When I searched for an image for this post, I got all sorts things that portrayed “Fluid Priorities.” Many of the images were medical – how to know someone is hydrated, nursing moms, what do when someone is in shock, etc. I even got images related to oil changes.
This week’s reflection question was: How do you stay focused on the task at hand yet also aware of changing needs – so you can discern and adapt accordingly – all this while staying sane and ensuring you are getting the stuff done that matters?
Here is what I discovered: priorities can be fluid because they need to be – because your client’s needs change or the environment is changing. These are causes for the change that arise in your external environment, outside yourself.
Or priorities can be fluid because there is a cause for the change inside yourself: you are the one who is changing and maybe, perhaps not as clear on what should actually be your priority; you are at the whim of the urgent versus the important; or you are not sure how to respond to the changing environment so you keep trying different things to see what sticks.
When you change the priorities you are focused on, the key question is why? Here are some answers that make sense: the client’s needs change or your goal changed and that item is no longer important. Everything else is noise intended to distract you.
In my own reflection this week, I discovered that a lot of the reasons why my priorities were changing were because of static going on within myself – I wasn’t as clear on what my priorities should be. Sure, I was clear in the big picture sense of the word – delivering on client services first, marketing next and operations last. This works well in the short-term but not the long-term. If my operations suffer long-term eventually it will effect my client’s experience. This prioritized list is also so high level that it doesn’t always give clear criteria for deciding on what to focus at the next level of defining the task.
This question caused me to reassess where I was spending my time everyday; how was I allowing my calendar to run away from me? I questioned what return I was getting from my activities. This process reminded me that busy does not always mean productive or results producing.
Let’s look at the beakers in the image above. We can use these as a metaphor for how we think about priorities. Are they the right shaped container? Do they have the right color liquid in them? How full are they? What needs more liquid? Less liquid? Ultimately the answers all depend on what it is you are trying to achieve. It all starts with achieving clarity on what your goal is and how you can best get there.
So, too, in approaching your work: what resources and supports do you need to hold all that you do? Are you focused on the right goals? What is the tone or attitude you need to accomplish the tasks at hand? Whose help do you need? Where do you need to be aligned in approach and outcome? Where do you need to redistribute some of your energy or focus? How do you know? What are the results you are seeking?
This line of questioning landed me here: A primary focus of my business this year is to grow my executive coaching practice (I have a few spots available!) and to develop an online program to be able to help more people. In service of these two top priorities, I decided that, while personally I love to write and blog, business-wise, the amount of time I spend engaged in this activity is not the best use of my time. I made the difficult decision to, after six months of writing in this format (Magic Mondays and Follow up Fridays), to change what I am doing and how much time I spend on this task. After today, I will be writing once a week on Fridays, highlighting a key topic, question or issue as food for thought to get you reflecting over the weekend and ready for a strong Monday.
This doesn’t mean that I might not occasionally share an interesting article or provocative post. It means, I am not committing to it. I’m giving up one day, so I can redirect my energy in another area of my business.
So, my weekend reflection for you is: What do you need to let go of? Is there some activity you have been actively engaged in for a time that is not giving you the results you need – in terms of clients, dollars or your own peace of mind or satisfaction? Has the environment changed that requires you to redirect your efforts elsewhere? What is the difference for you between experimenting on discovering what clients respond to and aimlessly firing shots in the dark?
At Sage Leadership Strategies, we create the space for you to reflect on your opportunities and challenges. The outcome is greater clarity, ease and confidence in how to best move forward. We are all always in process. We do our own work too, so we can be most present for you.
Please call us for a complimentary discovery session: 203-730-2103.
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