Do you know what sets apart a leader from a manager?
Imagine a group of travelers working their way through the jungle with machetes and axes. In an analogy to a business, these are the laborers, the producing force of the enterprise.
But who are the managers then? They are the people behind. They are in charge of setting up schedules and shifts but they also write and enforce rules and procedures such as safety and reimbursement. Their main responsibility is that everything must be done well, efficiently and in a timely manner.
There is also this one person who has to climb high up a tree once in a while and look in the distance through your binoculars. And then if needed they can yell down, “Stop! We are on the wrong course!” In their hands is perhaps the most important job – the one of the leader. They have to make sure that the whole band will make it all the way across the thick forest to the final destination. Such a leader who gets them there is an effective one.
There is much in common between how you go through life and the above analogy. You are the laborer but also the manager and on top of that, you have to be the leader. Today’s article is how to be all three of these.
Efficient, Effective or Both?
Unfortunately, it’s easier to make a mistake than not to.
It may happen that you are pursuing something for a long time. You work hard and do everything giving it 100% but then you suddenly realize how far you’ve gone…
You’ve gone far but off and away from your goal.
Regardless of how well you allocate your resources and how quickly you progress, in the end, you may be heading the wrong way. All the toiling of yours is in vain if you end up somewhere you didn’t intend to be.
It’s great to be highly efficient and perform well with little waste of effort but to what end matters as much.
How not to get lost in the jungle
Knowing what you want plays an indispensable role in our system.
You need a clear-cut long-term vision for your life. But let’s limit it to twenty-something years even if it doesn’t really require a true deadline. A good example here is the vision for health when you would like to be in good shape and be as active couple of decades from now as you are today.
It may seem you are getting closer every year and yet, like the line of the horizon, you can never really reach it. The role of this type of vision is to serve you as an internal compass.
There are many more ways to get there, though.
That’s why our system has this great tool for you – the short-term 90-day goal. As in the analogy we started with earlier, you can think of yourself as one of these explorers. You break through your path with a machete trying to get over the ridge in front of you. Then you want to reach the river because you know, you saw it with your own eyes from the top of the tree, it will lead you to the valley, your final destination. That’s how you stay on track.
Anyone can lose direction
Even the most precisely calculated trajectory of a flying object can’t be followed 100%. There are always forces that can interfere with it. But thanks to the fly-by-wire computer, it is possible to instantly make many minor corrective adjustments that keep the airplane on course.
It is pretty much the same story with your vision and 90-day goals. Every quarter, a review of the situation gives you an opportunity to assess where you are. If you aren’t any closer to your dream, you have to make the necessary changes and keep going.
You are alone in your own jungle
When you are working on something, you are just like a business – you are at the same time the visionary, the manager, and the laborer.
Well, there might be also the independent auditor, aka your Buddy, but we’ll talk about this a bit later.
When to be a leader
It may sound to you a bit overstretched of a notion but think again.
You are the boss of your own life – both in general as well as in some daily situations. As a parent, you are definitely the authoritative figure to your kids. You are in the leadership position when you organize a basketball game with your friends Tuesday night. It’s obvious that when you run your own business – you have to be the leader and the person with the vision for success.
This is also true when you set and follow your own chosen path: by defining your visions and measuring progress on each one of them. When the quarter is over you climb to the top of a tall tree and you look around and as far as you can. Then you know exactly where you are and how far from your objective.
It’s a piece of cake to tell others when they are going the wrong way, it’s much harder to tell the same thing to yourself.
The leader knows when to alter the course
The worst offense as a leader is to have no clarity about the destination. But if you do see it then trust your own guts how far you have to go and let your instinct lead you along. No one can navigate your life better than you.
When to be a manager
Every 90 days you get to be one!
That’s when you are designing the strategy as well the means of highly productive work. You have to be able to define your next 90-day goals in such a way that they depend entirely on your personal actions. You also have to formulate objectives with a clear idea of where you are going and how to get there quickly.
The manager knows when to keep working
The second worst mistake is to miss the right moment for change or its other manifestation when you constantly make unwarranted reversals.
The tricky part of the 90-day goals is as follows:
After the objective is set there are many roads that can take you there. Some are rocky, some are longer, and others cut straight through the dense tropical vegetation. That’s the moment of truth when you have to show perseverance and keep going in the chosen direction without, as they say, “change horses midstream”.
Set it up and don’t quit till the end of the quarter
One sure way to fail in your 90-day goal is to keep switching between various tactics.
A manager understands it well – it is unproductive to spend time and effort on something if it never gets completed and/or evaluated at the end. This is a net loss of resource utilization.
Get on the road and keep going without giving up if you hit an obstacle. Only at the end, you can decide whether it was the right one.
When the period of a 90-day goal is over you can easily find out if things worked out according to plan. You either made progress or you didn’t. But in both cases, you’ve learned a lot more about how to get there and that’s a win-win for you.
At the end of the quarter, stop and look around
But we have to say something to those who never give up.
Our system benefits them in a different manner. Usually, they have a hard time admitting to themselves that they are wrong and something new has to be tried out. If you are one of them the quarterly review is exactly what will do you good. It will provide the opportunity to confidently try a new approach.
When to be a laborer
You can’t be only observing the surrounding landscape through the binoculars. Nor you can only be the manager. Someone has to grab the machete and start cutting and getting through the jungle.
There is real work that needs to be done in order to achieve your goals.
That’s where the weekly steps come into play. Day in and day out, you roll up your sleeves and get them done. They might be small and not quite seem to be of much consequence but they accumulate and in time move you forward.
When vision and strategy are all set up only one thing is required – the first small step. That’s why “Goal Buddy” is so simple and effective.
Workers know when to have a break
It may happen that you get so carried away that you keep cutting and chopping with no sense of time.
But giving yourself a timeout, catching your breath and just looking around to feel part of the present is an equally important part of living to the fullest.
And just then there might happen that someone taps you on the shoulder…
Your Goal Buddy
This person, the “independent auditor”, turns out to be at the same time and at the same place as you are.
They call you every week to check on you and how you’re doing. If there are issues, challenges or any trouble you will be welcoming their helping hand.
At the end of each quarter, they review your “managerial” performance and you discuss together what’ next.
And then, once a year, shoulder to shoulder with your inner boss up there at the tree top you re-think your vision and answer the question, “why do I want to do that?”
It’s always better when there are two of you.
The difficult terrain
Setbacks and difficulties are inevitable but luckily some of these are in your head only.
There are many limiting beliefs that will drag you down while holding these three “positions”. The most common is that successful goals are achieved only through work which is boring, hard and even sickening.
For some, it’s only natural to be visionaries, but they have little or no confidence at all that they can do anything. Others, on the other hand, are like a machine or even better is to compare them to a hamster on its running wheel. Whichever of these you might be there are some attitudes of yours that stop you from believing in yourself. We might have a solution for you.
Go with confidence
We strongly recommend you to give this simple system of ours a try. You will realize how with so little you can do so much which could easily be that the best version of yourself lives happily and with a purposeful meaning.
Your confidence is just around the corner immediately after your achievement.
The support and the extra courage of your Buddy are irreplaceable in your quest for success in any objective you set your eyes on.
Good luck and see you soon!