Monthly Archives: April 2016

3 Keys to Prioritising

Each of know that in order to achieve anything with the limited resources that we are faced with, there is a need to prioritise.   It is always important to know that we can’t do everything or make everyone happy.  We need to choose which comes first or the best way to balance all that is important.  The balance that we achieve will be based on how we define what is important and therefore how we prioritise them in light of the parameters or resources before us.

We constantly need to prioritise:

  • What resources to use and not use
  • Who comes first
  • When does it happen
  • How it takes place

And so on.

And in all that we are limited by:

  • Energy:  How much energy do we have?  How much energy do we need to expand to achieve a goal?  Personally I think that energy is more important than time.  The reason for that is, energy helps with focus and concentration.  If we are able to perform a certain complex task when our energy level is high, we will most probably get  it done with better quality as compared to when our energy level is low.  Imagine doing complex problem solving when you are tired.  I doubt that the result will be a great solution.   Therefore it is important to know when in the day your energy level is at it’s peak, and do the complex and tough task then.
  • Time:  Time is well discussed and every one of us know the limitation of time.  However, time is only useful if we use it smartly.  If we are able to prioritise time wisely e.g spend the most time on the key or big things, then we are able to utilise it fully.  If we spend all our time on the small and menial ones, we will feel busy but probably not be able to accomplish anything of significance.
  • Skills:  Each of us has skills or strengths that we are blessed with.  Trying to accomplish something that you are not strong in, will take a lot of energy and time.  All of which may not necessarily give you great results.  It is best to acknowledge what you are good at and get help on areas that you are not good at.  Get help from someone whose strength is in a certain area to  help you and as a team accomplish great results.  With limited energy and time, prioritise areas where you are great in and focus on that.
  • Pride:  There is a certain limiting factor with pride.  Each of us having the desire or fantasy to believe that we can do it all and make it on our own.  The reality is very different.  Each of us are dependent on someone to help us be better. It is because each of us has our weaknesses that will hinder our goal of perfection.  No one has all the skills and strengths and without any weaknesses.  Once we recognise that we can’t achieve greatness on our own, pride takes a different place.  We are all meant to work in a team environment which means different people with different skills level and together will provide great results when each is working based on his/her strengths.

The 3 keys to prioritising are :

  1.  Know the “Highs”:  You will need to know the following:
      • Love:  What do you love doing?  Who do you love?  Knowing what you enjoy and are passionate in doing gives you purpose.  Know who you love or who you are working for gives you satisfaction.
      • Energy:  Focus and attention span.  Know when you are the most alert, when your mind is most creative and attentive, when is your physical energy the highest and how to increase that level.  Understanding your energy level will help you to know when in the day to perform complex and routine task.  Schedule your task accordingly.
      • Strengths and Talents:  Uncover what you are really good at.  Your skills will come out clearly when you can do something effortless and with great enjoyment.  Focus on areas that you are good at and make it even better.  If you have no talent in drawing, you can put the effort and maybe be an average artist, but wouldn’t it better to spend the time to be great singer if singing is where your talent lies.

2.  Control vs. Influence:   Know when it is something that you are directly responsible for or am in control of vs. on an area that you are hoping to influence through people.  You will need to influence others to do their job or perform their role, you can even hold them accountable but you can’t truly control what and how they do it.  As each are different, the what and how is really up to the individual, all we should focus on is the result once everyone performs their role to accomplish a task.  Don’t sweat the stuff that you can’t control.

3.  Focus on the Big Picture:  Be clear on the goal.  What is the vision?  There can be many different strategies and action plans to achieve a goal.  There will be disappointments, challenges and even rejections and we should expect that.  No action plan will be 100% successful.  It is therefore critical to know what the big picture is.  By focusing on the big picture, the challenges along the way are just experiences and learnings that you gain to know what not to do.  There are still a lots of opportunities and new ways to try out.  As they say, look at the forest and not just the leaves.

Work with what you have and not what you wish you had.  There is a reason each of us has energy, time and skills.  We can increase our energy level through exercise and of course caffeine.  We can improve our skills by developing it through training and applications.  We can even maximise time by doing the important and critical task.  Each of those resources can be enhanced and improved further through conscious effort.  You can only do that once you are able to prioritise what you want to improve and achieve.

Know your dislikes, but do you know what you want to do?

It is very easy to know what I don’t like or don’t enjoy doing.  I don’t like mundane activities, processes that does not meet my standards of common sense, a manager who does not value add to my role and the list goes on and on.  It does not take any effort on my part to pin point what’s wrong and negative.  It does not take any effort to criticize the leaders in my organisation for their strategies or approach.  However, when the questions are rephrase as

  • “What do you like to do?”
  • “What solutions would you propose to solve a problem?”
  • “How would you do it differently if you had these 4 parameters and constraints to work within?”

What is your response?

When the tables are turned, and we are now in the position of having to come up with the solutions or answers, how would we handle the criticisms?

