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Posted by on Sep 20, 2012 in Leadership | 4 comments

Many Competing Priorities?  Why rigid time-management will NEVER bring “balance” to your life

Many Competing Priorities? Why rigid time-management will NEVER bring “balance” to your life

Several times in my life I’ve attempted to sit down and write out an ideal weekly schedule to live by…divided into 15min increments.  You know the drill…Monday: wake-up, read the Bible, pray, make breakfast, eat breakfast…  It was as if life was a weight-balance scale and if I could arrange all the competing priorities perfectly my life would have perfect balance.  Yet, every time I developed the perfect schedule I was never able to execute.

Here’s the problem I discovered.  Those weights…those competing priorities…they don’t weigh the same from week to week, or even day-to-day.  Wives get pregnant (how does that happen?).  Children develop bad habits that have to be addressed (another mystery).  Projects have deadlines.  Relationships have needy moments.  The weight of each of these competing priorities is constantly shifting.  You can’t expect to set a balanced scale and never tend it again.  To have constant balance, your scale must be adjustable.

Here are a two ideas to help your time-management system respond to this reality:

1.) Do your daily-planning…weekly: Many people develop a daily task list.  That’s a wonderful tool, but it doesn’t allow for big-picture thinking.  With many competing priorities, you’ll need to set aside a time each week to reflect on which priorities need your attention and when you’re going to be able to focus on them.  With daily planning alone, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really important.  Here are some important components of your weekly planning session:

  • THINK.  Rigid time-management systems tell us where to be when so we don’t have to think about it.  But your weekly planning should have thinking time built-in so you can use common sense to help balance your life.  Family doing great, but you’re about to lose your job because of your performance?  I might get crucified for saying this, but maybe you should drop family movie night and work late on Thursday!
  • VALUES.  Use your weekly planning time to remind yourself of what’s important to you.  Make sure your time-management choices reflect those values.  There is nothing that will drive you more insane than knowing that you’re not living by your values.
  • RELATIONSHIPS.  Don’t just think in tasks.  Think in relationships.  Do you have a list of relationships that are most important to you?  Look at each person on your list and ask yourself what you would need to do this week to enhance that relationship.  Then, schedule it in.
  • BIG PROJECTS.  Most really important things can’t be accomplished in a day…or even in a week.  Break that big project down and ask yourself what you need to accomplish this week to move things forward.
  • TASKS.  There are always little things that have to get thrown in.  Schedule a few of these each day and knock them out after you finish your big items.

2.) Look for Opportunities and jump on them (be flexible): Another problem with rigid time-management systems is that we don’t know everything.  If we knew everything that was going to happen in our lives and in the lives of people around us, maybe we could build a schedule that would make the most of every opportunity.  Reality, though, is that unknown opportunities spring up everyday that can help us advance our professional and relational goals.  (i.e. – Thursday isn’t my day to pick the kids up from school, but it looks like I will win some real relational points with my wife if I can go pick them up today.  A minor adjustment to my routine and a great relational win!) If we look for those and respond to them, we can take full advantage of each day.  We must be willing to deviate from our schedule to jump on the unexpected.

Do you have competing priorities?  How do you manage it all?

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Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in Leadership | 2 comments

Defining Reality: A Powerful Leadership Tool You May Be Overlooking

Defining Reality: A Powerful Leadership Tool You May Be Overlooking

Everyone knows that one of a leader’s greatest responsibilities is to communicate a clear and compelling vision for the future.  However, there is a very powerful leadership responsibility that is often overlooked: defining the present reality.

There are hundreds of ways for the people in your organization or team to interpret the reality they work in.  Some will compare your organization with other organizations.  Some will judge based off some glorious past.  Some will go by their feelings or personal situation.  Left to chance, each person will have a different interpretation of where the team is.

Even if you’re able to communicate a compelling vision of the future, you’ll never find agreement on a pathway to get there.  Each person would start from a different point to reach the agreed upon destination.  A great leader must find a way to not only show people a glorious future, but to define the starting point.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality” Max De Pree

Here’s an idea for making the most of this leadership tool:

Define Reality in the context of where you’re going: The Vision should be the point of comparison that defines your present reality.  Any other measure is less powerful and potentially distracting for your team.

Ex: Your organization probably has all sorts of problems.  Part of defining the present reality is choosing which ones are BIG problems and which ones really don’t need that much focus.  You can’t FOCUS on everything at once.  Use your leadership influence to highlight the problems that stand in the way of the vision and downplay the problems that don’t.

Comparisons with the past, other organizations, and industry best practices can be helpful analysis, but they are not a powerful leadership tool until they are brought into the context of a vision for the future.  An intentionally defined present reality that is communicated in the context of a compelling vision will bring a great alignment and focus to your team.

What other ways could you use defining the present reality as a leadership tool?

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Posted by on Jul 26, 2012 in Leadership | 0 comments

Leadership#Fail – Great Leadership Invests in the Next Generation

Your leadership accomplishments will be for nothing if you don’t reach a new generation.  This short video will challenge you to invest in a new generation and to keep your commitment to the vision strong…to the very end.

Recommended Reading: 1 Kings 11

[youtube http://youtu.be/NpN1FbiCqIk]

Questions for Discussion:

1.) What young people are around you that you can start investing in?

2.) What can you do now to make sure you remain a strong leader…even in your old age?

Go Back to Leadership#Fail

Go to Next Video – Final

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Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 in Leadership | 0 comments

Leadership#Fail – How to grow your leadership influence

It’s OK to have ambition when it comes to leadership.  But there is a right way to go about it and a wrong way to go about it.  This short video will encourage you to grow your leadership influence the way God intended.

Recommended Reading: 2 Samuel 15-18

[youtube http://youtu.be/-EXN72PJ90c]

Questions for Discussion:

1.) What leadership positions do you aspire to?

2.) What’s in your hand to do now?  What influence can you currently be faithful with?

3.) How could you honor someone in authority today?

Go back to Leadership#Fail

Go to Next Video – “Great Leadership Invests in the Next Generation”

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