Dictate the Situation

By: Leif Babin,

In this insightful DEF Reset Week #2 article, we dive into the concept of Priority and Execution. With so many tasks to get to and not enough time to accomplish them, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Without a plan, you can’t expect to be successful. Even when you plan, things often change, and what you thought was the top priority takes a back seat to a new priority that emerges. You have to remain flexible enough to make adjustments when that happens. Rather than let the situation dictate, you have to dictate the situation. Be proactive. Before bed, write down the things you must accomplish the next day and rank them in order of priority. Then, when you wake up in the morning, you can attack those goals in order of precedence to accomplish them. 

How do you handle multiple problems at the same time? 

When you try and tackle multiple problems at the same time you often end up failing at all of them. The only way to be successful is to focus your energy and effort on the highest-priority problem. Once that gets handled, you can move on to the next priority. We call this Prioritize and Execute

Prioritize and Execute

You have to figure out the highest priority task, focus your efforts and resources there, and then move on to the next priority, then move on the next one. To determine what the highest priority should be, you have to detach. One tool I like to use to help me with this is a whiteboard. When I write down my list of tasks on a whiteboard, it forces me to step back from that list, and from a detached perspective, evaluate their order of strategic importance. Whiteboards are a great tool that can help you in this effort.

Change your perspective

When you detach—when you pull yourself out of the details, it gives you a better perspective on the strategic goals and what is most important. When you step back from your list of tasks, seeing the highest priority task on which to focus your effort becomes much easier. But detachment doesn’t just apply to evaluating which tasks or problems are the highest priority. Detaching also enables you to have a better perspective. When you pull yourself back from the details of a plan, that allows you to see any potential gaps you might have missed in the plan, where you need to vector resources to better support the team, and any likely contingencies for which you should be prepared.

Detachment is a superpower

Most importantly, when you interact with other people, learning to detach from ego and emotions will allow you to deescalate possible situations that otherwise might spin out of control into confrontation. When you learn to detach, especially when you are under pressure to get things done or make decisions, or when your emotions or your ego begin to flair, this enables you to remain calm, deescalate the situation, and focus on the highest priority task or problem, so that you can be successful. The ability to detach and analyze problems without getting rattled is a superpower that will enable you to lead, even when others are freaking out or falling apart. As a result, the people around you will look to you to lead when they are feeling overwhelmed, to the benefit of your team and your mission. That’s what good leadership looks like.

FOR ACTION:

This week, practice detachment so you can evaluate the highest strategic priorities you should focus on. Align these strategic priorities with your daily and weekly task list to ensure you are making progress toward the strategic goals. When you feel overwhelmed, under pressure, or when you feel your emotions or ego flair, practice taking a breath and calming yourself down. Embrace the situation as a training opportunity to practice detachment so you can Prioritize and Execute to accomplish your goals.

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