In this 21 part series, based on John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I’m taking you on a journey towards better leadership. I share with you my own leadership lessons and insights. As a John Maxwell Team Member I’ll be happy to deliver transformational leadership training for your team or organization. See the details below.
Part 17 of 21: The Law of Priorities
The Law of Priorities: Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment. ~ John C. Maxwell
Most of the people out there are simply busy. They run around like chicken without the head trying to get the stuff done. To their own surprise, the more they get done, the more stuff that needs to be done appears. It’s kind of frustrating. It feels like you climb over one mountain just to find another one. And then another one.
You might be in this situation where you aren’t sure anymore whether you want to keep running in circles.
Or you might be in the situation where you tap into excuses to keep on going in this direction – to please others around you, to prove something to yourself or to add another trophy to your collection.
There’s another group of people. This group have simply given up. They no longer try. They’re tired of proving something to themselves or others.
No matter what group you’re in, the Law of Prioritization is for you.
First lesson that you need to ‘get’ is that busyness doesn’t equal productivity. Activity is not accomplishment.Busyness doesn't equal productivity. Activity is not accomplishment. Click To Tweet
Second, in order to choose the right things to work on, you need to have a vision and understand what’s next. This isn’t easy. You need to start being intentional about constantly reviewing where you’re going, what’s going on, where you need to direct your focus and then align all of these pieces into an action plan.
Third, prioritizing will cause you to do things that are uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. Once you implement this law into your daily routine, you will discover that to move ahead, you need to improve, step out of your comfort zone, change some of your habits and do what it takes to get the right things done.
One of my favorite movies is Matrix. There is one scene in the movie when Neo comes to visit Oracle and there’s this boy in the room who is bending the spoon. ‘There is no spoon,’ he says. Here’s the scene for you…
I like to use the above example when I look at boxes people put themselves into. There actually is no box. It’s just you. You need to either reinvent the box or get rid of it. This is how my parents did it, this is how we’ve always been doing it, this is how I’ve always done it, this used to work before or this is what works for them are the boxes. What you read in the books or heard about in the time management seminars is the box. Get rid of the box!
You and your unique strengths is YOU. It doesn’t matter what works for others or what used to work in the past. What matters is who you are and what will work for you. What is important for you? Choose to do things YOUR way!
There are 3 Rs that play a role when it comes to the Law of Priority.
We are all accountable to somebody for the work we do – an employer, the government, clients, and so on. We also have responsibility for the important people in our lives, like spouse, parents, children. Any list of priorities must start with what is required from us. The question is, What must I do that nobody can or should do for me?
Here’s how to use it. If you’re doing something that’s not necessary, you should eliminate it. If you’re doing something that’s necessary but not required of you personally, you should delegate it. The longer you use the Law of Priorities, the shorter your Requirement list should be.As a leader, your list of requirements must start with what is required from YOU. Click To Tweet
As a leader, you should spend most of your time working in your areas of greatest strength. I’m not saying that you don’t need to get out of your comfort zone. You do. But you have to do it within your area of strength. A great gymnast should be focusing on gymnastics, not trying to improve hockey skills. Makes sense?Spend most of your time working in the areas of your strengths. Click To Tweet
I believe you’ve heard about 80/20 rule. Basically it says that 80% of your activities will create 20% of your results and 20% of your activities create 80% of your results. The key is to identify 20% of your activities that bring you the highest return on investment. Then get rid of or delegate the rest. But let’s take this principle even further. If there’s something on your list that can be done at least 80% as well by someone else, hand it to them. Once they learn it and improve, they might be able to do it better and faster than yourself.
It’s important to keep in mind that just because you CAN do something does not mean that you SHOULD do it. Remember, activity is not necessarily accomplishment.
This final question relates to personal satisfaction. Life is too short not to do some things you love. I love reading, training and empowering others. I also enjoy improving systems and overall performance. Another joy of my life is to spend time with my family. I love to travel and connect with people (not too often though as I value my alone time). All of these things fuel my tank. They energize me and keep me passionate about what I do. And passion keeps me going.
To master this law, you need to understand yourself and your unique strengths. My absolute favorite assessment for this is Kolbe. Unlike other assessments, Kolbe strips down cognitive (knowledge, experience) and affective (personality, weaknesses) areas and reveals your conative area, how you take action. This should be your first step.
Next, you need to prioritize your tasks, 3 steps are listed above. Once you understand what your focus is, you will be able to prioritize your to do list and make things happen faster. The best leaders are able to satisfy multiple priorities with each activity, which enables them to increase their focus while reducing their number of actions. This might be easier journey for some and harder for others. No matter where you are, keep in mind that the Law of Priorities has the power to boost your performance, whether you’re part of the team or you work by yourself.
Are you ready to improve as a leader? If your answer is yes, I’d be honored to help you on this journey.
To improve as a leader, join my Impact Academy, where I work with individuals from around the globe helping them to improve their leadership and results.
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This article is part of a 21-part leadership series.
To your success,
PS: To gain even more insights into leadership, get a complimentary access to my Leadership Breakthrough eCourse below.