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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Make a Difference Every Day

Sometimes the job is just too large to make a difference.  For as long as I can remember, I have had more employees than I can visit in a day.  There are more people that need help than we can help in a day.  There is more work than we can do in a day.  When I feel overwhelmed, I remember the story of the little boy who was seen throwing starfish back into the ocean.  When chided on the futility of his labor, he picked up a starfish, threw it in the water, and said "I made a difference for that one!"

Sometimes, instead of having the mind of a child, we overthink things and let the task at hand overpower us.  All we can do is one step at a time no matter what we have to accomplish.  Sometimes we can see the wisdom in making that step a LEVERAGED TASK.  I have written earlier about delegation.   True leaders can get more done through delegation than by doing everything by themselves.  If you have a critical message to relay, it would be better for you to relay it by video or to three people who can pass it on to other shifts than for you to run yourself ragged trying to see 400 staff members. 

It is just as important to be satisfied with those direct impacts that you do have time to make.  No, you can't be everything to everybody.  But when you have 5 minutes to spend with someone, you can make that 5 minutes count.  It can be an opportunity to limit distractions and focus on that other person.  An opportunity to praise and to reset expectations.  In doing so you are performing another LEVERAGED TASK.  This person, with whom you work will be able to be more effective than you would be.  Those 5 minute talks brings role clarity to them and helps them to do as you would do, if you could.  It also helps to recharge their batteries.  High performers don't need much more than these short encounters for them to know that they are on the right track.  They are mostly independent as long as they know that you are pleased with their direction.  You can feel good as you walk away from the conversation and say "I made a difference for that one!"

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