Ever feel like you are on a leadership hamster wheel, simply trying to keep up with all the items on your to-do list . . . doing, doing, doing . . . and yet for each task you take off the top of the list, three things get added to the bottom? Sure, you know you need to prioritize, balance the urgent with the important, maybe even develop a stop doing list . . . and yet you remain stuck on the wheel . . . doing, doing, doing.
How can you step off the wheel? Focus on being before doing. Seriously. That one conscious shift — that momentary pause to frame your thinking — can make a huge difference in how you approach your day/project/strategic priorities. “Being” looks around . . . it surveys the landscape and identifies opportunities that help move you toward your goals. “Doing” looks down . . . nose to the grindstone, finish the task at hand as efficiently and effectively as possible.
That might sound good in theory, but what exactly does being before doing look like?
Being grateful. Intentionally choosing to be grateful is like putting on night-vision glasses that bring those things for which you are thankful into sharper focus. No the challenges of your work don’t go away, but you are better able to keep them in context. It means you focus on the amazing people you have around you to help move your organization through the tough stuff. It means you appreciate the opportunities you’ve had to learn in the past so you are better prepared to blaze a new trail that others can follow, even knowing it will likely be a difficult path. What you focus on grows in your mind. You can focus on the problem or, by choosing to be grateful, you can focus on the tools you have to solve it.
Being strategic. Deciding to be strategic shifts your perspective from what to why and how. It puts you in the drivers seat to make decisions that move you toward your long-term goals, rather than simply responding to someone else’s priorities. It allow you to identify how a particular task — regardless of how important it may seem to others — advances the vision for your organization, which makes it easier to prioritize accordingly. Being strategic allows you to have confidence in the path you choose because you know that decisions that may not make sense to others in the short term (and thus result in pushback) may be exactly what is needed to accomplish your goals in the long term.
Being you. Claiming your own unique gifts and graces — which got you to your position of leadership in the first place — keeps the “shoulds” offered by well-intentioned people in context. Granted, every strength has a shadow side when taken to extremes, however knowing how you are wired — what energizes you, what special skills do you have, where your Achilles heals lie — allows you to lead most effectively. You will lead differently from others, and prioritize different things. Not only is that okay, it is a requirement of bringing your best self to the role.
Want to step off the hamster wheel? Focus on being before doing.