We're slowly recovering from the rollover last week. My son's doing better this week, but we're still not out of the woods. Thanks for all the kind thoughts and well-wishes. It really did make the whole week seem better.
Through it all, thankfully, I still managed to get the important things in my life and work done. How? I learned a very simple way to prioritize my day so that what's really important gets handled. No. Matter. What.
About a year ago, I shared a brief overview of The PEACE System in one of the first season episodes. The one hurdle that people keep bringing to me is the never-ending to-do list. Despite prioritizing everything, there's a LOT of to-do's that still aren't getting done.
This week, we're digging into why.
Warning: you may be stepping on a few toes when you do, but never fear! The Spice Girls are here to help you!
Inside The PEACE System, I talk about three different kinds of to-do's. By paying attention to the different kinds of to-do's on your list, you can get a better handle on what is keeping you from getting more of the right things done.
Must-Do's are activities that must be done AND must be done by YOU, in order to reap the benefit. Generally, these are what I consider IPA - Important Personal Activities, or Income-Producing Activities. The definitions of those terms (like so many of the terms I use) are loose, and open to your interpretation. Brushing your teeth is a must-do. It's not likely you're going to get someone else to do it for you, and if you don't do it, well, there are consequences. Within the Must-Do category, there are a couple of types of Must-Do's - Routine/preventative (like brushing your teeth, seeing your kid's class play, or doing client work, for example), and Emergency (car roll-over, in-laws decided to drop in, that kind of thing).
The irony of many Emergency Must-Do's is that they are often (but not always) the result of NOT doing the Routine Must-Do's. If you don't get your tires checked on schedule, you could end up with a blowout on the freeway which causes the car to roll over - and the subsequent trip to the Emergency room. Do not skip the Routine stuff just because it's unsexy, or doesn't seem urgent. Preventative maintenance is crucial in your life and business!
Want To-Do's are all those activities related to the fun things we really want to do - like taking a trip (or planning it), visiting friends, working on a hobby, reading, watching a movie, etc. These aren't things that move the needle on our business, and they're not necessarily Must Do's, but we really want to do them. Chaotic and Fusion creatives tend to have a long list of Want To-Do's, which can lead to resentment, anger, frustration, and other disempowering emotions when you can't find the time to do those things. This typically results in an "all or nothing" rampage where work on everything else stops until you can clear some of the Want To-Do's off your list. Like the day I refused to do any work and just binge-watched my favorite show on Netflix all day. Not productive, but I sure did enjoy myself - until I started feeling guilty about not getting any work done.
Should-Do's are the bane of humanity. And I don't say that lightly. Everything from the well-meaning insinuations of your friends and family ("you should really finish packing for your trip, sweetie!"), to the more overt accusations we throw at ourselves ("I should really get to the gym this week!"), Should-Do's are the things that we throw into our day without making them a real priority. In the end, you may find yourself accomplishing a lot of Should-Do's, but not moving forward on your most important priorities at all. You sure are busy, but you're spinning your wheels on unimportant tasks - or worse, waffling from "should" to "should" - like bouncing back and forth between email and facebook messages for ten or fifteen minutes, just to be "sure" you're not missing anything important - and not getting anything accomplished at all.
Not that I speak from experience, or anything (sigh).
It's easy to get stuck in a "should-do" loop, and the only way to break the cycle is to make a decision. If it's a real priority, put it in your calendar and act on it appropriately. If you're not sure if it's a priority or not, try using the Eisenhower Matrix to help you get clarity. If it's not a priority, don't pretend like it is - even to appease your family or friends. In reality, you're doing a disservice to yourself and those well-meaning loved ones. Instead, set and enforce clear boundaries around your priorities and your time. And...
Be willing to accept the consequences of the priorities you set. (Tweet This)
Some people will balk at your new-found decisiveness. After all, you've been training them to give you all this well-meaning advice for a while now. It may take time to get them on board with this new direction. Your biggest fans, however, will understand that this is something you've got to do to take control of your calendar and start gaining momentum toward that Noble Empire and inspired life you're creating.
Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and let's be a rising tide fo everyone. If you're interested in learning more about The PEACE System, be sure to get on the wait list, as enrollment re-opens this fall.
Every hero has values to which he clings. Superman had "truth, justice, and the American way" while MacGyver believed his mind was more effective than guns for solving problems. Some values are more honorable than others, but you can't be a hero without values worth dying for.
Not a concept that's widely embraced in the business world. Not too many corporations that I'm aware of would lay down their lives for the work they do (or the workers that do it). The very nature of a corporation is to generate a profit for shareholders - and sometimes doing what's right may mean NOT generating profit for shareholders.
So is it possible to be heroic in business? Absolutely. Because doing the right thing is always in style, even if the shareholders disagree.
Men and women of action always have a choice. We can choose to value principles over profit, people above things, and not be a martyr in the process. We can do what's right, knowing that the long-term reward is far greater.
