3 Questions to Energize Your Effectiveness
Over the last few months, I’ve talked with more people who seem to be a little stalled or maybe even missing their drive to move forward. Honestly, I’ve experienced this to some degree myself. It seems to me that navigating through Covid19, supply chain issues, uncertain economic times, the lack of workers and even the recent war in the Ukraine all have had their impact. Some of these are taking up a valuable amount of mindshare, and some are having a direct daily impact on operations.
It is easy to get off-kilter, as these and other business challenges face us daily. Our mindset and actions can be pulled to a reactive and narrow view. We focus on problem solving all day and on “what if” all night, rather than the purposeful things we need to do to lead effectively. Our time is spent managing rather than leading. Reactivity may even obscure our “why” entirely.
It is not always easy to recognize or admit when we are off track. I’ve found that I often need an external influence to come to the realization that I need to make some changes. This usually comes in the form of a good book or the influence of a good friend (often my wife). I believe God orchestrates and uses these things to lead us forward, and I am grateful he does.
I have been re-reading the Steven Covey classic “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and finding it both challenging and encouraging. There is even more depth here, than I remember from reading it many years ago. The book is inspiring even the second time around, and I highly recommend reading it or re-reading it if it has been a while.
This book and other sources have prompted some thought around leading forward with renewed vision. There are three questions I’ve been asking myself:
#1 – How much of your day is reacting and how much is on purpose?
This question seems very simplistic, and yet it is a great litmus test to see how effectively we are leading. It comes from Covey’s 4 Quadrants of Time Management. He espouses the need to spend time in Quadrant 2, “Not Urgent but Important.” As I look back over the last year, I must admit to myself that the challenges of our present environment have shifted me too far into reactive mode.
Covey asserts that many times it is not a discipline problem that causes us to end up in reactive mode, but a problem with our level of commitment to our purpose. The real reason we spend so much time reacting is that our purpose is not etched in our hearts deep enough. If we find ourselves here, it may be time to go back and re-affirm or create a personal mission statement. If you have a heartfelt mission, you will have an anchor to keep you living on purpose rather than living in reactivity.
How do we get out of reactive mode?
- Establish your purpose firmly and then stay focused on it. This can be a challenge. Seeing our purpose sometimes does not come easily.
- Learn to delegate appropriately by training, setting expectations for results, and creating accountability checkpoints. Effective delegation is the only way to grow. It has exponential results as you delegate to others rather than singular results that you accomplish on your own.
- Learn to ignore the time demands that don’t matter. Cut out the interruptions. Ignore the unimportant and not urgent like over-analysis, self-indulgent perfectionism, and idle speculation.
#2 – Are your decisions and thoughts fear based or purpose based?
While there is some value in considering the “what ifs”, these should not rule our thoughts and decision making. Fear kills creativity and it cripples pretty much everything – relationships, sleep, forward movement, and just real living. Leadership and life predicated on covering your butt is not effective or pleasant.
Take a moment and evaluate your thought process and decision making over the last week or two. Are you making decisions based on a clear purpose? Or is your decision making or lack thereof based on fear? There is room for weighing your decision wisely but living by FEAR or False Evidence Appearing Real is no way to live or lead.
I’ve had some of those sleepless nights, where fear and worry have kept me awake. I’m learning that a few simple practices really help. First, recognize that the worry you are experiencing is most likely about what may happen in the future. Then mentally acknowledge that what may happen tomorrow should be left for tomorrow. Second, go through a mental exercise of throwing you fears and worries off. The disciple Peter said, “Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you” and making a point of throwing your fears off helps clear your mind. Finally, if you are a praying person, let your worries drive you to prayer.
#3 – Are you applying your time and effort to doing the things nobody else wants to do?
Covey notes that E.M. Gray spent his life researching successful people and looking for the common traits that make them successful. After all his study, his primary observation was, “The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do. They don’t like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”
I’ve found this to be true for nearly all my working life. Most people don’t do the hard work that it takes to truly succeed and grow. This is even more true in our entertainment and social media culture. There are so many things to distract us, and it is so easy to be sidetracked from the important. You can excel by cutting out just some of your daily entertainment and replacing it with a habit of personal development. As John Maxwell says, “Make a commitment to grow daily.”
How effective have you been today, this week, this year? If you look back and see that you are living in reactive mode, or going through the motions, I hope you allow these questions to sink in and inspire some forward momentum. With a little effort, we can take actions, that become habits, that propel change for the better! Here’s to the rest of 2022 filled with growth and helping others do the same!
Scott Hirschfeld is the President of CTaccess, a Brookfield IT support company that has been helping businesses stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business since 1990. Under his leadership CTaccess provides the business minded approach of larger IT companies with the personalized touch of the smaller ones. Connect with Scott on LinkedIn.