Yesterday we read about a day in my (or your) life. The themes were a bit generic, but they represented the kinds of challenges facing leaders in almost every sector.
There are three specific things I want to draw your attention to in this vignette:
Epiphany 1: There is Not Enough Time
As hard as I worked, starting early, working through lunch, ending late, I still could not get everything done. Think about how many times have you said to yourself, or another, “I don’t have enough time to get this all done!” At one level, you know this is the reality. However, if you are like me, you have denied that reality for a long time. If you just worked harder, if you were just better organized, if you could just control your email, if you could…! So, stop and accept it. There is not enough time, and that’s the reality. While this can be an overwhelming conclusion, it can also be liberating. I still remember the conversation that triggered this epiphany for me. I was talking with a wonderful elementary school principal and I asked her how she got everything done. She replied, “I don’t. I’ll never be able to get it all done, but what I don’t do today will be there waiting for me tomorrow.” Her simple acceptance that it can’t all get done was a game-changer for me.
Epiphany 2: I Choose Where to Invest My Time
If I accept that I can’t do it all, then I need to make choices about what gets done and what doesn’t. In the vignette, I chose to focus on my email instead of network with my colleagues. I chose to invest a certain amount of time in the presentation. I chose not to reach out to my new report, James. While this seems obvious, think about how little thought I actually put into my choices.
Here’s the wonderful thing about accepting that it can’t all get done: You choose what gets done and what doesn’t. It may not feel like you have choices because you have been unintentional about making them. However, the first big step to getting off of the treadmill is to embrace the idea that you do make choices. You can choose to run on autopilot from urgent task to urgent task, or you can choose to make purposeful decisions based on criteria that reflect your priorities. This brings us to the third epiphany.
Epiphany 3: My Choices Reflect My Priorities
For me, this has been the most challenging of the three epiphanies. It is scary because it forces me to confront some inconsistencies between my beliefs and my actions. Tomorrow, we will dissect my day in a bit more detail by examining the choices I made. I’m not concerned with establishing whether these were good or bad choices. What’s important is to understand where and why I made the choices. Becoming conscious of our choices is a necessary step to becoming more intentional about making them in the first place.
If you’d like to get a head start on tomorrow, take a minute to think about what you did and didn’t do yesterday. Did you make conscious choices based on specific criteria?
Do good and be well,