TIME TO SPARE
We stand today in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a global catastrophe that has significantly impacted our communities, our nation, and the world. The immediate effects of the crisis are palpable; we walk in silent streets past shuttered businesses and schools and parks closed to the public. With no clear end in sight, the challenge presented by the coronavirus is made more difficult for all of us.
Still, it is important to look for positives that we can glean from this circumstance. One other immediate consequence of the coronavirus, for example, is that many of us now have “extra” time on our hands. Time is, in fact, one thing the coronavirus has returned to many of us. Entrepreneurs and an entrepreneurs business team are frequently challenged with time in the sense of not having enough of it. Today, the challenge is likely reversed as we may be struggling to find ways to use “extra” time productively as normal business activity has slowed to a crawl.
This article provides ideas to help business leaders make the most of their “extra” time during the coronavirus shutdown.
Imagine if someone had told you six months ago that you would soon have time to reflect and reassess the direction of your life and your life purpose. If you are like many business leaders I know, six months ago you would likely have said “Yeah, right”. Today, you likely are in that very situation. This is the first point. Begin with gratitude for the opportunity that has presented itself! I think this is the starting point for making productive use of our extra time. Step back and recognize that there remains much for which we can be thankful and let this reflection inform your choices during your downtime. Commit yourself now to being thoughtful and choosing well how to use this time and you will soon find the time filled and well spent.
Time Don’t Run Out on Me
The first suggestion allows us to calm down and focus and puts us in a frame of mind to be productive. Now, let’s look at several additional ideas you can consider to optimize the time now available to you. These ideas can be applied at any time, regardless of where you are in your personal journey. Here is the list:
• Reflect on your personal purpose;
• Create an opportunities list;
• Make a decision on one BIG idea and one small idea;
• Create your vision;
• Build your plan;
• Write down and share your work with those you trust; and,
• Enjoy your time well spent!
Reflect on your Personal Purpose
Peter Drucker famously opined that the purpose of a business is “to create a customer”. While no doubt true, Drucker’s statement does not consider the intangible aspects of business purpose. What do I mean by intangible aspects of business purpose? I believe businesses are built on the dreams of the founders. For this reason, business purpose should ideally flow from the personal purpose and vision, also referred to as the WHY, of the owners. A strong connection between personal purpose and business purpose will give energy to your role as a leader and visionary.
This brings us to the second idea. Use the time you now have to focus on your personal purpose rather than your business purpose. I established my personal life purpose as helping people, teams, and organizations grow to their fullest human potential. When I established my business, Cornerstone3, I determined my business purpose of helping entrepreneurs build great and valuable businesses while enjoying peace of mind and personal freedom based on thoughtful consideration of my personal purpose. So, use the time now available to reconnect to, review, and, if necessary, define your personal purpose.
The Opportunity List
When was the last time you took stock of opportunities? This is a good time to stop and think about opportunities that are either available to you now or that may arise coming out of the coronavirus crisis. Maybe you have opportunities to begin learning a new skill, join a community organization, or begin a home project that has been consistently delayed. Create a list and you might be surprised at the many opportunities available to you.
Once you have your opportunity list, prioritize the list based on your interest in the opportunity and other criteria you identify as important to you. Also, keep in mind that this process of creating an opportunity list can also be applied in your business- a tool for stimulating ideas and discussion with your leadership team. Some factors you may want to consider when prioritizing your opportunity list are as follows:
• Time investment required;
• Money investment required;
• Risk associated with pursuing a specific opportunity;
• Personal satisfaction;
• What area of life needs fulfillment;
• Health considerations – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual;
• Family considerations;
• Financial considerations;
• Friends and community; and,
• Your business – current needs especially.
So, get started building your list! Opportunity is always in season if we only take the time to look.
We accomplish nothing without making decisions. Author Eli Goldratt’s book on project management, Critical Chain, presents the idea of making a decision on one project as critical and another project as secondary as integral to ensuring objectives keep moving forward and project deadlines are achieved when time and resources are limited. This concept can be expressed as making a decision on one BIG idea and one small idea. The way it works is that by prioritizing one project (i.e., the BIG idea) and identifying a secondary and smaller project (i.e., the small idea), the decision maker is able to pick up the secondary project and work on it when the primary project is delayed or unable to be worked on. In this way, the leader is able to keep both projects moving forward.
You previously created and prioritized your list of opportunities. If you have selected multiple opportunities to pursue, you can apply the BIG idea / small idea framework to the opportunities to help you create the optimal path to success of your projects.
Do you have a big, hairy, audacious goal, or BHAG? If not, now may be the perfect time to create one. With specific opportunities in view, the next step is to clarify your vision regarding those opportunities. What will success look like? What aspect of your personal purpose will be fulfilled? Where does achievement of the goal lead in the future? These are all questions to ask as you brainstorm your BHAG. Brainstorming will allow you to jot down ideas and clarify your vision.
List out the steps you plan to take in pursuing your new opportunities in as much detail as possible. These steps will serve as the roadmap to success for your BHAG. I also recommend sharing your BHAG and project plan with at least one other person whom you trust. Sharing your goals and plans increases the likelihood of follow through and completion by a factor of 10! This gives others you trust an opportunity to be a source of encouragement and support as you move forward with your plan. Your inner circle can also provide ideas and feedback to help you further clarify your action plans. The simple act of sharing your goal demonstrates both to yourself and others your commitment to your BHAG.
The Days Just Fly By
We started this article with the ominous chords of coronavirus. By now, having taking action to make the most of the “extra” time created by the coronavirus pandemic, you are probably feeling at least a little refreshed and recharged. This is a good thing. We should never lose sight of the fact that time is limited for all of us. It is important to make the most of the time we have and enjoy life!
Entrepreneurs and an entrepreneurs business team frequently feel shorted on time. The current crisis has given some time back to you. The suggestions provided above offer a roadmap for you to make the most of this opportunity and to be refreshed and recharged when the time comes to reengage with your business.