In my last post, my friend the Mantis shrimp demonstrated the value of using your strengths to sidestep weakness. Much more enjoyable than wearing yourself out, battling to excel in areas where you don’t shine – particularly if really don’t care about the area of weakness. This approach is the equivalent of deciding to swim with (instead of against) the tide.
In this post, you’ll find a straight-forward 3-step method to become more effective and efficient by focusing on your strengths.
Step 1: Simple Setup
– Set aside 5 to 10 minutes with no distractions.
– Fill a sheet of paper (yes, use old fashioned paper and a writing implement – I’ll explain why that’s better in a different post) with every repeatable task you handle in your business. It doesn’t matter whether you do it daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly. Get it all down on paper.
– Take a second piece of paper, positioned sideways (landscape) and divide it in 4 columns.
– Create these headers for the 4 columns of your table: Keep, Consider, Cut Next, and Quit.
Step 2: Find Your Joy
– Review your list and circle everything that’s your forte. This is where you shine. Each of these tasks are, or make use of, your strengths.
– Review those circled items and place a star next to every strength that you also enjoy. You’re passionate about these tasks and/or they give you pleasure.
– Transfer the starred items to the “Keep” column of your table. You’re great at these tasks and you love doing them.
– Transfer the rest of the circled items to the “Consider” column. They’re strengths so you can continue to do them, but you may prefer not to, as they’re really not your thing.
Step 3: Identify Your Irritants
– Review your list a second time. This time, draw a square around everything that you dislike or find difficult, that isn’t reliant on you. In other words, a task earns a square if someone else could, theoretically, do it (even if you don’t have someone to delegate it to right now). It isn’t integral to your product. For example, if a dentist doesn’t feel she’s great at looking at teeth and diagnosing problems, she still shouldn’t put a square around it, as her business relies on her execution of this activity. (She should probably look into a career change, though!) However, if she hates doing billing, it earns a square.
– Transfer the squared items to the “Quit” column of your table.
Step 4: Clarify the Next Cuts
Finally, transfer every task that isn’t circled or squared to the “Cut Next” column. You’re competent at these tasks, but not a star, and they don’t float your boat.
Step 5: Roadmap to Results
You now have your roadmap to joy, fulfillment and success.
Your objective is to work your way from left to right, delegating or ditching all but the tasks where you shine (the “Keep” column). You’ll start with the “Quit” column. When you’ve off-loaded everything on that list, you’ll move on to “Cut Next.” Finally, you’ll reconsider the “Consider” column, deciding what you’d like to dispense with.
How long it takes you to get to living in the “Keep” column obviously depends on many factors, including both resources and creativity. You’ve got a roadmap now that will lead you to living where you shine. With every cut you make, you’ll be closer to a happy and healthy business…and self!
In an upcoming post, I’ll be focusing on creative ways to delegate or ditch tasks in your “Quit” column.