It’s easy to be busy
The important question asks is busyness of any value? I suppose some busy work is a necessity, but it should be clearly identified as such. Busy should be directed to achievement not filling in the time. Activity is not necessarily action.
Pay less attention to activity and more attention to action.
Action moves things forward, and sometimes back if it is poorly considered. Then it is education. I was involved with a business once whose sales manger had a motto for his staff.
“No matter how often, how hard, or how fast you ride a rocking horse, you don’t get anywhere.”
Beware of rocking horse jobs and projects
In sales, people need to discover early on that the second best result is a quick no. Slow no and slow yes are both rocking horse activities. They keep you busy but they go nowhere.
In most bureaucracies, it is easier to keep a rocking horse going than it is to get something action oriented moving. The problem is limited authority to make a decision withing a bureaucracy. The nature of the organization nearly invariably denies easy decisions on new or different projects.
Learn to quit
Quitting sounds like a bad thing, but in context, it is not. The trick is to distinguish between what you are trying to accomplish and how you go about achieving it.
If quitting involves a how, no problem. You have learned something and can take that knowledge to another how. If failing at a how makes you quit a what, you have seriously erred. Most whats are harder to implement than people think. The whole project, if worthy, should not be deterred by the difficulty of implementing.
If you don’t quit failed hows, you will be nurturing them while riding the rocking horse.
You can’t quit methods unless ….
You have a strategy. An overarching purpose. One with time frames, resource allocations, people assignments and a clear description of what is required. Authority, responsibility and resources.
A good strategy lets you say no to a tactic, gracefully. “That isn’t working for me so I am going to stop.”
The best strategies let you say no before you even begin. “That tool doesn’t attach to my strategy so I will say no. But, keep in touch.” People would save themselves money and a lot of valuable time if they mastered that sentence.
If strategy is poorly defined, you can accidentally quit the important part when a tactic goes wrong.
Rely on yourself for strategy
Strategy is relatively simple. The first time is challenging because the questions are uncomfortable and conflicts appear. It becomes necessary to establish priorities and the first thing you learn with those is that YES to one thing means NO to a whole range of other things.
People don’t like NO very much. It raises their FOMO level. Fear of missing out is high on our list of fears.
Find others to rely on for “How”
How is complex and ever changing. No one can keep up to everything they need to know about how. They have a life to live and they have how in their work that no one else knows or understands. They would think someone who did their own mining assay to be a fool. No one does their own root canal. A person who defends themselves in court has a fool for a client. Do it yourself is a failing deal for a reason.
People seldom have access to tools they need or they know too little to be effective.
Hire the answer to how questions.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.
In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772