It’s time to get clear on what really matters!

Last year, after a tumultuous rollercoaster ride of a weekend where I almost committed myself to reshaping our life and putting ourselves under significant financial pressure…(if you’re thinking country real estate here you’d be right), I woke up on the Monday with the kind of clarity that only comes from reengaging with your true north. Fortunately, my husband had the same response!

Several awkward conversations with the real estate agent later, feeling a bit embarrassed and a bit sad as our fantasy life in the ‘country near the sea’ evaporated, we sat down to get really clear about what matters to us. Physically drawing up that list showed us what we intuitively knew in the morning – that while a country house near the sea is still on the horizon, doing it now right now would put at risk a whole lot of things that are more important to us.

Bad life decision averted but wouldn’t it have been so much better if we’d had that list top of mind before we got sidetracked by the bright, shiny alternative!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about some of my clients. Smart, focussed leaders and teams with a Vision statement and a Plan on a Page yet they too are often easily distracted and not at all aligned on what really matters to them.

Shortly after my bright, shiny distraction, I facilitated a strategy session for a tech business who found themselves dropping everything every time a potential buyer came by. I told them the story of the almost purchase and together we went through the ‘what matters’ exercise. What they realised is they had a certain criteria for selling the business and they weren’t at that point yet. The ‘what matters’ list gave them clarity on where their focus needed to be so the bright, shiny in the form of potential buyers, didn’t keep distracting them.

Whether personally or professionally being clear on what matters allows you to be flexible, to notice the market and quickly shift direction or approach, grabbing opportunities as they present themselves while still ensuring you’re not putting at risk the aspects of your life or your business that matter most.

I now facilitate this exercise with almost every team I work with. It brings people together, they acknowledge the different aspects of what matters to each of them and their business, and they look for alignment.

Try it for yourself for work or personally.

What I’m…

Reading: My friend and colleague Donna McGeorge sent me her 3 books on productivity last week: The 25 minute meeting, The first 2 hours, and The 1 Day Refund.

I’m always astounded by the number of hours the leaders I work with spend in meetings that often don’t deliver for a variety of reasons: wrong people there, no pre-work, wrong size group, no agenda, unsure on the purpose, decision makers not in the room etc.

Here’s a tip from the 25 minute meeting: Be picky about who you invite and why. Imagine you are paying (out of your own pocket) all the attendees a fee for showing up. Make sure you (and they) get the best value for money.

Attending: Well of course, the big one in the last few weeks was attending the half day session with leadership expert and Wharton Professor, Adam Grant. I invited 8 of my clients and it was fabulous hearing the different insights each leader gleaned from the session. I shared my key takeouts on LinkedIn so click on the link to view the post and take a look at people’s comments too.

Another thought-provoking event was the final day of Adelaide Writer’s Week. Always love this event to introduce me to new concepts, political and social challenges and prompt some new thinking. I’ll definitely be there for the whole week next year! Thursdays highlight was listening to Ilan Pappé, one of the most influential historians writing today on the history of Israel and Palestine. In conversation with Annabelle Quince, he explained why context matters and so much more.

You can still view the interview online along with some of the other thought provoking ‘Directors Choice Sessions’ via the Adelaide Festival site.

Listening to: The Diary of a CEO podcast episode with Harvard professor Arthur C Brooks. It’s a longish one focussing on happiness and there’s so much to love. Don’t get stuck on the blockbuster video style intro. it’s so much better than the title suggests!

Experimenting with: Last month I mentioned Zach Bush MD 4 minute workout designed to maximise the affect of Nitric oxide on muscle build, metabolism and brain function. The experiment progressed to using it with teams at offsites and I have to say the response was so positive. We laughed, we moved and we energised ready for the next conversation. Give it a try at your next meeting or event! Oh and if you’re in back-to-back Teams calls, stand up and do it every 2 meetings.