Of all the ways we can spend our time, we want to spend it in a way that is most valuable to us and most impactful to others.
Too often we fall into the trap of focusing on the urgent rather than the important and that can distract us from those things we do or could do that would be most beneficial.
Sometimes focusing on the wrong thing can be a fun distraction, but other times we may be doing work that is valuable, but it is work that others could be doing instead.
So if we’re doing work that is fun or is valuable, what’s the problem? Well, it isn’t about what is getting done, it is about what isn’t getting done.
When I ask, “what are the things only you can do?” what I mean is, “what are the things that won’t happen unless you are the one to do them?” and “what are the things where you bring a unique talent or perspective and there is no other person in the world who would do this thing exactly like you do?”
It is a question about uniqueness. It is a question about talents and strengths. It is a question about the role that only you can play for those around you.
At home, you may be having a busy week and it is challenging to get meals on the table. Well, with all the meal delivery services available, you aren’t the only one who can cook dinner for your family. But, you are the only one who can sit down with them at the table and have a conversation about everyone’s day. That’s something that won’t happen unless you make it happen.
At work, you may be a manager who has work you know how to do well and that you like to do. You may even tell yourself that you are ‘protecting your team’ by not delegating some of this work that they are equally (if not better) equipped to complete effectively. When you perform work that your team is capable of doing, it means you aren’t using your time to complete the work that only you can do as the manager and leader of your group.
Many a department has continued to do the exact same work in the exact same way year after year. And they do this in an evolving and dynamic environment where businesses must respond and pivot based on new challenges. If the leader of the department is so busy running the business that they don’t take the time to lead the business in a new direction, that group will eventually become irrelevant.
Lastly, as an individual, you have unique combination of talents and strengths shared by nobody else on the planet. There are things you do better than anyone else you know. Maybe it is how you approach solving certain problems. Maybe it is the way you communicate and express yourself. Maybe it is in the artistry of what you create.
Whatever it may be, those are the things that only you can do. Your gift to the world and those around you is to use your limited time and energy to create something unique.
We all get overwhelmed and bogged down from time to time with routine…we need to create the quarterly report, we need to cook dinner, we need to take out the trash.
But, the most successful people never lose sight of what only they can do. They complete the mundane and routine tasks, but they never let those urgent activities become all that they do. They spend most of their time on the activities that leverage their unique talents and strengths.
Consider these two questions as you head into the next month:
- What will not happen unless I take action?
- What do I do better than anyone I know?
Ask those questions and see where the answers lead you.