Preparing VS procrastinating
Coaching involves bringing out God’s best in people and the ministries they oversee. As leaders, we often sabotage our best intentions and fail to achieve our desired results. Three questions I often raise during coaching sessions when there has been less progress than I anticipated include:
- Are you living out of your commitments or your excuses? A coach’s task is to call forth new possibilities that lead to transformed lives and ministries which always require new ways of being, doing and seeing. It’s easy to rationalize behaviors when we don’t succeed as hoped but it’s not helpful. First of all, our commitments must be sufficiently compelling that we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve our desired results. I often ask the people I coach, “What are you willing to give up to make this happen?” or “What will you need to say no to in order to honor this commitment?”
- Are you doing what matters most? Or plans are often derailed when we turn out attention away from the vital few and seek to address the trivial many. If you have more that three initiatives you’re working on right now, you’re probably majoring in mediocrity. Jim Collins reminds us that “good is the enemy of great.” Are you working on too many good projects that you don’t have sufficient time what will the one thing that matters most? Ask yourself, “What is my highest point of contribution?” When we emphasize everything we emphasize nothing. Do less but go deeper by only doing what really matters.
- Are you preparing or procrastinating? Thoughtful and prayerful preparation lays the foundation for effective and rapid execution but it can also become a hindrance for not moving forward. I used to go fishing with a fellow that spent more time organizing his fishing poles and tackle than actually putting a line in the water. I see many committees fail to act or decide due by gathering more data than what’s actually needed to make an informed decision. I see leaders spend more time organizing their desks and their computer files than addressing essential tasks. I see leader dance around difficult issues and delay important decisions that only become more challenging the longer they’re put off. Excessive preparation can become a strategy for avoiding the hard work of deciding, doing or engaging in difficult conversations.
I’ve noticed that highly productive people seem to manage three things exceedingly well:
- What they pay attention to: These individuals have identified the big rocks in their life and ministry and pay attention to their results, their next steps, and what course corrections might be needed. They often review and reflect on these items several times throughout the day and are the subject of their conversations.
- The decisions they’re making throughout the day: The decisions they make reflect their purpose and priorities in life. Their decision reflect what’s most important rather than what’s most urgent. They make informed choices, saying “yes” to activities that move them closer to fulfilling their purpose and priorities. They give themselves permission to opt out of meetings, social obligations, travel time and miscellaneous projects that diffuse their efforts. They make profound and powerful decisions on a daily basis rather than making decisions by default, .
- How they manage their energy: They realize that managing one’s energy is just as important as managing one’s a time. They do thing that increase their energy such as sleeping more, getting exercise, tackling tough projects early in the day, and spending time with positive, productive “nutritious” people. They reduce their energy outflow by reducing travel items, the number of decisions they need to make, and by dealing with conflict and difficult issues as they arise.
Do you have a bias for action? Do you focus on what matters most? What gets in the way of doing your best work each and every day?