Set your Priorities: Putting First Things First

Putting first things first is likely one of the most important and most difficult challenges we face as adults. There are so many pressures and all of them come with the insistence that they are the MOST important. When everything is the MOST important, paralysis ensues and nothing gets done.

Earlier this week I was speaking with a student in the elevator about her day. She commented that it was a busy day, but that she was there to finish a degree she had delayed years earlier. She went on to explain that when she had her daughter, she stopped school to focus on her daughter with the intent of starting back when her daughter started Kindergarten. Her daughter started Kindergarten this fall and she started back on her degree, determined to get it finished. She obviously knows how to prioritize her life and understands how to put first things first. While her choices may not be the same for you, it is still up to you to make conscious choices about your priorities.

While you are in the season of getting your degree, don’t be easily pulled away. Jesus, in talking about the cost of discipleship in Luke 14:25ff, urges those listening to count the cost with the realization that following him will be costly, but will also be worth everything.

The same concept applies, although with obviously lesser consequences, regarding the pursuit of your academic goals. You have counted the cost and started your degree. Don’t treat this casually by missing nights unnecessarily, or coming late unless unavoidable, by not completing your homework, or plagiarizing your work. This is YOUR future; Put first things first.

Everything is not of equal importance, and the importance of different priorities changes over time. Keeping the first things first is the surest path to success. Take the time at least yearly, but preferably once a quarter to evaluate the different priorities in your life. You can always find an excuse to delay your goals and procrastinate, but the one who suffers when you do that, in the long-run, is you and potentially your family. Put first things first.

 

Encouragement

I’m sitting at my desk this morning and receive a phone call. It was from a student. She was surprised that I answered the phone and was prepared to leave a message, so it caught her off guard for a minute. We chatted a bit and then she got down to what she called about.

It seems she received a letter in the mail from me yesterday. She picked up her mail and pulled into her drive and pondered whether or not to open it, thinking it was a bill or some other kind of bad news. She has been going through some difficult challenges and didn’t know if she could handle another piece of bad news. Still, she steeled herself and opened the letter, only to discover it was a congratulatory letter for her making the Dean’s List. She said she sat there cried happy tears and has read and re-read the letter several times.

All I did was send the letter, she was the one who put in the hard work to achieve this honor, but she was so appreciative of my acknowledgment of her effort. I have to be honest I got a little teary listening to her.

The faster we go the less there seems time to give a compliment or recognize the efforts of those who are truly giving their best . . . and the more these kind of encouragements are needed. I know I like to feel appreciated, and I suspect we all do. So, be a Leader, let your people know you recognize the work they are doing and make it your goal to be an encourager to someone every day. We don’t have to allow our culture or society to drive us to be cogs in some machine determined to use us up and leave us empty. We are created in the image of God and that is all about relationship. Relationships are built and nurtured when we take the time to value each other.

Be Present in the Moment

Being present in the moment is one of the secrets of level 5 leaders. This is a skill that is often ignored or discounted by those aspiring to leadership who are busy trying to be all things to all people. Great leaders know how to come fully into the moment and focus their attention, intelligence, and relational energies in working with people and issues.

For more on this check out the short video below:

Great Followers Make the Best Leaders

This seems obvious, but you can’t really be a great leader until you have learned how to be a great follower.  There are several types of followers: the actively disengaged, the slacker, the confronter, the “yes” man and the fully engaged.  Each one has specific characteristics, however, it is the fully engaged Follower who rises to become the great Leader.

For more on this check out the short video below:

When to (or NOT to) Bleed

Think of a continuum with health at one end, then scratches, then minor cuts, then major cuts, then open wounds and then death at the other end. You can lose a little blood and still be fine.  If you lose more blood you will be weak. If you lose too much blood you will be dead. This is a metaphor for dealing with political challenges at home and at work.

For more on this check out the short video below:

Put your own oxygen mask on 1st

You know how on an airplane trip the flight attendant goes over the safety instructions before the flight begins? One of the instructions is to take care of your own oxygen mask before trying to help others. The point is that if you don’t get oxygen yourself, you will be unable to help others, i.e. you can’t help anyone if you are passed out from lack of oxygen.

For more on this check out the short video below:

Administrative Resolve

Administrative resolve is the willingness of leadership to make hard decisions and then stick with them when the going gets tough. Administrative Resolve is quite possibly the most important aspect of effective leadership. With Administrative Resolve a strategy is defined and pursued to its end. Without Administrative Resolve second guessing and lack of focus results in mediocrity and failure.

For more on this check out the short video below:

“I’m Doing my Best”

Sometimes you will hear people say “ I’m doing my best” or “I tried my hardest”. Perhaps you have said these words yourself. Think about the last time you said those words – now be honest, was the effort you put forth really your BEST?  What is sad, is that more often than not those who say these words believe what they are saying.  . . . Check out the short video below for more on this: