September has always been one of my favorite months. The weather in the Northeast US is lovely. The foliage begins to change, displaying a dynamic array of colors. The air becomes crisp and the mornings cool. On a personal note, I get to enjoy another birthday, which somehow remains a treat well beyond childhood.
This year marks a milestone for me. As I reflect on my upcoming birthday, I feel incredibly fortunate to find myself enjoying good health and surrounded by a wonderful family, extraordinary clients, and a business that continues to evolve, grow, and reward in myriad ways.
My greatest challenge lies in maintaining balance and consistently applying a strategic mindset throughout my busy days. Amid the hectic pace of business and personal commitments, I must be especially thoughtful about how I spend my time, set priorities, make decisions, and position myself for the future.
I see the same phenomenon with my executive clients. Jammed calendars, competing priorities, and the ongoing challenge of balancing short-term pressures with long-term goals make it difficult to remain consistently strategic and get the right things done.
If this sounds familiar, take the following steps to ensure you’re leading an organization that favors proactivity over reactivity, strategy over tactics, and calm over chaos.
- Slow Down. Yes, it may sound like an impossible feat. After all, there are decisions to be made, actions to be taken, targets to be reached. But let’s be clear. Running as fast as you can will not get you the best possible outcomes. On the contrary, going too fast paves the way to poor decisions and repeated errors that can seriously set you back.
- Foster a thoughtful workplace. Tell your team what you expect and have them help you cascade it throughout the organization: We are going to think before reacting, strategize before we execute, communicate before forging ahead, and look to the future rather than striving only to survive the day.
- Maintain a laser focus on priorities. Short-term challenges can easily distract you from the long-term vision. Don’t let it happen. Instead, launch your day, week, quarter, and year with a strategic view of top priorities. If your short-term actions don’t support long-term growth, they’re probably not true priorities. While you can’t walk away from all the pressing items, you should certainly say no to some. Ask yourself: Do I do this now/later/never? (This framework and many others can be found in my new book, Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed and Thrive in a 24/7 World.)
Slow down, think, prioritize. Remember these straightforward ways to create your own “slow down to speed up” organization: one that is fully prepared to succeed today, adapt to the unexpected, and thrive well into the future.