“Fast but calm, focused and consistent; it’s a delicate balance to maintain. A mental space to cherish.” — Innocent Mwatsikesimbe

In the past few weeks, I have spoken with several different leaders who are feeling overwhelmed. It’s easy to get to a place where you start work on one item only to feel a bit (or a lot) stressed about the other dozen things you are not doing.

If you are in this place, I have a leadership mindset exercise for you this morning. The goal is to move a step above the fray of activity and above the stress. To do this, I suggest you answer the following questions:

  1. What are the kinds of work that give you the most energy and gratification?
  2. What on your list of things-to-do provides the best long term benefit to others?

You have a choice to move something forward a mile or many things a few inches.

I suggest moving something forward a mile. From your answers, schedule a block of time for yourself that you will treat as sacred. Having that time today is good, but it can be later this week.

Use that time to move that one thing forward a mile or even two.  

What happens to other things? They are delegated, moved forward a small step, or perhaps even ignored.

Many leaders can see a large number of possible actions and feel an urgency to tackle them all.  Exceptional leaders can see all those possibilities and then prioritize the most meaningful activities above the rest.

I started this practice personally about 20 years ago. Over time, it changed from being a reaction to overwhelm to being a proactive step which allowed me to focus not on activity, but on the value I bring to others.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

You may also like:

2019 is Hereby Deemed the Year of Speed

Once a quarter, I publish a special quarterly edition which as you’ll see is a little longer and has different content than the weekly newsletters. This quarter’s edition announces The Year of Speed!

Always Prepare to Invest in the Next System!

There are a number of headlines recently essentially screaming, “UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEMS ARE BROKEN BECAUSE OF COBOL!”

Amp Up Your Remote Meetings

I have written before about drummers and how crucial they are in setting the pace for band performances.Meetings are the drumline of an organization. They set the beat.


"A strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. that change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end." — Andrew Grover There are a wave of...

Be Neither the Giver or Receiver of Anti-help

There is a lesson about anti-help I learned early in my career.

Building a Bridge Over Troubled Waters Takes Collaboration of Sponsors and Teams

It turned out to be a trainwreck of a meeting.

The project leader had prepared well for the meeting. He had worked hard with his team to create a full plan for the project. They had never prepared a plan in which they were so confident…

Caution. Great Help Can Actually Be Anti-Help.

I was once coaching a leader whose team absolutely adored him…

Changing the Game Attracts Attention

I am working with three different clients on three different initiatives. They are all unique and yet they have one big thing in common. They are all challenging the status quo of how things are done in a fundamental way. They are reaching for a higher bar of excellence.

Clearly Visible Goals Ensure No One Gets Lost

I was running in a city I had not been in before. There was a complex maze of neighborhood streets. However, I found that no matter how many turns I took, I wasn’t disoriented. I could quickly get my bearings, thanks to a singular tree.

Commitment Requires Collaboration

I have seen senior leaders wishing that teams had more commitment to the senior leaders’ objectives. I have seen senior leaders wishing that teams had more commitment to the senior leaders’ objectives and…