When my youngest son was little, at some point I told him taking care of my boys was my number one job. While I don’t remember the specific conversation, he never forgot it. At various times through his growing up years, when he felt like he wasn’t getting enough attention, he would stop me — sometimes even putting his hands on either side of my face so I would look him in the eye — and ask “Who’s your number one job?”
What about you? As a leader, are you clear on your number one job at any given point in time? It usually isn’t the thing screaming the loudest among all the urgent things coming at you each day. Those “clanging cymbals” may be someone else’s number one job, but not necessarily yours. What would happen to your productivity if you started every day by asking, “What is my number one job today?” Simple question, and I’m guessing most days it would not be that hard to answer, if only we would ask.
Unfortunately, it is easy to get swallowed up by the 47 things on our to-do list, and the 12 interruptions along the way. When someone says something is urgent and has to be dealt with right away, do you just take that at face value and respond, or compare its importance with your number one job? It’s amazing how prioritization can fall into place with that one simple question.
Now on any given day, your number one job may change. (I’m talking priorities here, not big picture focus) For a season, your priority may be on developing your team. At another time, it may be on building community collaborations, or getting a new program off the ground. You know, the kinds of things that are really important in the long run, that are critical for meeting your long-term goals, but aren’t going to scream their way to the top of your list. Yeah, those things.
And unless you have someone who will look you in the eye and challenge you on your priorities, it will probably be up to you to boil all the “stuff”before you down to one simple question.
Today, right now, what is your number one job? Quit reading, and get after it!
Note: This entry was originally posted on 3/9/16.