It is easy to stay busy. Email, metrics, social media, news, industry articles, data, customers, peers, and bosses all constantly scream for your attention. You can be well-informed and be known for quick responses to emails. You can very easily appear to be busy. You can be on many boards. It makes you feel good, feel important and needed to be so busy.
“Never confuse motion with action.” – Benjamin Franklin
We humans trick ourselves and others into believing we are busy. We become addicted to how being busy makes us feel. Your busy-ness grows and gathers momentum like a snowball rolling down a hill. It becomes expected of you to respond to email immediately, to be the go-to person for help in every situation. You become known as a multitasker and wear the label like a badge of honor. You are “The Man” or “The Woman”. You can do it all! But, are the things you are staying busy with actually moving you forward, toward your goals?
If you think so, you are confused and delusional.
To have true impact and get the right things done you have to know your direction. Imagine a pilot taking off from the runway. Our pilot knows where he is supposed to land. But, on the way there is an interesting mountain just a little off course. We go take a look. On the way to the mountain another plane is in our path. So, we diverge to get out of its way. Then, a hailstorm appears in front of us. Once again, we change our path to avoid the storm. We now turn again to go back and look at that mountain. As we fly by our pilot suddenly remembers where we are supposed to land. But, we are almost out of fuel. We have just enough to go back to our starting point. We land, back at our beginning. Our pilot is a hero. We got to see a terrific mountain. We just missed crashing into another plane. We avoided a terrible storm. And, we landed safely. We’ll try again tomorrow.
Are your days like our heroic pilot? Do you accomplish lots of great things? Do you end your day no closer to your goals than when you started?
A real flight is somewhat like our imaginary flight above. Things do constantly happen. Pilots do not take a plane in a straight path from takeoff to landing. Pilots adjust and correct the plane’s direction constantly. The pilot takes action that maintains the direction toward the landing point.
As a leader you must keep your goals in mind. Leaders are the pilots of their teams; they must keep the focus on direction toward the goals. Leaders need to know the purpose of the actions being taken. As a leader, you must drive the direction of the actions you, or your team, take.
Of course there are things that must be done, which diverge from your primary goals. Serving on boards serves a useful purpose. Important work is done by boards. Helping peers, customers, or bosses is important, too. However, you should choose how you spend your time wisely. Know your goals. Know your direction. Keep your own and your team’s actions focused on those goals and direction. And, you will end at your destination.
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