What is it that separates the successful from the unsuccessful or the profitable from the unprofitable? This is a question that every leader must discover the answer to if he or she does not want to end up amongst the ranks of mounting failures.
Learning From the Best.
In an effort to provide leaders with cutting edge information, I have made it my business to study some of the foremost leaders in this country. I have discovered that the differences between the successful and the unsuccessful are not as complex as many suspect; but rather very simple.
The #1 Factor:
The major factor that seems to make the most significant impact on the end result is time management. Successful and profitable leaders all seem to have mastered the art of separating the majors from the minors. These leaders have also developed the discipline of spending major time on major things.
The million dollar question, therefore, is how does one discern the majors from the minors. The best answer I have come across I heard from a successful entrepreneur out of Las Vegas who said, If it don’t make dollars then it don’t make sense!
Don’t Major in Minor Things
Principally speaking, every leader must organize his or her time around activities that have a clear correlation to the bottom line (or mission for non-profit organizations). In todays fast paced highly competitive market, it is easy to be distracted by secondary activities.
Secondary activities are those things that are constantly arising and appearing urgent; however, they are non-essential. If a leader neglects spending major time on the things that dramatically impact the bottom line, then he will not be in business for long.
Effective leaders learn to delegate secondary activities and never substitute them in the place of major activities.
Time can prove to be a double edged sword. To the successful time is a friend and the unsuccessful it is an enemy. In the context of business, time should be viewed as a multiplier. Time as a multiplier works like fertilizer to a plant; regardless of the type of seed planted the fertilizer is going to accelerate the growth process.
Time allows the leaders good or bad choices to multiply; thereby increasing not only the quality of his results but also the rate of occurrence. The multiplier-effect is why the haves always seem to get more; and why the have-nots always seem to be searching for more.
When the leader engages in activities that dramatically affect the bottom line this is called investing. What happens to an investment over time? Investing over time will cause growth in proportion to its potential. Conversely, when the leader engages in activities that do not significantly have a positive impact on the bottom line this is called divesting (a.k.a spinning your wheels). What happens to divestment over time? Divestment over time leads to barrenness.
Investing your time in profitable activities requires an understanding of the Pareto Principle which suggests that 80% of your results are produced by 20% of your activities. Therefore, it is important to consider that not all activities are created equal.
During a normal business day, the leader will be faced with numerous opportunities to engage in different activities; ranging from responding to emails to attending board meetings. However, if you think all activities are created equal, you will be tempted into believing you have had a successful day because you had a full to-do-list and you checked off many tasks.
Successfully completing a to-do-list is not the same as being profitable.
If you are to be profitable, you have to discover the activities that comprise the 20% that makes 80% of the difference. I call this 20% the Furious Five. The Furious Five represent five major things that you need to manage with all fury that control the increase in value of your endeavors.
Dont continue to simply work harder without developing the insights that allow you to work smarter. Remember, it’s not how hard you work but how smart you work that produces profits.