And no, I'm not talking about "eternal rewards" or heaven here. I'm talking about the tough decision to close a business segment that's losing money, and shifting those people and resources into areas where better work can be done. I'm talking about the tough decision to NOT fire good people if they can be used elsewhere, even if it means a short term cashflow pinch (not crisis, mind you. That's different.).
I'm talking about having values worth dying for.
When "the world" tells you how things "should" be, even thought your gut tells you otherwise, and your values guide you in a different direction, do you cave? Or do you choose to be the action hero?
Will you take a short term beating for a long term gain?
So many people will do anything to avoid even the slightest amount of pain. Yet, pain is a part of growth. Discomfort & uncertainty abound in entrepreneurial circles. You can't avoid it if you want to grow. And yet, time and again I see people take what appears to be an "easy" way out, only to find themselves stuck in "the fire swamp" because they didn't trust their gut.
Remember, heroes are not above getting bloodied up a bit - so long as the fight is in alignment with their values.
As you examine your own business, think about these questions:
If you can't answer these questions, you've got your work cut out for you. It would be nice if you could stop and get absolute clarity on this before you do anything else. However, I recognize that's not always practical.
Remember, this isn't about issuing a "vision statement" or some other piece of equally benign paper. Show, don't tell. "Be the change you want to see" and all that.
Take a few minutes to share with me (via email or as a comment on this post) any/all of the following:
A. What do YOU value in life and business?
B. What did you learn when you asked others what they think you value?
C. Based on what you know about me, what do you think I value?
I'm sharing my results in a later post. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens!
Over the last few months, I've been digging into what I really enjoy: music (over 30 songs are in the can now!), performing (check my upcoming gigs here), and learning about people. Specifically, I've been swimming through books like these about finding and living your true purpose. Ultimately, it all comes down to two things: connecting to your soul, and leading with your strengths.
Coming from someone that espouses the notion that you can follow your passion, build a Noble Empire and live an inspired life, that sounds kind of blasphemous, right? Well, let me explain...
See, you can't be whatever you want to be. You MUST be exactly who you are called to be. Sometimes, when our passion is aligned with our divine gifts, then we CAN be whatever we want to be, because what we want to be is exactly who we are called to be. But you can't just pick something because you see someone else doing it - or even because you might be proficient at it.
Is that confusing? Let me try again, with a little help from "Kung Fu Panda":
When "life happens" we buy into the illusion of control that Master Shifu so ardently defends and Master Oogway tenderly releases. I've maintained for a very long time that we are all born with what I call "undeniable gifts" - our personal arsenal of strengths that are meant to move us through this world with confidence toward success. When our gifts aren't suited to the demands that life throws in our face at any given moment, we dig in, start learning and "adapting" ourselves away from our strengths (instead of reaching out to get help from someone else who IS skilled at the issue we face).
We see our limitations as a deficiency on our part - something we've got to fix - instead of celebrating our innate, interdependent design.
What happens for many of us, though, is that, instead of returning to what we've been blessed to be good at once the storm is over, our strengths get buried, neglected, or overlooked in favor of those more "useful" skills. Your True Voice gets silenced.
It's then that our masterpiece gets covered over, stored away for a future day.
Many times, we never return, never dust off that masterpiece, and never display it with pride - because we're spending way too much time trying to fix what's broken, improve what's not working, instead of celebrating the glorious way God made us to be in this world.
Tom Rath said it best: "You cannot be anything you want to be - but you can be a lot more of who you already are."
Home Depot was faced with a big decision: keep growing at the expense of current stores, or reign in growth and tighten up what they're already doing to create more loyal customers. They knew when to call it quits and focus on what they do best. In an era when everyone is focused on "bigger" and "grow", Home Depot said "Hey, let's refine what's already working!" and they've seen great success in that.
What about you?
Are you focusing on what you do well, or bemoaning the fact that you're doing all kinds of stuff just to survive? Are you even in the arena of your undeniable gifts anymore, or have you locked that masterpiece up somewhere in the dusty attic of your ancient past?
It took me almost a decade to return to music with any meaningful effort. It's something I'm damn good at, but as a mom and wife, well it's not such a useful skill. Changing diapers, cleaning house, and keeping peace took priority over piano practice, learning new music, and touring.
"Life happened" all over me - and with it, the "shoulds". I let my own gifts go unnoticed because I was trying to be a better mom, wife and housekeeper. There just wasn't time left in my day to sing the songs God had already planted in my heart.
But somewhere inside my head, I had drummed up the notion that I was a bad person if I didn't learn how to do all that other stuff. An while it's true, we all need to learn some skills outside our comfort zone, it's important to remember that we've been blessed with gifts that will nurture us when we share them with the world.
I'm changing that now. I'm returning to my regular rehearsal schedules, dusting off old tunes, and for the first time in a long time, I'm even writing new ones. And the world responds accordingly. New contacts arise and new opportunities are offered in alignment with my dharma. I'm speaking more, getting on stage more, and in general, loving more of what life is offering. In short, I'm being more of who I already am, and less of what I'm not.
It's not always easy, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.