“I need this report compiled today!” “Why can’t you get this done…we are ALL waiting on YOU?!” “Yes, I can be on your task force.”
Regardless of your profession, each of us is bombarded by the tyranny of the urgent. Those fires which continually pop up and require our immediate attention or the planet may cease its rotation. Well…you get the point. Throughout each day, productivity bandits steal time from us…time we could use to set up another meeting with a prospect, talk with a stakeholder about supporting a project through a philanthropic gift, maybe to touch base with a staff member to see how his/her work is coming along.
External distractions are a given. It’s the internal distractions that truly rob us of our productivity and self-esteem. This blog post is not intended as counseling or any semblance of professional advice. I heard a presentation from Candy Barone on the roadblocks we put in our paths and found it quite compelling.
One trait successful people have in common is blocking out the “N.O.I.S.E.” our minds place in our journeys.
Negative self-talk. The voice inside your head that finds a problem (or two) inside of every solution. It is part of us. I do not know how to completely silence it, but when that voice begins its tirade, I read letters of recommendation people I know and trust have sent me – usually on LinkedIn or on paper.
Opinions of others. You want to know what do people think of your idea – whether it centers on a cultivation strategy, a new tactic in your business plan, your presentation at a conference, even on your choice for lunch. Any Six Sigma Greenbelt will tell you to listen to and consider the “Voice of the Customer” as a foundational principle to create greater efficiency and profitability by understanding the end product. Find a mentor in your profession who is willing to be provide unbiased, agenda-free feedback for you. Yes, this is a first year business school lesson, but how many former corporate CEOs might still be employed had they sought honest feedback.
Inefficiencies we create for ourselves. A special friend who helped me get started in volunteer service at the United Way served as a board member for 12 nonprofit organizations. When I asked why, the answer was ‘I need to keep my feelers active in the community.’ It sounded to me then (and now) that this person had difficulty saying no. From a practical matter, how would anyone give a full measure to 12 boards and maintain a full-time job?
Shoulding all over yourself. With credit and apologies to the Al Franken-created character of “Stuart Smalley” from NBC’s Saturday Night Live show. The character was a member of many 12-step groups, and popularized the phrase: “You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And doggone it, people like you…” all said in front of a mirror. Yet might there be a small amount of truth in ‘shoulding all over yourself’? I should go to the gym, I should make that extra phone call to get that appointment, I should bounce this idea off a valued colleague, etc. Determine your priorities and work them.
Excuses you create. Excuses stem from fear of failure and fear of rejection. You know you do not close every gift solicitation, secure every appointment, etc. We work with people and one cannot predict the reaction of one individual person. Yet you are in complete control of your reaction to every situation. The discipline needed to overcome any negative event strengthens your resolve for the next time…now that sounds a bit like Stuart Smalley.
Filtering out the “N.O.I.S.E.” is pivotal to any professional’s development and growth. How successful one is at this skill can be a harbinger for one’s success.