Updated: Sep 27, 2022
I recently participated in a Values Determination Class for Leaders (yes, even those of us who teach on a topic benefit from learning from our peers!) where serial entrepreneur, Robert Glazer, shared his insight that better leadership isn’t about learning a bunch of tactics, but rather about taking the time to hold ourselves up to a mirror for greater self-awareness.
I was silently cheering my head off.
That’s it in a nutshell.
Want people to follow you?
Want to grow your influence and impact?
Then you must lead the way.
Follow your own inner guidance, and grow your impact through achieving your own goals and dreams. Your success in those key areas inspires others to want what you have created for yourself.
Hopefully you are following along in this series of ten blogs on better leadership in ten weeks. Last week we looked at roadblocks that could trip you up on the journey towards your goals. Be on guard for those as you plan. This week, however, is about the one thing you’ll want to focus on FIRST.
Once you’ve clarified your mission, set some goals, and defined real or potential roadblocks to avoid or conquer, it’s time to determine the ONE thing you’re going to focus on that will move the needle most for you.
Being a “kick-starter” or an “ideas person” is great, but having too many things going at once is self-defeating. We all do it. Our culture all but demands that we juggle more than is actually doable in order to be “successful.” The sad irony is that trying to do too much at once is actually detrimental to productivity. Neuroscience tells us there is no such thing as multitasking. Instead, we are doing micro-switching on tasks at a high rate of speed. When we do, we also must take time to de-focus and re-focus, which slows us down and compounds the risk of errors.
Not only that, you’ll miss out on the satisfaction of finishing a project well and won’t focus clearly on anything, since you’re always aware of everything else you haven’t gotten to yet. This lack of being fully present robs us of our joy, fulfillment, creativity and perspective.
The solution is hidden in plain sight, and in my experience, it is nothing short of miraculous. Determine one thing that, if you do it, will have a positive effect of making everything else begin to fall into place. You’ll feel like you’re making forward progress once you’ve begun it. This is called the “Lead Domino”. It does a tremendous amount of the heavy lifting for you, in fact.
Pushing that first domino that falls and knocks down all the succeeding dominoes is a huge stimulus for success. It is partially a mindset shift, partially a physical momentum shift, and partially a strategic planning shift. You job is to determine that no matter what, this one item is what’s going to take precedence over any other project, or piece of your work at hand.
It can be a small thing. In my experience, sometimes getting something (anything!) off the list will energize you and create momentum. However, more often, doing that one thing you’re dreading, and you know you want to get it over with, but must happen before you can do the next thing, is the place to start. Not only will you feel better to have it behind you, the next activities seem easier by comparison.
The third category of Lead Domino is more akin to kindling for a fire. This is my favorite. When I chose to make writing a book my ONE thing in year one of my business it did many things for me all at once. The first was it helped me clarify my messaging. The second was it provided an incentive for organizations to hire me to speak, growing my visibility, and third, it added credibility to my work. That’s a Lead Domino.
Two quick caveats - unexpected challenges and setbacks are common in any area of life. Avoid letting that derail your determination. We learn from these situations and grow stronger as a result. Look for the lesson, pick right back up where you left off, and keep moving.
And, more often than not, it can be very challenging to see our Lead Domino by ourselves. Get a mentor, coach, or trusted friend to weigh in on your plan. This is time well spent to speed up your results over time.
Write down the ONE thing you are going to start, work hard at, and concentrate on until it’s been implemented.
Should this ONE thing be broken down into increments, each of which can be finished and checked off individually?
Consider telling someone (that mentor, coach or friend) ahead of time about your plans and exactly when you’re planning to complete this ONE thing. Give them permission to check on your progress.
When you’re finished with it, feel the freedom to pat yourself on the back and brag a little!
Next week we’ll create an action plan for this ONE thing you’re starting with.