riding several horses at onceReflecting on my effectiveness as a leader when I journal regularly, one the major challenges I have struggled with is the notion of trying to please everyone.   With the pressures and demands from clients, employees and other people we interact with regularly, it is a real challenge to focus on you and what is right for the people that matter.

To look at what I needed to change in the area of trying to keep people happy, I looked at my calendar for the last half of 2012.   I noticed some very interesting trends that were consistent nearly each and every week:

  • My diary was full all the time.  Trying to jam too much in every week through a fear in keeping everyone happy;
  • When analysing the appointments I had in the diary, there was a lot of ad-hoc coffees and catch ups.  When I look at the names, they were on offs, favours, requests from others that were keen to have a coffee with no real purpose or focus;
  • There was not enough time around strategy, working on the business or with the people that really mattered to me in terms of family and friends;
  • The existence of exercise, the gym and getting outside was non- existent or very little.  This was suffering due to other things that were not as important not creating any space for this;
  • Doing things with my wife and kids was lacking as well in the calendar.  Again, I was not creating the space for this to occur.   A really important priority that I was not putting in my diary; and
  • A lot of time was spent in one on ones with employees every week.   On reflection, some of this time was creating a dependency culture where it was not creating the expectation that our team was empowered to get on with their jobs and make decisions themselves.

The cause of all this for me came down to one key theme.  By pleasing everyone else I was pleasing no one and worse I was not doing the things that I enjoyed or mattered to me.   My priorities were upside down not only in my calendar but also in where I put my energy.  It was wrong and needed to change.  This means I needed to give some other things up including riding two horses so I didn’t get split in half between what I want to achieve and what others want me to do for them.  

From the start of 2013 I have made some really positive changes in this area. No longer will I accept coffee catch-up’s for the sake of it.  It takes time away from what is important to me and my family.   I purposely have large chunks of time in the week to do nothing but plan, create content and strategise.  I love this time and what it does to me energy wise!

The mentoring I now do is largely focused on developing more blogs, online coaching program’s and giving back through speaking engagements and other community endeavours.   I now take phone calls and walk at the same time combining exercise and getting outside!  I pick up the kids more regularly from school, calisthenics, dance and take more ad-hoc days off to spend time with the family.  

As the airlines reinforce when they give you the safety message at the start of your journey, I have started to place the oxygen mask on myself before placing it on others.   I have done this through getting focused on myself and where I put my time.  It may be viewed as selfish but I would beg to differ.  The horse I plan to ride is aligned to what success looks like for me and others important in my life.  I look forward to the ride on my horse!