Doing The Work

How To Get Clear On Priorities

Getting clear about what you are are doing and where you are going is incredibly valuable and important. It’s also very challenging to do. The greater your ambition, the longer the list of things that you dream of getting done. The more that you care about delivering quality results, the more essential it is to get focused about where you invest your effort and attention. That involves difficult choices that most of us very` often don’t like acknowledging, let alone actually making.



Make Choices

You’ve decided upon your stated direction. You have committed to the attainment of one or two strategic priorities that will most move you forward. And then an opportunity presents itself; a door opens with an interesting and exciting opportunity you didn’t know existed. Is this opportunity a meaningful new option or merely a shiny new distraction? These are the choices that we have to make as we navigate towards the future we most value.



Know Where You Are Going

It’s all well and good to say that we should dig deep, commit to learning and move forward with intention. But move forward where? What are we trying to accomplish? What goal are we really trying to bring to life. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us are wandering around with dozens of partly-formed dreams, ambitions and aspirations that hope our future self will get around to bringing to fruition. Continuing to push those ideas past the horizon into the future makes that realization unlikely. It doesn’t have to be that way.



Have Intention

Acting with intention is an interesting notion. Intention—our ability to choose our response and act upon it—is our unique gift as human beings. We don’t just react, but can instead choose to act. The challenge is that we don’t always do so, and there are several ways that we undermine our ability to act and to exercise the agency that we theoretically enjoy. Understanding what compromises our intention, and knowing how to overcome those impulses, is essential to being able to take the steps that we most value.



Accept Discomfort

Personal growth and development is not a cakewalk. Whether you have chosen the path—or had it inflicted upon you—embarking on change is complicated, stressful, angst-ridden and uncomfortable. It is the liminal journey come to life, although it doesn’t make it any easier to accept or process. For all the theoretical merits of changing, you are going to feel adrift, challenged and very likely incompetent. The desire to retreat to a safe and familiar place is going to be tempting. Nonetheless, there are strategies to make it through to the other side.



Immerse In Learning

Your approach and appetite for learning says a great deal about who you are and how you approach your work and your life. We often view success as being defined by accomplishment—work done, status attained and accomplishment realized. In reality, much of satisfaction comes from actually doing the work, immersing yourself in experiences and challenges and formulating ways to realize accomplishment. Nowhere is this more true than in situations where success requires learning and growth.



Go Deep

Immersing ourselves in a challenge is one of the great joys of work. Finding situations that engage and stretch our abilities, and completing them successfully, can be a huge source of joy and inspiration. Despite this, it is easy to fall into ruts and fall back on routines. The creative solution that we critically engaged ourselves to find yesterday becomes the default and unthinking response today. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are strategies available to find engagement and inspiration, even in the most familiar of circumstances.



Thinking Out Loud

I write a lot. That is an unavoidable truth. I’ve been putting my thoughts on this site on a mostly-weekly basis for several years now. While having an audience is valuable—and I’m grateful for the feedback that I do receive from readers—in many ways the person that I am most writing for is myself. I write to think, and I think to learn. Sometimes what I have to say surprises me as much as it might stimulate thought for someone else. And that is entirely the point.



Walking The Razor’s Edge

Much is made of the value of stretch goals. Managers love them, consultants pontificate about them and employees are victimized by them. There is irony in stretch goals, also. Those those people and organizations that are best able to leverage stretch goals often don’t. What constitutes “stretch” is variable, and varies for each of us. They are not necessarily attainable, at times they aren’t even reasonable, and in all instances we are walking the razor’s edge between success and failure. We need to be okay with that. Especially now.



You Are As Ready As You Will Ever Be

There is procrastination, and then there is procrastination. One of the most insidious forms is, “I need to do this first, to get ready.” Theoretically, this is all productive work. It is us getting prepared and focussed. We are making sure we have our ducks in a row, and we are committed, ready and able to do our best work. Practically, we are in many ways avoiding the thing that we say we want to do most. It doesn’t have to be that way.