A Millimeter of Progress in a Million Directions

January 26th, 2015 | Posted in Clarity, Effectiveness, Fit Leader, Leadership Fitness, Reading List, success by

Are you stretched too thin?

Are you majoring in minor activities; busy but not productive; or always in motion and never getting anywhere?

Many of us are making a millimeter of progress in a million directions.

Lin Yutang, the Chinese writer and inventor, and the author of The Importance of Living, used to say, “the wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials”.

In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown encourages us to live by design and not by default, and to “distinguish the vital few from the trivial many”.

McKeown points out that the basic value proposition of Essentialism is simple: “Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter”.

The antidote to non-essentialism is remaining in control of our choices and our priorities.

If we don’t make the effort to prioritize our lives, someone else will rise to the occasion and do this for us.

Perhaps our new mantra should be: I can do anything but not everything.

Jim Collins, in How the Mighty Fall, writes about how “the undisciplined pursuit of more” is a key reason for the failure of many companies he studied.

Even Joseph Juran, who in 1951 wrote the Quality Control Handbook, referred to the inevitable need to make tradeoffs in our personal and professional lives. He referred to this as “the law of the Vital Few”.

As we focus in on our goals for the New Year, we might decide to “uncommit” a little more frequently and to become more comfortable with saying “no”.

After all, the Latin root of the word decision – cis – literally means “to cut”. Scissors, anyone?

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