Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Word to Freedom

Photo by Dr. Pat

Are you busy?

So busy you feel like you can't accomplish the meaningful things?

Is your team full of activity, but empty of results?

If you're struggling personally or as a team with lots of activity, but little to show for it, I have good news. One word can cut through the fog of busy and begin to help you reclaim your time. It's even a short word:


When activities are piled up and you find yourself struggling to do the things that matter most, you can begin to reduce the load and anxiety by quietly asking yourself, "Why am I doing this?"

You'll discover all sorts of reasons why. Write them down. A starter list of "why's":

"Because it's what I do."
"Because I want that person to like me."
"Because I'm scared what will happen if I don't."
"Because it feels good."
"Because I have to."
"Because it's what everyone else does."
"Because...because...because...umm, why am I doing this?!"
"Because it's important to me - it aligns with my values."
"Because it helps me accomplish my mission."
"Because it keeps me healthy."

For some of these, keep asking "why" until you get to a fundamental answer.

Now, I'm realistic - I won't propose eliminating every activity that doesn't have a "why" you feel 100% good about.

What I will suggest is to prioritize the activities with "why's" that are most important to you. Typically these are behaviors that keep you healthy, help you accomplish your mission, and align with your values. If you start with these activities, you'll find some of the others fade into the background and you soon learn the world doesn't end if you forgo them altogether.

Many new leaders and managers begin by addressing questions of "what" and "how". What shall we do? How will we do it?

Effective leaders and managers start by asking "why". Why should we do this? Why would this be beneficial? Only when the answers to "why" are compelling will they move on to questions of what and how.

A small word. Giant impact.

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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At October 8, 2011 at 10:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog post, David! Reminds me of Jim Collins' "Stop Doing List" from Good to Great:
Enjoying your blogs!
Mike Pritchard

At October 9, 2011 at 7:38 AM , Blogger David M. Dye said...

Thanks, Mike,

That's a great post by Collins. I should be reviewing Good to Great and GtG-Social Sector soon.

Thanks for reading!



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