Checklists. I love them. I recently audiobooked Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.
Here’s an excerpt from Malcolm Gladwell’s review of the book:
Gawande thinks that the modern world requires us to revisit what we mean by expertise: that experts need help, and that progress depends on experts having the humility to concede that they need help.
Checklists (read: process) can help in a lot of ways. Once you know where you’re going or what you need to do, it breaks down the goal or task into clear, executable, manageable steps.
2017 started with goals. Next was the checklist – how to get these done.
I personally find the thought of skydiving terrifying. Heights…. yikes, I get dizzy even thinking about jumping out of a plane. Which is why it’s the perfect analogy for what I was feeling. I had no idea how these goals were going to turn out, but I knew I wanted them. That made the thought of failing scary. That told me I was on the right track.
In one of my business trips this year, I ended up in the city Bill lived in. I asked him for lunch and he luckily happened to free on the day I’d be there, agreeing to meet. I thanked him for the course in late 2016 and asked him to tell me the story of how he started his business. I was on the edge of my seat. Everyone’s story is different, which is precisely why I love hearing them.
His skill though, as a teacher of sales, is to ask the questions and soon he was asking me where I was at and what I wanted. I told him.
He looked me in the eye (again) and asked if I was getting ready or getting ready to get ready. I thought about that for a second.
A subtle, though critical difference.
I was… getting ready to get ready.
Okay, back to the skydiving preflight checklist. Time to get the plane in the air and get ready for the jump.
I still didn’t want to nail myself to rigid dates because that was one thing I was trying to work on, and there were some other factors rolling around in there. Keeping an open mind to opportunities while simultaneously focusing on your goal can be a hard balancing act (side note: how did Dr. Seuss convey us so much wisdom in our childhood books and sometimes we still forget it?!)
I like to keep busy, I love getting things done – though I also realized I had to make space for these new goals. In the stories of every successful person I’ve read about, they’ve had something along the lines of ‘you can do anything, but not everything’. I had to start saying no to more things.
Some of my terms were coming up on boards that I truly loved, but it was time to ask the difficult question of how much attention and time did I really have? When I commit to something, I fully commit so I need to be able to have the resources (time and attention) to execute. I’ve been training myself to see the silver lining in everything and in giving up my seat, I realized that while I’d be sad I’d no longer be contributing to these organizations in the same way, I was making space for others to contribute in their unique ways and that’s a great thing. And there were of course other, smaller, ways I could continue to support these organizations.
So, now that the checklist was ready and I was knocking it off – no longer getting ready to get ready, but instead getting ready (gulp) – it was time to jump.
Coming up tomorrow, the jump. Also known as Chapter 3: Street fighter (hadouken)
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