During any performance review or career discussion, one of the hardest topic of discussion is around “What does an employee want to do or enjoy doing or am passionate about?”  Most of the time, we know what we don’t want to do but very seldom do we know what we really want to do.  Without knowing the answer to what we really want to do will cause a number of issues such as:

  • Going in circles:  Moving from role to role hoping to find a role that you will enjoy doing.
  • Disappointments:   Disappointments are just around the corner because it is just easy to spot the negatives vs. the positives.  As you are unable to find what you like to do, expectations will take a hit and you will naturally feel disappointed.
  • Demotivation sets in:  Struggling to find an area that you enjoy or are passionate about will bring cause you to lose motivation to do the role that you are in.  One of the most common work plague is demotivation and it is contagious.  When one person is demotivated, everyone around will know it both from the words and actions.
  • Indifference:  At the end of the disappointment and demotivation journey, the attitude that will be born is Indifference.  It just does not matter.  It does not matter when I do a great job or not.  I will just do what I am paid to do.  Strive no more because what’s the point.

None of those attributes would be used to describe a satisfied and productive person.  If you find yourself in anyone of those category above, it may be time to take stock and uncover what it is that you want and enjoy doing.

Let’s start by asking yourself some foundational questions:

  • What are my values?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What is your life purpose?
  • What are my past achievements that I am proud of?
  • What type of role brings out the best in me?
  • What environment would bring out the best in me?
  • What drives or motivates me to get out of bed to achieve?

It might seem hard to even answer the first question but it is worth your while to do so.  It is hard to find alignment between what your values are and the role that you do if you don’t know either one of the answer to the equation.

I would encourage you to take the time to reflect and know for yourself especially alignment with your values and what you do as that’s one critical key in unlocking living out your potential.  This might be a hard task to take on your own, find a coach, a mentor, a friend, someone who is able to challenge you and keep you accountable.

6 ways to live Up to Your Potential

Potential, that’s term that we commonly hear.  Whether we are talking about a child or an employee or about you.  Questions are abound and it goes something like this:

  • What is your potential?
  • How do you know if you are living up to your potential?
  • How do you know if you have maxed out on your potential?
  • What can you do to develop your potential?

No doubt that these questions have been asked and you may have also come up with some answers of your own.  Some common answers would be

  • “I don’t know what my potential is?”
  • “I feel like I have reached the pinnacle of my potential.”
  • “I don’t want to know.”
  • “I am afraid to challenge myself.”

Is there a way for you and me to know for sure?  The first step is to know and understand what potential is and is not.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, potential is “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

Therefore potential is about:

  • An ability or skill or talent that you have and have demonstrated it in some behaviour or action.
  • It can be develop further, not stagnant and can grow and increase with usage and time.
  • It is forward looking.  It continues to grow if it is continuously being developed.
  • It is “alive”, waiting to be realised and desiring to grow.
  • Prospect of and for greater success.
  • There is always room for improvement.

Conversely potential is not about:

  • One time experience or achievement.
  • It is not past tense.
  • Being contented with where you are at.
  • Hiding it or putting a lid on your strengths or skills.

What can we do to living out our potential?  There are 6 ways to ensure that we live out and up to our potential:

  1. Forward Looking:  It is about the next step, the next milestone, the next goal, the next area of growth, always asking the question of “What’s Next?”.  It is forgetting what is behind or in the past, and striving to move forward with the aim of doing and being better.
  2. Say “Yes” to Challenges and “No” to Fear.  Growth only comes when there is resistance and challenges to be faced and overcome.  When an opportunity arises to push your skills or abilities further, take it on.  No matter what we do, there will always be fear involved.  No one goes through life without feeling fearful, but the one who overcomes fear will always come out of it having grown and learnt more than expected.
  3. Keep on keeping on.  When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.  It is all about perseverance and determination.  Once you have committed to a certain goal, be focus and stay the course.  It is easy to give up half way or even right before the end, and we all know the regret that comes from it.  It is with those past experience that should help us to remember that there is always a positive outcome if we never give up.  There is always experiences to be gained.
  4. Belief.  You must have the belief that this is the path that want to take.  You must believe that this is your purpose.  You must believe that this is your calling.  Belief is important to keep you keeping on.
  5. Vision of the outcome can be very different from how you start out. What you start out with may look very different from how it ends up.  There are those who are able to achieve exactly what they set out to.  Most of us will find that the achievements are different from what had envisioned.  However, it is always satisfying if it’s the working out of our potential.
  6. It is Not solely about the achievement but about Maturing.  
    • skills and abilities
    • emotional and mental maturity.

 

 

 

Where are you in the journey of living out your potential?  What would you do differently?  Where do you see your potential taking you?  What is holding you back?  What would propel you forward?

Potential is all about the future.  Don’t let the past failure or setback put a full stop on your potential.  Focus on the future and just how bright and promising it can be.