In Change, Focus, Leaders

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

I recently had the good fortune of spending time with a client of ours who’s been successful for many years. They’re great at what they do from a technical standpoint, they treat people well, they’re innovative, they’re actively seeking out change on a continuous basis. In a lot of ways they’re a model company.

Now the individual who’s led the organization for decades is nearing the end of his career. It’s critical to the future success of the business that they figure out what’s coming next. How are they going to fill the role this individual filled? How will they replace his knowledge/experience/etc? Standard succession concerns.

And yet this individual refuses to take the time to work through what his transition will look like. He says he’s just too busy to add succession planning to his list of things to do. He says the people coming up behind him are smart, so they’ll figure it out.

The point here isn’t the details of succession planning. The point is that there are too many things going on in our businesses that are not getting enough attention because ‘we don’t have time.’ The problem with that argument is when we do things poorly, in the end we spend more time cleaning up messes than we would have spent if we’d have done it right in the first place (sounds like something your parents probably said to you).

So every so often (at least annually), ask yourself why you’re so busy. What am I spending my time doing? Am I actually working on things that matter? Or am I just keeping busy being busy? Too many of us do things that are comfortable or easy or low stress simply because we don’t have the energy or the desire to do anything else. It’s safe. The problem is that it’s only safe for a while – eventually it catches up to you.

I would challenge everyone reading this to look at what they do in a given year and try to identify at least 25% of those things that you’re going to stop doing. I can already hear you saying “Not possible! Everything I do is important!” Get over yourself. The best leaders I’ve met are never short of time. They’re never hurried, they never rush through critical things. They always have plenty of time and energy to get stuff done. If you can’t say that about yourself, you’re doing something wrong.

Stop doing lots of things on a mediocre level and do a few things spectacularly. You’ll never regret it. Start now.



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Showing 2 comments
  • Wayne Lockhart

    Spot on Matt; it’s so easy to get caught up doing the easy work a lot of which is likely to be unnecessary and therefore non-productive.

    • Matt Heemstra

      You’re right about “easy work” – how often do we do things because we’re either stressed or unsure of what to do, so we just fall back into something “easy”, usually without even consciously thinking about it? Too often. Maybe a good goal for the next 90 days – before I start doing anything, stop & think about whether it really matters.

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