Leave Time for Big Opportunities

leave time for big opportunities at workOnce in a while, a big opportunity falls in your lap. It could be an exciting new way to grow your business, improve your professional or personal development, or explore new solutions to company challenges. But if you’re running around doing lots of little tasks, trying to meet many minor obligations, anything “new” and “big” on your plate will feel impossible. That very situation is one that effective leaders have learned to avoid. Delegating or letting go of the trivial many and then focusing on the “vital few,” they control their planning in a much more purposeful way. And doing so frees up the time that’s essential for embracing and excelling in new opportunities.

Leaders who don’t do this often feel like a hamster in a wheel. They’re going, going, going all the time, really getting nowhere new — fast! They often feel trapped, over-worked, deeply responsible for every aspect of the company’s success, and generally bogged down in life and work. To change this situation, it’s essential to recognize that successful leadership is more about working on the business, not for the business. And there are some valuable lessons you can learn related directly to that:

Learn to say “no.” Stop doing or taking on all the little stuff at work and delegate more to your team. If your direct reports “can” do it, then they should do it — as long as they can reasonably do or learn it through training. Meanwhile, your primary job is to focus on duties and activities that directly tie to vital goals and the strategies developed to achieve them. Whenever you’re confronting a task, ask: Can I delegate this? Is this crucial? Does it align to our core goals and their strategies?

Learn the “currency concept.” Every leader has “currency” in the form of time, money, energy and other tangible and non-tangible resources. If you don’t have enough currency, you need more to survive or thrive. But if you do have plenty, you’ve got to be judicious about spending it and, of course, careful about not wasting it. In particular, value your time as currency and understand that you will run out of it if it’s squandered or misspent in any way. You can get more of it by making smart, time-saving decisions (e.g., delegating) or simply refusing not to spend it at all.

Learn how to evaluate an opportunity. This is about disciplining yourself to explore whether it’s really something that fits within your greater goals and strategies or if it’s going to derail all your successes thus far. No matter how tempting the new opportunity might be, they ask the hard, objective questions: Do I have the people? Do I have the money? Do I have the time? Do I have the systems (e.g., technology, machinery, equipment, etc.) in place to make it possible? Does it fit the company’s mission, goals and purpose? Asking the right questions — and answering them honestly — is an essential discipline for evaluating the long-term worth of what might first appear as a “golden” opportunity.

Tell us how you carve out more resources for new opportunities?


​ The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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