- What do I know now?
- What is the problem that is slowing things down or has brought them to a standstill?
- What is it that is keeping me from getting the results I want?
- What processes do I need to change?
- What people do I need to help me?
- What resources do I need to reach my goals?
What Do You Do With a Mess?
Have you ever seen those news reports about people who hoard stuff?
It’s usually pretty ugly, isn’t it?
These aren’t your usual packrats, mind you. These are people who save every piece of paper that was handed to them, every stitch of clothing they ever bought, and even every piece of trash they’ve generated during their entire lives.
It’s as if these people live in a junkyard. The years bring more and more stuff. And the default action is to just throw it into one of the many piles in the house. It’s like the biker woman in the Jerk when Navin asks, “Where do you keep your trash?”
She tosses the chewed up corn dog stick into the corner.
“Oh, you keep it there.”
If you want to get any work done, you can’t do it effectively in a pile of confusion.
You need focus.
Think of it like this. I’m nearsighted. Without my glasses, the world looks like a giant blob if its more than a few feet away. When magnification is applied to my eyes, the world comes into focus.
That is where the first work habit comes in.
Clear your desk of everything that doesn’t apply to the work at hand.
Distractions abound, don’t they? Well, if you want to get anything done well, you have to filter out the noise. You’ve got to devote 100% of your attention to what you’re doing. When you don’t, you’ll miss things. You’ll overlook the essentials. And a distraction can easily take your mind off what’s truly important.
When all the clutter is gone, you’re free to give any task your best effort.
Figure Out What Matters Most and Do That First
Every task has steps.
Anthony Robbins calls this the “syntax of success”.
It’s really important to do things in the order of their importance.
Here’s a simple example. Let’s say you’re taking a trip to Grandma’s this Christmas. There are some things you need to do first, aren’t there? If you don’t know the best way, then you should map it out. Does your car have enough gas to get there? It would be good to know before you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with a gallon of gas and the next station is 47 miles down the road.
If you don’t do the things you need to at the optimum time, you can waste an enormous amount of time fixing the problem you created.
I locked my keys in the car one morning. I had stopped to get some gas. I should have put my keys in my pocket but for some reason I didn’t. I bumped the lock with my wrist and the door closed.
As I went to get back in, I discovered my mistake.
Fortunately, home was only three miles away.
I spent 45 minutes walking to my house and then waited another 30 minutes for my wife to arrive and take me back to my car. The problem was this happened before there was a cell phone in every pocket. I had no way to contact her. Fortunately, I knew she was coming home later that morning.
So check you plans before you begin a big task. Are you doing the things first that will pave the way for a smooth flow of work later?
Sometimes All the Planning in the World Isn’t Enough
It’s great to plan. But the truth is you can’t plan for absolutely everythng. Sometimes things just happen that you never could have imagined.
One thing you can do to battle this world full of uncertainty is to become highly curious.
What does that mean, you say?
When a problem comes along, follow the advice of the band Devo and just “Whip it Good.”
Here’s how you do that.
You need to ask yourself some pertinent questions like these:
This should get your mind thinking.
The objective here is to get to the solution as quickly as possible so you can make a decision. And when you can make a decision based on solid facts, you can get moving again.
The key to this habit is to tackle problems as they arise. It’s crucial because this isn’t a perfect world. It’s not whether problems will arise, it’s when. Expect it. Welcome it. And then, deal with it.
That’s the essence of leadership.
Nothing gets solved standing by and waiting for a savior to rescue you when you have the power to fix things yourself.
Most Things Are a Team Effort
I love watching the Georgia Bulldogs play (most of the time).
It doesn’t matter to me if you like the Bulldogs or not. The point is the same. When you watch your favorite team play, isn’t there more than one person on the field?
Of course there is.
Any team that puts all its hopes on one star player to bail them out of their collective weakness is the most foolish group around.
One man is not a team. Yeah, I know, the Army ran those ads about being an “Army of One” years ago. Sure, action hero movies portray the hero as a one man force that can singlehandedly solve the greatest problems facing mankind. But really, does anything really great happen because one person does it?
To accomplish anything huge, you need a team.
This nation was founded because people, not just one hero, took a stand, risked their lives, and fought hard to win the freedom we enjoy today. One man stepped on the moon, but a team worked to get him there. One person may have won the gold medal in the Olympics but a coach, a family, and a team of supporters helped get him there.
You don’t create a bestseller without a team of buyers.
You don’t create a movement without willing followers.
And if you want to do anything that matters, you have to do it with others in mind.
The Only Rules You Need
These rules will guarantee your best performance if you’ll follow them.
You’ll be more focused on what you’re doing.
You’ll be more efficient.
You won’t be crippled by roadblocks and sudden problems.
And you’ll be able to mobilize your team to reach its objectives.
Do these and you’ll always be an asset to your team.