Thursday, February 21, 2019

Looking at the Time Dimension

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” 

Bill Gates

We can only act in the present moment.

We only have certainty right now.

We can only decide what to do next from where we currently stand.

We can base our decisions on where we want to go in the future.

If I take this next step – will this move me towards or away from my desired destination?

Clarity only exists in the immediate.

I only have certainty that I will perform the next task.

I can plan my to-do list for today. Whether I am successful in crossing anything off may be another story – and that’s OK.

Slightly more challenging is figuring out what I need to get done this week. I can set time aside in my schedule and try to scope the work to fit the time I have. A lot can happen in a week that we don’t expect.

Same thing with the month, the quarter, the year, and other, longer periods of time.

We lose clarity the farther out we go on the time scale.

That’s OK.

More importantly is whether you are headed in the direction you desire and that you are clear on why you are headed in that direction.

As much as we wish that our dreams would manifest instantaneously – creation takes time. Often more time than we would wish.

Life happens, energy fluctuates, we make our estimates based on our best-case scenario with our current environment staying static.

This is why we tend to over-estimate what we can accomplish in a year and under-estimate what we can accomplish in 10 years.

We feel we can get more “done” than we actually can. We over-estimate our time and energy and under-estimate the amount of change in our immediate environment.

However, if we continue to move forward, weaving between the trees and finding the shallow spots in the creeks, we can find ourselves having accomplished more than we ever dreamed of.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Principles vs Decisions

The best leaders in dual-purpose organizations consider their high-level principles sacrosanct but their ground-level decisions provisional. 

Harvard Business Review, “How Companies Can Balance Social Impact and Financial Goals,” January 2019

The benefit of Agile and agility is the flexibility to maneuver based on what is in front of you.

What typically gets lost is the high-level principles in our drive to “be agile.”

Which star are you navigating?

What principles are you using to guide your decisions?

Are those principles strong enough to overcome short-term challenges and pressures?

It’s easy to forget the high-level, long-term principles when faced with short-term challenges that, frequently, surface issues around money and security.

As the authors of the Harvard Business Review article point out, it’s a strategic paradox that needs to be recognized and addressed. Sometimes we have to make choices between our higher purpose and bringing in enough money to pay our bills. I wish that wasn’t the case, but that’s today’s reality.

The things that bring in the most money and gain the most rewards aren’t necessarily (and frequently aren’t) for the highest good. Or YOUR highest good.

The authors recommend putting guardrails in place to help you with decision-making. These guardrails help you keep the long-term, highest good goals and the short-term survival needs in focus.

The process of establishing guardrails invites you to combine seemingly disparate objectives.

How can you continue pursuing what you love while keeping a roof over your head?

Where can you compromise and where is compromise unacceptable?

It requires getting creative. Brainstorming.

Getting very clear on what is important to you and what isn’t.

The guardrails allow you to be more agile. You gain a framework that helps you make decisions as opportunities present themselves and as your environment changes.