Enjoy this video transcript of this week’s Monday Moment episode.
Good morning and happy Monday! I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.
Happy June and happy reopening! … but this does beg, um, let’s call it a different question and that is “How do you relocate your momentum from the last several months?” For most of us, it’s as if we’ve been on the spin cycle of a washing machine because every time we think it’s coming to an end, something changes. Something traverses a boundary, something is different, and it makes us feel a little bit spun around and or a little bit in a strange state about people and process, but you also may find that you feel like you’ve been hung out on the line to dry. Or as if you’ve been rather stagnant for the last few months. So where did that momentum go?
Momentum is a concept in leadership most closely aligned to forward progress made in any given direction, and the amount of buildup and energy behind it increases with every step in your successive direction. We’ve been still for a while. The momentum? It’s left the building. So, how do you relocate that momentum and how do you do it in such a way that allows you to pace yourself? Much as you would not get up from sitting Indian style or even cross legged, if you’d been sitting that way for weeks, instantaneously, you can’t jump up off the ground or from a position of being stagnant, at full speed hybrid drive like you might have in, say February. The following five guidelines will be helpful, valuable, and powerful in helping you to relocate your momentum, build confidence, increase stamina, and get you back to the place where you feel good about your speed, performance, contributions, and leadership.
Limit Your To-Do Items
The very first step is to limit your to-do items. In fact, limit your to-do items to only six at the top of your list. You are only allowed to move to item seven if you complete items one through six and it’s that limitation that forces your energy into a much smaller pipeline. It forces you to focus on only a limited number of items and the reality is, you also likely only have a limited amount of bandwidth and this method gives you a much better sense, or much better chance, of having that sense of accomplishment. Limit your to-do list on a daily basis to only six. When you complete those six items, then yes, you’re welcome to add item seven or eight or 10, 20, or even 83, as my list has at times looked like, but not during these times. You want to find that momentum? Relocate that drive and that forward direction by limiting your to do’s to only six on any given list. And that leads us to step two.
Decide on Your Top Two
Step two is, in and among those six to do items, decide on your top two. Decide on your top two, must dos, in that list of limited to-dos. The reason for that is when there’s a high degree of stress, whether it’s through change or whether it’s through your responsibilities have been adjusted, focus is hard to come by and energy is drained far more quickly. During these times, you may have had to homeschool and now everybody’s coming back to work and you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be focused or you can’t be right now because day care is not yet open. Or maybe that muscle, so to speak, has atrophied. At one time you were well aware of what it was like to be in an organization where you all the employees come to you consistently and interrupt regularly. When you’ve been away from that for a while and had interrupted work time, you will likely have forgotten what it was like to not feel quite so productive. Couple that with you’re trying to deal with massive change. You’re also trying to keep on the happy face. It’s all just draining. And, as I’ve said for quite some time, the psychological impact of all of this upheaval will not yet be fully known, discovered, nor reported, but we are under far more stress than most of us are ready to admit, or even aware that we’re experiencing. For that reason and many others, decide on your top two as a way of relocating your momentum. Prioritize from that list of six because your ability right now to prioritize everything as an A, or to keep track of five, six, seven, or even 10 priorities, is pretty limited.
The third guideline that will allow you to relocate, redevelop, and reinvigorate your momentum is to segment your lists. Now, there may have been a time when you could put everything in your head, down on one list. For example, you could have had home, personal stuff, work stuff, in the morning stuff, staff meeting stuff, board meeting stuff, or maybe it was customer stuff, or donor stuff. Whatever all that stuff was on your list, there was a time when you could probably have put it all on the same page and kept on rolling. Or all in the same app on your phone, or all in the same One Note application on whatever device you use. However, right now I would exercise caution in this arena. Pace yourself to build back up to some sense of momentum by segmenting your lists into bite size, manageable areas. One for work, or the staff meeting, or the team development exercise. One for HR issues. One for the vacation you’re planning, or 4th of July plans. One for activities or needs of the kids or the family and one for finances. Segment those lists, and in whatever medium you record them, whether it’s a legal pad or whether it’s some technological option, make sure that you’re keeping those lists in small bite sized, manageable pieces. All of this is designed to increase the chances that you’ll get a sense of accomplishment, increase the chances that you will not fall into the trap of feeling overwhelmed or bogged down and unable to get it all done. If you’ve not been doing things in these areas for the last three months, you’re not going to get done what didn’t happen, in three days’ time. Just something to consider.
Say No Twice as Often
Your fourth guideline to relocate and reinvigorate that momentum is to say no twice as often right now. Your mentality, your time, your resources, and your energy are at a lower capacity. The fuel tank, if you will, is low on gasoline. So, until you build back up a full tank, be very careful what you commit yourself to and where you say, Oh, yeah, I’ll do that. Be very mindful that the more commitments you tack on, the less time you’ll have to manage your top two priorities and the six items on your list. So, the fourth guideline is to say no twice as often, at least for now.
Stop. Listen. Question.
The last and final guideline that leaders who put this into practice will find helpful is to stop, listen, and pay attention to the filters currently managing your stress. Said simply, stop, listen, and question. When we’re in a highly stressed state, the best leaders will tell you they don’t make big decisions. When in a highly stressed state, emotions are driving so many factors. Fatigue might be driving our interpretation or perception of events. Frustration, annoyance, fear, depression, anger might be our answers to events that created none of those in reality. There are approximately 22 emotions or labels to describe these emotional feelings in this area, that when we’re under high stress are driving the way in which you see the world and are primarily negative. Before you perceive the actions of others, believe the motivations and intentions of those around you, and interpret your environment, stop, listen and question.
The interpretation of your environment right now may not be accurate. Lots in your mind that you believe needs to get done, that haven’t been done for a long period of time, is all going to contribute to a state of potential overwhelm and drain a lot of momentum that before you may have been able to lean on. So, your five guidelines: limit the to-do’s to only six. Decide what are your top two. (and side note: Give yourself a ribbon or a cookie if you’re into that, once you accomplish those top two priorities.) Step three, segment the list into small, manageable elements or areas. Step four, stop, listen, and question your interpretations. And actually, I like that step so much, I made it step four in this last summary. Step four was actually to say no twice as often. Do them in order or all simultaneously, but do them so we can return to feeling like we’re leading with a forward sense of momentum kind of feeling. We’re going to get through this together. We’re going to reopen successfully, and it will likely be better than ever. In the meantime, let’s work together. Let’s stay on track, stay focused, and become that better leader of not only others, but ourselves in the process.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday moment. And Hey, if you’re not a member of a contagious community, it’s okay, its non-virus related. Go to ContagiousCompanies.com and fill in your information on the square that pops up so you can receive these Monday Moments every week straight to your inbox. I look forward to seeing you soon and in the meantime, go out there and create momentum behind building your leadership.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a celebrated leader who develops future leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm delivers and designs leadership training for managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared, and the leaders who promoted them. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica and members of the Contagious team may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.