Negotiate the No
Today, I asked my colleague for their input on a project and this is the reply I got:
I am deeply tied up on another project. What is the degree of priority, please ?
As I was preparing my response, I remembered In his excellent book Essentialism, Greg McKeown talks about the idea of the undisciplined pursuit of more instead of the disciplined pursuit of less. He mutes the fact that the word priority was a singular word from about the 14th century up until the 19th century when someone - probably an overworked employee came up with the idea of having a set of priorities.
If by definition a priority is the most important thing, how does it makes sense then to have many "most important" things?
Today companies have their special "top 10 priorities" lists and set about building their core values around these principles. Some of us may remember what it was like not to have an avalanche of stimuli jostling for supremacy in our conscious minds. A wait at the airport meant you had 3 hours to read a book, or a newspaper or just catch up on some good old fashioned mental meandering - the art of letting your mind wander and ponder on things that may have been bugging you. I remember being 8 years old and sitting at Heathrow airport pondering important things like for example, what does it feel like to drive a floor buffer around the airport? or how do they fit the ship in the bottle?
In today´s crazy pursuit of more, if we are to reclaim our lives and reset our compasses we must, as Greg says learn to "negotiate the no" . My colleague said "No" to me this morning in the nicest most professional way and this forced me to re-check my priority.
Note to self:
As leader I have only one priority for my team; to give them the space and resources they need to grow and that means keeping things off their plates so that they can focus on what they do best.