The “P” word for leaders – Priorities

(This is the “P” installment of the series, “Alphabet for Leaders.”)

“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.” Freya Madeline Stark

Ever wish you had more time? Who hasn’t? However, if you don’t have priorities, creating more time won’t help. You’ll end up just as over-booked, over-worked, and over-whelmed as you are now.

Truth is I feel good when I’m busy. Actually, I feel more than good. I feel secure, useful, and important. Are we sending a subtle message when we say we are busy? Do we need busy-ness to prove our worth?

“It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy – very busy – without being very effective,” Stephen Covey.

If life is about doing things then priorities point to things that must be done. Perhaps more importantly, priorities point out “good” activities to leave undone.

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least,” Goethe.

A person with priorities does what matters.
A person without priorities does what is urgent.

Time management begins with priorities that protect you from the tyranny of the urgent. One enemy of a priority driven life is email. My reading indicates leaders spend at least 40% of their time working out of their inbox. “If you are working off your inbox you’re working off the priorities of others,” Donald Rumsfeld.

Furthermore, Priorities express values, mission, and vision. Most importantly, the “big three” always explain your impact on stakeholders, employees, and customers. In a word, priorities are about people.

If you’re like me you need to make establishing priorities a priority.

How do priorities impact your daily life?

What are the steps to establishing priorities?

What other “P” words can you offer leaders?


Note: The life circumstances of some LF readers may require them to live exhausting lives simply to stay afloat. In this case, your priority is survival. You have my respect.