As 2016 winds down and I ramp up for 2017, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a couple of things I’ve read this year. Two books stood out in my business reading and while I learned much from both of them, it was reassuring to realize I was already applying many of the shared lessons in my own work.

First, Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much by Tony Crabbe. This book gave me a boost of confidence about not being busy. My work style tends to be focused and to minimize any multi-tasking. As a consultant, my clients are more concerned about my skills as an analyst and problem solver and deep thinker than an email aficionado. If I’m busy, I’m not solving problems or thinking deeply.

Some of my best problem solving and analysis, comes when I’m doing other things, walking the dog or vacuuming or cooking a complicated meal. I’m sure many of you are like this. These times away from the desk can be just as productive, if not more so, than slamming through a never-ending supply of email. I can’t recall the name Crabbe gave this but I can remember that I was pleased that my time away from the desk to consider a problem were in a manner endorsed.

Another takeaway I received from Busy, was to hone in on the place/time/manner that you are most productive. Part of my job is to write. I write best first thing in the morning. So for some of my biggest projects in 2016 I ignored the feedback, questions and comments about a work in progress that came in late in the day. Instead, I read through them first thing in the morning and then turned off messaging, email and the phone and hunkered down to write. This focused concentration was a definite success factor.

I appreciated Crabbe’s take on getting to the more meaningful and satisfying work, by actively resisting being busy. I don’t want to be busy, I want to be exceptional.

The other book that really drove home some meaningful lessons to me was Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win. This management book  gave some invaluable advice about managing up, managing down, building teams, and taking responsibility for the success of the mission. One of the most important concepts in team work for military missions is commander’s intent. This understanding of the purpose for the project is important in business too.Ultimately, what Extreme Ownership taught me is that I hold the key to success for projects that I’m involved in. If I don’t know something, I have the responsibility to ask. If I am concerned about a particular task, I need to voice the concerns and present viable options.

Thinking through my role in the success of any “mission” that I’m involved with has certainly prompted me to take ownership in a way that I shied away from prior to reading the words of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

My 2017 is prime for extreme ownership and not being busy. Hope yours is too.

Note; If you would like a short read on “commander’s intent” go read Manage Uncertainty with Commander’s Intent.

Constance Ard
December 16, 2017