How to Prioritise
Some days I just need to get things in perspective. Too much drama and chaos doesn’t make for a productive day. Being a leader is all about learning how to prioritise.
I began my career in the most corporate of all – IBM in New York in the eighties. We dressed up in dark suits with white shirts and even the women wore bows around our collars for ties.
We would dress up to play a role – it was like we left our personality at the door. It was so very serious. I was working in a marketing support role and would often be asked to work weekends and late at night to deliver the support materials for executives. It seemed so very important.
A university friend of mine was coming to visit NYC for a weekend and I was asked to work that same weekend. He was a great mate and I was absolutely torn as to what to do. I ended up telling my employer that I could not work that weekend and had a great weekend in the city with my pal. But I had the terrible foreboding guilt that I had let my employer down on something really important – that I’d made a career limiting decision.
Now 25 years on – I know that IBM does not remember that weekend (or even that I worked there) or the fact that I did not work (management probably didn’t even remember 25 days later) – but my friend would remember the time he came to NYC from Australia and I was too busy to see him.
He is now the Godfather to my daughter.
Sometimes when we are in the thick of things it is hard to get perspective.
“We rush to the urgent for the sake of the important” as the legendary Jack Daly says. For more of his wisdom, see his below book:
It is so often the case in much of what we do. Rather than looking for the route cause of an issue – we rush to find a solution for it. To make the problem go away without tackling the source.
I know that the source of much of our innovation has come from the fact that we look at the fundamentals of the issue or problem rather than looking for a quick fix.
In the long run, you need to go about the process of consistently addressing important issues for the long-term good, rather than the short-term urgent.
I have many emails to answer and meetings to attend, but the one hour a day working on something for the future of the business and not the immediate has reaped its rewards ten-fold over the years.
No one needs me between 7.30 and 8.30am – the urgent can wait an hour.
It is a discipline to block out the time to invest in the future.