a critical step. Equally, if not more important, is doing an honest self-assessment of where it makes most sense for you, given your individual strengths, to spend your time.
Like many entrepreneurs, in running my own business I am constantly facing this Focus challenge. Being your own Finance, IT, Purchasing and Sales departments, as well as administrative assistant, can greatly dilute one’s efforts. Aligning myself with a team of individuals whom I can rely on for specific support is critical to ensuring I can keep my eye on my core business. It is very alluring to fall-back on the old adage “if I do it myself, I know it will get done”, but this of course can be a very limiting belief to growing your business.
I was recently challenged by my coach to look at ways I could enhance my focus by maximizing the time spent leveraging my strengths. Attending to detailed administration, for example, does not tap into my core passions to say the least. The outcome? I took the plunge and have hired a Virtual Assistant, who is a whiz at areas that are an inordinate burden for me. The momentum created by this decision is invaluable for me!
I encourage you to take a few moments to think about what one thing could you stop doing today and in doing so – enhance your impact?
Sue Edwards, ACC, CHRP, is President of Development by Design. She is a business coach who works with entrepreneurs who are eager to grow their businesses through innovative alliances. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 905-336-6129.