Three years ago we became the proud owners of (my first ever pet) our cat, Fox. He's brought me a lot of joy, but loads of lessons too. I wanted to share one with you as I sit here looking across the room at him.
I think you'll enjoy it whether you're a pet owner or not. But first watch this hilarious video on YouTube that exemplifies my point so poignantly.
Lesson #1: Prioritise What's Important
We feed Fox twice a day, he goes to the litter tray twice a day, he drinks water, and loads of it, throughout the day. OK so that's his priorities.
If I want to play with him, he will not permit me to do so in any of his times of 'PRIORITY'. Period.
So how comes my cat has his priorities straight, and as entrepreneurs we, too often, allow our priorities to be skewed by the latest urgencies?
Personally I have multiple businesses around the world, with contractors & staff in at least 8 countries, managers, suppliers, over 500 joint venture partners, affiliates and contacts that we stay in touch with. In addition to that my website www.MarshaWright.com and the mentorship programmes we provide to entrepreneurs all over the world keep me really busy.
I had to learn this principle or Focused Prioritisation; otherwise I would be dead in the water.
There are several ways to be much more focused. What I recommend to many of my best clients is to list ALL of the jobs and tasks for which they are responsible (or do because there is insufficient man-power), then look for the 3 KEY THINGS that ONLY they can do, that are ESSENTIAL to the success of the company.
Without these priorities being met, the business will trudge along but lasting and phenomenal success will be a distant achievement.
Then you must DECIDE to reschedule your month to account for these priorities. Make it possible to spend at least 70% of your week on them. And then schedule the other things you cannot yet delegate into slots of downtime. Preferably when you find you are more tired/less productive in the day - or your normal manic days. Keep your 'quiet days' for focused priorities.
Generate new business, close contracts, create better systems... whatever ONLY you can do. Do it and do it most of the time.
Key thing here... BE BRAVE ENOUGH to stick to your priorities, or your bigger picture is going to elude you for a long time to come.
Lesson #2: Don't Be Led By Everything That Comes Up
I always talk about being reactive and the damage that does to businesses, morale and your sanity. Many managers are just way too reactive. They just react to every little thing.
The phone rings, employees guzzle attention for things that don't require your input if they were better trained/prepared, a bill comes in, another issue rears its head.
Whatever it is, you find that you are just reacting constantly. And no eagle-level work every gets done, or indeed very little happens.
Now lesson from Fox...
Fox rarely comes when I call him. He is fairly self-important and doesn't believe in reacting to the minutia of my whims to have him entertain me.
He responds in his PRECIOUS sweet time. He has his own schedule, and he is not being hurried through the day by external forces (see my article on Crazy Monkeys that will make this all too real for you).
As a leader, it is your responsibility to stay focussed on the bigger picture. You have to deal with some fire-fighting sure. But it should not be every minute of every day. A recent study found that the average employee is interrupted every 11 minutes. So with things like Skype, Google plus, in-boxing on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and not to mention WhatsApp and text messaging, we are just WAY too available.
We have to wrangle the inflows, so that our outflows can be more efficient and productive.
Lesson #3: If It Doesn't Feel Right, Do Something About It
My hubby and I are quite mischievous and sometimes finding Fox sleeping, we go harass him. He'll indulge us for a while, and then about 30 seconds later it's no longer fun for him, and he thrashes his tail (cat language for leave me alone).
If we persist he'll either demand we stop - by smacking our hands away - or he'll just get up and go relax elsewhere.
As entrepreneurs, we can take a lesson from this. Sometimes we put up with some of the most ridiculous situations out of reluctance to institute change.
This is something that has to be arrested in our approach to situations, even people we work with.
Sometimes you need distance, sometimes you need to make clear in no uncertain terms that 'this' is NOT okay. I'm a big believer in maximising your results through communication. It may be uncomfortable; there may be politics or ramifications involved, true. But if the bigger picture should be in mind, then why wouldn't we have 5 minutes of discomfort instead of getting so wound up that there is later a blow up?
Nothing beats an honest conversation if something is not working for you.
You don't have to be mean or disrespectful, but see if you can find out WHY this is happening from the other person's stand point, and moving forward in the future will be significantly easier for you. Perhaps you can come to a resolution.
Maybe you just have to lay down the law, but whichever way, you can do it; be focused on growth and collaboration. Make them want to be on your side and you'll get more done.
Ignoring a situation you are not happy with will often mean you are miserable and like my cat - that shouldn't be okay with you.
Bonus Lessons # 4-7: A Few More Things That Cats Show Us
#4 Be an independent thinker
#5 Don't kiss butt
#6 Take time to feel people out before you give them all your trust
#7 Delegate as much as possible (he delegates his feeding, cleaning and watering to me - but there again, I delegate it to my housekeeper, so maybe I'm learning yet )
Can you see where these tips could help in your life or business? Have you got a tip or lesson to share? Have you tried this our and want to share your results? Let me know if you got any ah-ha's from this article?
Please comment below or Tweet Me @MarshaWright and I'll reply back.