The Sunday Mail
Activity is not productivity. Sweat is not an evidence of work, but a mere biological function. Being tired is not necessarily evidence that you have been working.
Being busy does not mean you are being productive.
Having a reputation for working hard does not really mean that you are producing results that matter.
It is easy to be so absorbed with actives, today’s pressures and myriad programmes.
It is easy to horse around, galloping all over and yet produce very little.
Laziness is laziness even if you clothe it with being busy.
This cannot go on forever and insanity cannot be tolerated forever. Stop horsing around and start really doing something with impact and meaning.
You have power beyond your estimation. Make the best use of what is in your control and what is not in your control you will be able to live with.
Waiting for change is not strategic action but an idle excuse born out of laziness to think and act.
Too busy doing what
It is easy to be swept by the tide of activity. People addicted to activity become uncomfortable when they are asked for results.
Take time to think and reflect. You cannot be too busy driving that you forget to get some fuel. Driving at high speed with an empty tank is not a success strategy.
The late Stephen Covey popularised the concept of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”.
His best-selling book was born out of his doctoral research wherein he studied success literature over the last 1000 years.
From his work he distilled the keys to success into seven habits that successful people regardless of age or generation have embraced and applied daily. Among these habits the first three make up the essence of what he calls: “Personal Victory”.
These three habits are: Be proactive, begin with the end in mind and put first things first.
It is not enough for you to be a victim and think that the whole world is conspiring against you to put you down, frustrate and impoverish you.
Being proactive means that you choose to act and not to just be acted upon.
You choose to be the one causing things to happen and creating the waves. The protest posture is a glorified victim attitude regardless of where it resides.
Protesting may bring a semblance of equity, but it will never create greatness.
If there is turbulence where you are ask who created the turbulence. If it was created by others you are reactive.
It is time to change and be proactive. Choose to take responsibility. If anything is to be it does not depend on anyone else except you.
Swallow this fact, and you will move forward. Refuse to let other people create your misery while you seat like a lame duck complaining.
To horse around complaining to everyone who will care to listen will not help much.
You cannot keep blaming your parents, boss or past for your misery.
The blame game is not a favourite game in town. Instead of selling your blame, misery and complaints find something of better value to sell.
Find a worthy product to evangelise about. You certainly cannot change the whole world, but you can change your circle of influence.
You cannot run every race in town, but you have your own race and lane to run in.
Being proactive is not just a song to sing in strategy sessions and management meeting but it is a daily behaviour and habit of thought that you must whole heartedly adopt.
Stop thinking past and think present. Stop thinking that your misery was manufactured elsewhere and someone owes you a living.
Get over the past and start creating the future.
Your power and leverage resides in the gaps between stimulus and response.
You do not control the stimulus, the events, or the environmental forces.
However, you do have a responsibility to determine your response. This is the essence of taking responsibility.
You are a victim when you think that you are powerless, weak and unable to do anything except mourn, complain and seek protection.
Being proactive is choosing your response and the action that you take. It is not what is done on you that matters but what you choose to do about it.
In this very minute, you stand in that gap of power. You can choose to surrender your power of choice or use it purposefully.
When you complain, and blame anyone you are giving them the power to control your misery and life.
Take back that remote control and change the channel to something more helpful and useful.
Instead of your life being a product of your bitter complaints, protest mission, or waiting-for-change-game, let it be a result of your bold vision of the future.
It is not what you are going through that matters but where you are going to.
Line of sight
Do not just gallop along without direction or focus. Create a line of sight between where you are and where you are going.
It may be cloudy, dusty or noisy between where you are and where you are going.
That does not change the fact that horsing around without direction is not a direction that you must take.
Begin with the end in mind. If you do not know where you are going there is very little help that you can get.
Know where you are and where you want to go to. A map is not always the answer to a lost person.
If you have a map and you do not know where you are, the map will not help much.
If you have a map and you know where you are and yet do not know where you want to go, you also are difficult to help.
Stop complicating your life by listening to every suggestion and turning it into a strategic trajectory.
That will leave you galloping around, tired and confused.
Put things in their place
Stephen Covey says, “Put first things first”. Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.
Time invested in planning is not wasted time. In times of turbulence some organisations put off strategic planning and decide to use a “state of emergency” strategic philosophy.
The worst thing any organisation can do in a crisis is to put off strategic thinking and planning.
It is better to be in the midst of a storm with a plan, than to be in the midst of the storm without a plan or clear purpose.
If the plan you are using is ineffective perhaps you need an external strategy facilitator to help you think clearly and to ask the important questions that will help you develop to define your brutal reality and a clear plan to the future. Put first things first. Strategy is not what you do in good times and you dispense with in bad times. Without a strategy there is no leadership to talk about. Strategy is required even more in bad times.
Strategy planning tools are not necessarily strategic thinking. Passing a Strategic Management course does not make you a strategist.
Stop horsing around riding on textbooks as an excuse for doing your own thinking. Have positive and clear direction.
Marching without direction is not gaining ground. Every strategy must clearly answer these five key elements:
What is your winning aspiration?
Where will you play?
How will you win?
What capabilities need to be in place and what management systems are required for you to win?
Whatever strategy tools you decide to use does not matter much if you cannot clearly and succinctly answer those five key elements of strategy.
It is not enough to just play in order to be said to have played. You have to play to win. Galloping is not racing. Speed is not necessarily direction. Memos are not a strategy. You cannot escape the responsibilities of the future but evading strategic thinking today.
De-clutter your life and stop doing that which does not work.
Doing the same things that you have always done will not give you the same results that you have always had.
That goes against nature. Doing the same things, gives you less than you got the last time. That is the law of diminishing returns.
That is what depreciation is all about. Stop doing what does not work and what is not fruitful. Mounting a wild horse will not help you much when you have a journey to take.
Mounting a horse without strategy will not give you direction. Leadership without strategy is a dangerous occupation. Stop horsing around, raising dust everywhere and get clarity, focus and act with dispatch. Sitting around and waiting for inspiration will not get you inspired. Start taking action and doing that which works.
Committed to your greatness
Milton Kamwendo is a cutting-edge international transformational and inspirational speaker, author and coach. He is a strategy, innovation, team-building and leadership consultant. His life purpose is to inspire people to be great. He can be reached at: [email protected] Ends.