Lessons from the Past – Perspectives for the Future

Have you had this experience?

I know a number of people who can look at their calendars and tell you where they’ll be in 15 minute increments for the next month. They’re incredibly efficient. They’ve got the latest app that ties their calendar to their emails, Instagram, to their pulse rate, and tells them the time, weather.

If they’re not sleeping, they’re doing.

How is effectiveness different from efficiency?

They’re both important. However, being effective means you’re achieving big outcomes. Jeff Bezos could have scheduled his time organizing his sock drawer, but he built Amazon.com instead. That’s the fundamental difference.

But the question is, “Am I efficient or am I effective?” There is a huge difference.

Here are two contrasts in people that show the difference between efficiency and outcome:

  • The “Do or Die” Guy – I really learned a lot from him. He was a c-suite level executive several years ago who made a “do or die list” every day. This list contained what he’d give his all to do—actions that would strongly impacted his company, family, and future. Sometimes the list was long, and other times it had one item. He always focused on outcomes.
  • The “I’m here for your scheduling pleasure” executive – This guy taught me a lot about what not to do. He was a company president who had an open calendar where anyone could log on to it and put anything on it they wanted to. People in his organization were confused and adrift because he had no focus.

My Boss, Uncle Grady – I had an early boss when I was in my 30’s who taught me the importance of outcomes. I frankly have no idea what he kept his calendar on. He loved friends and golf. He gave me projects that were high profile—we would have major issues if we failed. He made me believe the project was cool, that I would be cool if I accomplish it, and that the project would make a big difference.

To say the least, Grady didn’t micromanage. He wanted us to produce events for our community where we were expected to organize a whole event with everything from vendors and booths to tickets and toothpicks.

How were we supposed to pull it off? He gave you a couple names of people who had done it before, and the rest was up to you. I had absolutely no experience, and opened a convention center from the architecture to the opening acts.

Sometimes we all get distracted from outcomes, and when I did, he would simply say, “Hey, Jack, are you an order-taker or do you make things happen?” I would quickly get back on course.

Today there is some much technology, process, and social media that we can be led to believe that process and calendar are outcomes. We must fight to keep our focus on outcomes as why we schedule.

What is on your “do or die list” today?