“Self-leadership is where all other leadership begins.”—Michael Hyatt
The landscape of our lives is reshaped by what Charles Hummel calls “the tyranny of the urgent.” We answer to an avalanche of demands; phone calls, constant meetings and email stacking up in our inbox. The client wepromised to take to dinner. The fight with our spouse. The many projects that need attention. The list goes on and on.
Under this maddening workload, it’s easy to feel helpless and out of control. Through no fault of your own, you assume it’s just “the way it is” for everyone.
The busy season without end
Life comes at us haphazardly and with great speed. And if we aren’t ready for it, we will waste our days trying to keep all the plates in the air without knowing why we are doing it. Many people end up living this way. They assign things to fate or “seasons” of their life because they don’t have any clear boundaries on what matters.
The famous basketball coach John Wooden once said: “Don’t mistake activity with achievement.”
Wooden knew that even the best leaders can easily mistake spinning their wheels with moving forward, especially as they get lost in a sea of action items.
Restless activity is the hallmark of a life lived by default
You’ll often hear this excuse from people who are living life by default (which is reactionary): “Things need to get done and someone’s got to do them!”
But the issue with catering to urgent, last-minute demands is that you’re spending hours, weeks, if not years at a time operating outside of your primary gifts and potential. And when you abandon steering the ship to put out fires, you’re forfeiting the talent your organization most needs: focused leadership.
It’s not that the other tasks aren’t important, or that they don’t need to get done. It’s understanding that even small tasks can divide and conquer your attention, and the truth is, you can’t lead an organization forward this way.
The difference between making a living and making a life
A life by design (which is intentional) looks much different than living by default. Life by design is proactive, not reactive. Instead of being buffeted by the turbulent winds of the urgent, a leader’s eyes are fixed on the goal of what is truly important and learns to delegate the rest. A leader who cannot relinquish control, or realign priorities to suit present demands is headed for burnout, and fast.
Leaders who don’t delegate tasks outside of their primary giftings will fail. It’s only a matter of time. We aren’t a superhuman breed. Always being available means there aren’t adequate blocks on our schedule for rest, exercise, or family time. We must lay aside our need for validation through our work, and let others take the reins of some things.
True success is always intentional
What pops up today shouldn’t change the trajectory of our goals when we’ve mapped our way to success. Our critical disciplines like exercise, planning, and team building, empower everyone. And we bring our best leadership.
Being intentional is an iterative process of assessing our current state, taking action, building new habits. It’s an exciting process of refinement instead of a downward spiral into stress and discouragement. A life by design happens by intentional action which leads to greater personal and professional success, higher energy, enriched relationships.
How we lead ourselves first will determine how we lead others, and not the other way around. Remember, we model the behaviors, attitudes and mindsets that we want for our employees, and thus, if we want our employees to manage their time wisely, we must take the first step toward change.
To your excellence in making great decisions with your time and talent,