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The Daily ParadoxLife Purpose

The Daily Paradox: Getting Things Done

International politicians have shifted the emphasis of their speeches from “Grand Visions of Better Times Ahead” to “Getting Things Done”. It is shorter, snappier and sounds more powerful in a world of Grab, TikTok and Instagram. Speed is quantity, supporting the myth that more means better. As the pace of life continues to increase relentlessly so, too, instant solutions have emerged as the political fix the voter wants. This shift is happening throughout our lives even to the point where safety is put at risk to speed up delivery of aircraft. That should warn us of the folly of skimping quality to achieve more.

Three things we must know to successfully drive the progress of anything from building a nuclear plant to developing a career. [1] What we want at the end of the project. [2] What are the major steps along the way. [3] When we aim to complete it.

The first of these is Purpose. People often seem wary of purpose, thinking that it somehow shackles or restricts them. The opposite is true. Purpose is a chance to be your liberated, creative self. Think broadly, wildly even. You can pin it down with reality later on. Developing it is your turn – use it. See it as something you would physically struggle to reach – a mountain, maybe, or a new record time for running the mile, or a perfectly cooked meal. Dream. Oh dear, how we have forgotten to dream. That’s because the pace of life discourages dreaming and because the mass media provide such imagination that we think we can satisfy our dreams by passive participation and minimum effort.

Successful aspirational dreams are output not input.

Internet games should be a source of creative dreams. In fact they are often nearer to being mind-numbing nightmares. An interesting potential client – extremely bright, quick on the draw and street smart – recently told us that she was great at getting things done but lost as to what those things ought to be. Increasing numbers of people are suffering from this FLF, ‘Finish Line Flaw’. There are more fatalities after races than during them.

Achievement without purpose leaves you drained of reason.

The human body knows that what it ingests will significantly determine its physical fitness but that unless it expels the detritus of what is spent it will die of poisoning. The mind is very similar, something we are only now waking up to. Very soon, mind exercise and discipline will be as de rigeur as physical exercise.

There is a saying in the Olympics world that, summarised, means ‘the  faster you want to go, the greater the preparation before you start’. Think of a fast-reaction situation like a building fire. No time to sit and ponder the purpose or trajectory there. Successful arson rescues are always based on good pre-fire preparation. Winning your rescue from a disaster in your career always depends on the clarity of your purpose and your strategic confidence.

Hawkish as I am about the distinction between strategy and tactics that does not mean that once a strategy is decided all creative thinking can cease and execution can be left to process. The great inventors use their processing time to continuously apply the strategy they have adopted to the tactics of achievement. It is known as The Great Sunday Moral Divide Problem. What you profess as your personal standards on one day of the week must be applied on the other six if they are to be meaningful.

Every life, religious or otherwise, has a Sabbath. And six other days a week.

If this sounds like pace is the overriding need for achievement, it is. Pace may be fast or slow. It mustn’t be ill prepared. Even when we have to run we should think about how – before the need arises. Pace cannot be dictated by profit. It must be the determinant of quality.

A very bright client told me the other day that she had improved the profitability of her business by slowing down the production. Fewer mistakes led to less re-work. It was a net benefit. Her staff appreciated it, too.

Getting things done doesn’t mean getting them over with.

It means getting them right.

Good  morning
John Bittleston

If you have a special way to get things done please tell us so that we may share it more widely. A line to [email protected] will do the trick. Thank you.

21 April 2024