In the previous post I listed the four benefits gained from an effective strategic staff. Just to be clear, that strategic staff may be formal (paid and designated as your associates) or may be informal (either paid or volunteer but who round out your work load because you have come to rely on them and trust them). If you’re joining this discussion here, you might want to read the first and second installments of this topic. Having laid the foundation in those two posts, there are two choices before you.
Choice #1 – You can maintain your present practices and hope things get better. You can hope something will happen somehow that will finally permit you to address what’s most important to you (your circle of concern). I have a friend who’s a retired Air Force colonel who often reminds me that “hope is not a valid strategy.” You know that if you do what you have always done you will get what you’ve always gotten.
Choice #2 – You can learn the skills and techniques that will enable you to light a fire under people without getting burned. It will be critical that you avoid generalities. It is my expectation that by the end of this series you will have found the time to work on the things that are the most important to you. You will have progressed well into the process of handing off responsibility to others. What I will discuss in the posts yet to come will gain significance if you can immediately and specifically enclose them within the context of your real life.
Here Are Three Simple Exercises That Will Change Your Life TODAY!
First, Make a List of Everything You Do. Since we’re dealing primarily with your professional life, list out every task, every responsibility, every commitment. This will take some time to do it well. Don’t be general, writing something like “Oversee the marketing department.” Be more detailed. List individual tasks like, “plan monthly sales meeting, write copy for new product catalog page…” Remember, you will be finding people to extend your reach, multiply your effectiveness, divide your work, and quicken your pace. You have to know what responsibilities you shoulder before you can safely give some of them away. If this seems too big, then tackle one segment of your life. Here’s a hint: begin with the area of work you dislike the most. If you’re going to give away work, there’s no reason to keep the tasks you don’t like to do. Let’s get rid of them first.
Next, of the list you’ve just made, mark those items that Only You can do. While there are some things on your list that you, and only you can do, there should be many, many tasks that can readily be handled by someone else. When you’re finished with your list, go over it again. Be honest, logical, even brutal in your assessment. Remember, your objective is to be able to focus on those things that are of the absolute highest importance to you and to give everything else away. Don’t worry now about whether you have anyone else to do them. That’s not the point of this exercise. I want you to distill the fog of activities that obscure your vision, allowing the important things to precipitate.The fog of so much stuff to do and so many demands on your time keeps you flailing about. You cannot see clearly until you rid yourself of the fog. You do that by thinking, evaluating, categorizing, organizing, and most of all, deciding. I want you to measure the essence of who you want to be and what you want to do with your life. When your list is edited, you should have a summary of what you have to do and what you want to do.
Next, Make a List of the People Who Are At Hand, Those on Staff, Persons You Can Immediately Conscript. Before you can light a fire you have to have firewood. There are people around you who might be able to handle some of the things on your give away list. It is these names you will begin to work with and through. Later on, you will define the limitations of that list and implement a strategy to acquire more talent where it is needed.
In the posts that follow you will discover how to do just that. Traditionally we have hired people by examining their skills, experience, and capacity to meet the requirements of the job. This is actually step two in the fire lighting process. Step one begins in the next post.
See you again on Monday. Until then, let me know what challenges you about this process. I promise to answer your questions and elaborate on your concerns.