At our firm’s annual retreat, we set our most important goals for the coming year. During one recent retreat, I held up a sign above the list of goals. It said, “No new.” Whenever our internal stakeholders attempted to add a goal to the list, I held up the sign, effectively acting as goalie to block anything else from coming into the net. I didn’t want our firm, our private wealth management firm, to experience another year of “commitment creep,” where the list would grow throughout the year to include more and more goals.
You might be wondering, “Why not try to get more done? If someone has a good idea, why not implement it?”
I’ve learned through personal experience that trying to add too many goals to the list may put our firm at risk of accomplishing none of them. I was once the worst offender on this front. Now my message is simple: commit and complete. Less is truly more.
No matter what size your business is, to stay focused on its goals, you must be crystal clear on your Why—the reason you are in business. In some businesses, this is easy. The Why is obvious. But in many businesses, it is harder to uncover. There may be several potential Whys.
Your work as a leader is to determine your company’s Why and make sure your team is aligned around it. Knowing your Why will help you make the right choices. It will allow you to feed and maintain what I call the Sustainable Edge, where you can run a thriving business while enjoying a meaningful and balanced life built around your passions.
So how do you determine your Why? It starts with the IQ Grower process, described in detail in The Sustainable Edge, my recent book with co-author Scott Ford. In one key exercise, you will identify the six things you value most in life and determine if you are spending your time on them. Another exercise in the IQ Grower process will help you to pinpoint the activities most personally meaningful to you, so you don’t spend time on activities that will mean little to you when you look back at your life. Doing these exercises and the others in the process will help you get clear on your own Why and the Why for your business.
The most important Why lies deep in your subconscious. As Napoleon Hill pointed out in his classic book Think and Grow Rich, for every bit of information in your conscious mind, there are billions of bits in your subconscious mind. The IQ Grower process will help you to source information in your subconscious mind.
When you are clear on your Why, it will be easier to say the three magic words that will prevent you from veering off course: “No, thank you.” The IQ Grower process will help you protect your time – and your team’s – and say no to activities that don’t move the needle on what matters most to you. If you cannot see clearly from the beginning where requests and demands on your time will lead or how they are tied into your big goals, it serves you best to say no to them. Committing to activities that flow from your subconscious is the key to being busy with balance and keeping the Sustainable Edge in your business.