Key Point: With my 40-plus years in leadership roles it’s so obvious and yet so daunting. There are some people that have learned how to execute and get things done. They become highly valued and known as “go to” people. But too many employees create a lot of wind and confuse activity with accomplishment. They talk continually, hold endless meetings and make wonderful plans, wish for better or different results, but in the final analysis make little or no progress. My intention is to surround myself with the “doers” and I am becoming less patient with the “wishers.” What can each of us do to progress further along the “doer” continuum?
As a follower of The Character Triangle, you likely know that my short form definition for self-accountability is, “do it now.” That’s because I see procrastination as a giant hurdle for lots of folks who are stuck in “wish land.” Brian Tracy, the renowned author, speaker and leadership pundit, wrote a book a few years ago called Eat That Frog! It was inspired by a Mark Twain quote:
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Twain.
Watch this for Tracy’s more thorough explanation.
Tracy says that if you just do the task you have been procrastinating, then all assignments after won’t seem as bad. He also says that if you have two frogs, “eat the uglier one first.” This means do your hardest task first, the one you have been putting off the longest. Tracy also has a couple of other key principles worth considering when accelerating our “doer” continuum. I’ve absorbed a few of these into recommended actions below.
- Really concentrate on getting the hardest or highest value things done first. This discipline creates a feeling of success and puts us in more control. It is also such a relief when it checks off of our “worry list” and into our “did it” pile. Tracy believes the ability to concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task, do it well and finish it completely, is the key to great success, achievement, respect, status and happiness in life.
- Learn to distinguish between what is really valued versus activity. Like Tracy notes, one of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need NOT be done at all. I see this at work all the time. People work on perfecting a report no one reads, hold a meeting of little value, read emails that are a waste of time, etc. You can only get your time and life under control to the degree you discontinue lower-value activities, (like watching a useless TV show instead of learning something to advance your skills).
- I do not know why, but people resist writing goals down. If you can’t articulate where you want to go and be, you will likely end up somewhere you won’t want to be. Like Tracy says, “goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.” And although the following sounds simplistic, it’s essentially true: By the yard it’s hard; but inch-by-inch, anything is a cinch.
Eat that frog in The Triangle,