Leaders Just Do It

fastslowmotion_doitArt Williams got it right back in 1986.  Check out a snippet from his famous “Do It” speech below.

It’s one month into 2015 and I’m sure you had a lot of resolutions and plans to start the year.  Have you already given up on the resolutions you set just a few days ago?

Keep fighting.  Keep getting better.  Keep building your company.  Keep starting new companies.  Keep selling.  Keep delivering.  Keep mentoring.  Keep leading.  Keep striving for excellence.  Just do it!  It’s worth it! (more…)

The Importance of Why

why_400I recently re-watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk entitled How Great Leaders Inspire Action.  It reminded me how often we forget the importance of the question “Why.”   Why did we start this business?  Why do we do what we do?  Why did I choose this career?  Why do I work so hard everyday?  WHY?

Take a few minutes and watch Simon’s talk:

Starting and running a business is one of the most difficult, yet most fulfilling, adventures in the world.  It’s a roller coaster ride of high highs and very low lows.  If you don’t know your purpose, you’ll quickly get lost and likely fail.  It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the “What” or “How,” and neglect the “Why.”  The “Why” is our foundation.  It is our moral compass.  It should be the basis of all decisions.  Companies without an understanding of “Why” aren’t sustainable businesses.  Leaders that don’t have a purpose aren’t leaders – they are followers.

Most of us get lost along the way.  We get distracted with the day-to-day.  We start existing instead of living.  The same thing happens in business.  We get caught up in the motions and stop fulfilling our purpose.  If the business doesn’t know its purpose, it’s impossible for the employees to fulfill its mission.  Instead, the business meanders and never reaches its potential.  Don’t fall into this trap.  Today you can decide to reset.  Re-establish your “Why.”  Make the “Why” the focus of your business.  Make decisions based on your “Why.”  Be intentional about your company and don’t compromise.

There’s tremendous freedom in understanding your “Why.”  You will have a clear purpose and reason for existing.  Build your company with intention.  Otherwise, you’ll end up building an organization that you despise, that has no purpose, and is doomed for eventual failure.  Focus on the “Why” each an every day.  Ingrain it in your culture.  Constantly remind your employees, customers, and partners why you do what you do.  Companies that understand their purpose and live it out daily create real market value and make a true impact on everyone they interact with.  These unique companies are the ones we remember.  They make a long-term impact in the lives of their employees and customers.  These companies truly enjoy the ride and don’t need to reach the next destination in order to receive fulfillment.  Build a “Why” company, not a “What” company.

A Cure for Emailoholism

checkingemail_400I’m addicted to constantly checking my email.  I want to stop, but I can’t.  I think it’s mostly driven by fear.  I’m afraid of missing something important.  I’m afraid of missing out on an opportunity.  I justify my condition by telling myself that I am known for being responsive and available.  Responsiveness is one of my differentiators.  Being available and responsive goes a long way in today’s business world.  My clients and colleagues know that I’m always available and they appreciate it.  However, I take it way too far.

Constantly checking email is killing my productivity, increasing my stress level, and preventing me from ever having true downtime.  I can’t live in the moment because I’m constantly thinking about what I’m potentially missing.  A major side effect is that I can’t focus on one activity for more than a few minutes without being distracted.

I have a feeling that I’m not the only one out there with this same problem.  Just take a moment and look around.  You’ll see that everyone has their head down checking email, looking at social media, browsing the web, or texting.  Most of us can’t take a 10 minute drive without checking our phone every time we come to a stop.  Next time you eat out, look at how many people are looking at their phone instead of interacting with the person in front of them.

I’ve tried to stop constantly checking email in the past, especially after re-reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (it’s a great book that I highly recommend you read).  It would work for a few days, but I always fell back into my old habits.  What’s different this time?

  1. I predecided that I’m going to change my behavior and live with the consequences.  If  I miss out on something, then so be it.  To me, the consequences of the path I’m on now are far worse than potentially missing out on a business opportunity because I responded within 8 hours instead of 8 minutes.  I’d rather enjoy my life and the people that matter most than constantly worrying about what’s going on in the world of email or social media.
  2. I started using a tool called Batched Inbox.  I highly recommend it.  It’s free and easy to setup.  It prevents me from seeing new emails in real-time by batching my emails to me 3 times a day (the intervals and times are configurable).  Since I don’t see new emails in real time (or the notifications), I can focus on getting real work done and dedicating my attention to more important things.  I can see old emails and send new emails without the distraction of emails that are coming in.  I’ve tried solutions in the past that simply hide email notifications and alerts.  Yes, I can sneak a peek at the emails when I’m at my computer (they are stored in a hidden folder and are moved to the Inbox via the schedule you setup), but I predecided I wanted to change so I’m not very tempted.  It’s just a tool, but seems to work well for me.  I’m really enjoying all the extra time I have now to focus on getting meaningful work done so I’m motivated not to cheat the system.
  3. I wrote this post to help others with the same problem and provide another level of accountability for me as well.  Next time you see me, ask how I’m doing.  Hopefully, I’ll still only be checking email 3 times per day.

I haven’t told anyone, until now, that I’m not checking email all of the time.  Guess what?  Nobody has noticed yet.  So far, I feel like everyone still thinks I’m very responsive and easily accessible.  I’m still very responsive as I’m able to reply to all emails within a 4 to 12 hour period (which is more than acceptable).  I’m also training people how to interact with me in a way that works best for me.  They’ll learn that they can’t email me for urgent issues.  Instead, they will call or text when they need something urgent.  I’m finding that most things aren’t really urgent and I provide better responses when I’m not constantly trying to keep my inbox clean.

Predecide

predecide_400Life, for most of us, is hectic and crazy.  There’s constant pressure at work and at home.  It seems impossible to catch up.  We all wear multiple hats, constantly multitask, and live with little margin.  From time to time, we try to address the problem by resetting, de-cluttering, and re-prioritizing.  While this works for a short time, we often find ourselves back where we were – dominated by busyness, stressed to the max, and suffering from lack of joy and peace.

Want to stop being a slave to life?  One helpful solution lies in the power of predecision.  John Wooden put it best, “When the opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.”

You have to predecide how you will respond before you are in the middle of a circumstance.  This principle applies not only to business, but to all aspects of your life.  You can’t wait until you are faced with a tough decision whether or not you’re going to tell that little innocuous white lie.  It’s too easy to compromise when your stress level is high and things aren’t going as planned.  You can’t make the decision whether or not to cut out early to catch your son’s ballgame 30 minutes before the game.  Something will inevitably come up and you’ll miss the game (again).  You have to predecide beforehand when you are thinking clearly with wisdom.  You have to live life intentionally.  You have to set the standards and rules you want to live by before the situation arises.

The lack of predecision is a massive problem in our society.  It’s how smart, good people end up making really bad decisions.  It’s how fathers wake up one day and realize they missed their kids growing up.  It’s why most marriages fail.  It’s why many of us are in debt.  It’s why most businesses suffer.

Predecide how you are going to respond when difficult situations arise.  Predecide the type of person you are going to be.  Predecide the type of business you are going to build.  Predecide that your marriage is worth more than your business.  Predecide that having a meaningful relationship with your kids is more important than your career.  Predecide that your employees are more important than closing that lucrative deal with a business partner you know is not the right fit.  Predecide so you make wise decisions and have no regrets!

Andy Stanley does a great job of outlining this concept in one of his Leadership Podcasts called A New You Resolution.

Predecide what you want your legacy to be.  Take the next step.  Predecide now.