The subtle challenges of taking your eye off the ball

Published on
September 7, 2015
Chris Taylor
"Ideas are only valuable when applied."
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I’ve been working through some family issues as of late, and I thought I could handle it. I cut down on my proactive work, and moved into reactionary mode. I stayed on top of my email, kept most of my meetings and hit most of my deadlines.

Originally, I was fairly amazed at how I was able to “accomplish the same amount in half the time”. Because, superficially, that’s exactly what I was doing. I was checking the boxes. I was scratching off ToDos.

But that’s all it was – checking boxes. Keeping the proverbial wheels turning. I wasn’t adding real value. I wasn’t creating art.

I think it’s so easy to slide into the act of “doing”; of keeping up appearances and pretending to yourself that you’re actually working. But work, the real work is not about how many boxes you check. It’s about what you bring to each of those boxes. It’s about the focus, the thought and the, well, passion, that you bring to each task. At Actionable, one of our core values is to Create Something Exceptional in everything you do. Checking boxes is not exceptional. Breathing your own personal power into each little task; that’s something special. That’s what makes the difference.

If you’re not going to be able to give something your all, I believe it’s better to admit it up front and figure out another way to address it. The alternative — sliding into that passive grey zone of mechanical execution — is depressing. And it isn’t fair to your colleagues, clients and supporters. They deserve your best.