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Daily Leadership Thought #182 – Focus First on the “What” and “Why”

July 28, 2011

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To achieve anything, you need to stay focused on the “what” and “why?”

It’s always interesting to me how many self-proclaimed “perfectionists” exist in the workplace.  One would think that with so many people so attuned to doing their jobs well, there would be minimal occurrence of error and consistently elevated levels of customer and employee satisfaction.  However, we often see individuals using this attribute as a crutch for missing deadlines or not getting things done at all.  Ironically, the very people who claim to care the most end up accomplishing the least or acting as bottlenecks for others.  Why is this, especially if you believe as I do that most employees want to do their jobs well, they just need the direction and support to get there?  It is because they end up becoming overwhelmed and focused on the wrong things.

Life is a constant balance between doing things well and getting something done.  We need to be able to distinguish between what is truly important and what is not.  If we cannot do this, then we end up exhausting our internal resources and yielding opportunities to others who manage their time and energy better. Perfection is more of an ideal than a destination – you will never get there.  However, what you can do is get incrementally better each day at the things that matter most in your business (and life).  As referenced by Jim Collins in his groundbreaking book, Good to Great, positive momentum will only beget further positive momentum and this will predictably accelerate with time.   You ever notice how successful people and organizations accomplish much more with their time and energy than their peer groups?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s results that matter not activities.  If you find yourself bogged down in the unimportant, mired in detail, or always rationalizing why things can’t happen, or are behind schedule, then there is a problem.  The problem is you – your inability to focus and prioritize on the very things that will make you successful.  All things are not equally important – “get out of the weeds”!  Get in the habit of asking yourself, “why am I doing this?

When it comes to building positive momentum, start first with the high priority needs of your clients and then your employees/colleagues.  You would not be in business (or employed) without either group.  Next, focus diligently on making wise economic decisions that only increase your capacity to invest in meeting these needs.  Build quality win-win relationships and the rewards will follow.  It is this simple.  True success in business and life is not about how great YOU are, but about how significant your impact is on those around you!

Never lose sight of the “what” and “why.”