Too many balls, not enough boxes

HAPPY SILLY SEASON ... or is it? 

Silly means idiotic, stupid, brain-dead, senseless ... and I suspect for some of you, that's exactly what December and the crazy-busy lead up to Xmas holidays could be described as.  I see many racing around madly trying to get so much done before key people are uncontactable [read: disappear until mid-January], and in the same period, feel obligated to go to every end-of-year function that throws an invitation in their in-box.  Mindless mayhem.

For others, the first day of December means decorations up and tools down. I hear it all the time: 'once you hit December, you might as well forget starting anything or contacting anyone until mid-Jan'.  Just take it easy; reflect, relax, and recoup. Like: 'I'll think about next year when it arrives ... until then, bottoms up. Cheers to emptying conscious brains and copious bottles.' 

My first point is: choices peeps ... we all have them. 

While others may be already slowing down and getting ready for a holiday break, I'm ramping it up a notch or two.  No, not with present buying or parties; with increased proposal enquiries [in response to organisations planning their PD needs for 2020], broadening connections globally [exciting new direction], establishing a new enterprise structure, developing online programs, creating marketing strategies, writing new content ... you get the picture. 2020 project planning is coming out of my head faster than I can systemise it.  My office is a high energy zone.

Now, I'm no superwoman. There's no such thing. Just to be fair; superman doesn't exist either.

You may have heard me speak about the 3 brain areas that makes up our core in presentations or workshops. Well, I've always had no shortage of big-picture core ideas; creative at heart, can-do belief in gut, messy overwhelm in head. Yep, managing the head [over-thinking] by planning out, then systemising ideas into achievable actions has always been my greatest struggle.

Those of you who have attended my 'Spot the Difference' Vital INSIGHT workshops and completed your DISC behaviour type profile, will get this next bit. My DISC profile is spot-on and clearly at play here: 

~ extreme 'D' is driving urgent strategic change

~ equally extreme 'I' is full of audacious, innovative ideas

~ lowly 'C' is under stress having to create detailed plans with steps and tick-box task lists to follow [grrrr!]

~ almost non-existent 'S' has got no time or patience for that shit or any other 'go slow' blockages. 

Slow and steady [read: methodical planning and plodding] is definitely not my style.

So, at this time of the year, the thought of dropping all those bright and bouncy ideas to put my feet up in December, feels like such a waste of a valuable month. And the bonus is, while others are either in shut down or silly season modes, there are way less emails, messages and other daily distractions. YAH, my daily emails have halved already. 

That's why I've chosen to have a deliberate December; focused on actively building more 'C' behaviour muscle for project development and dedicated action planning. Why? ... Why not? 

My second point and challenge to you is: Why not NOW? ... Why get distracted with season silliness? Why wait? 

Now - to sort out the excitable, idea creating overwhelm brain. The problem is when I have the time to explore ‘what else’ and think bigger, I tend to toss up too many colourful balls into the air before I've created the boxes [or frameworks] for them to fall into and become parts of a bigger project. 

So here's what I've planned to do about that during December: 

1. Create, colour-coded boxes, plan out and prioritise them [read: separate project frameworks].  Establish simple online systems and processes that will turn my colourful ideas [picture: office wall covered in butchers paper with post-it notes], into doable chunks and tracked progress plans. Ready and able to scale up.

2. Learn and embed new habits. When you take a good hard, honest look at your strengths and your vulnerable bits, even though many coaches tell us to just focus on our strengths [or what energises us], it's madness to completely ignore vulnerable areas that block our ability to grow or to become high performers.  New habits are not easy or fun [and initially can be energy draining], but necessary to lift performance levels. I'm trialling a globally renowned, high performance journal this month, to see if it helps me focus and be accountable for the 3 things I'm prioritising each day.

3. Build an 'A' Team. One of the biggest lessons 2019 has taught me: I can't successfully make the difference I want to in this world - alone. Three things I'm doing about that: 

~ building a personal Board of Directors ... those who can lift me higher and keep me accountable [see page #285  of my book - Rock Your Stripes for more on that]

~ engaging a skills-mix advisory team for the bigger projects ... recognising I will never have ALL the skills needed to ensure success, nor do I need to. On refleciton, I've realised how much I miss working as a team. Energy levels lift when you surround yourself with energetic, passionate people ... all working towards the same greater-good goal.

~ upgrading my ‘silent, behind-the-scenes’ partner’s position into an equal footing, focused on executive business management and marketing manager role. We've often been called the 'dymanic duo' ... time to fully embrace that.

4. Health - physical and mental capability, is everything. I tend to throw all my energy into my work. Always have and often to the detriment of personal health. I have learned some valuable lessons along the way, and know I do my best days when I start them well [with gentle sunrise beach walks, yoga stretches and mindful meditation]. What I'm also adding to that is being more mindful of energy needs during the day, to better support this high energy creative phase; regular stretches, swims and nourishment breaks [rather than suddenly realising it's 3:30pm and I've not stopped for lunch break]. Oh, and sunset head-clearing long walks, so I leave my office at 5:30 pm. Balance.

OMG, I hear you gasp and think:  Did she not consider this stuff before?  Did she just wake up to the basics of how to run a successful enterprise? 

No, of course not. I've heard, read and considered this advice plenty of times. I've had good intentions before. Hell, I've even made those dreadful New Year’s resolution lists just before 1 January ticks over ... but I know from experience that intentions don't turn into actions or desired outcomes if you don’t take time to put the frameworks in place, engage help and spread the load.

Yes, I’ve dropped some balls along the way and put a few others into the ‘when-I-get -time’ basket.  Well, this month – I’m making and taking that time.

So, my thought-provoking final points are: 

Don't just reflect, refresh and reboot the same-old stuff.

Don't just get excited about 2020 ideas and goals.

Don't just toss up those colourful balls in the air and see where they land.

Take the time to put the structures, systems, plans and task lists in place to make them happen. 

Make December count towards a successful 2020 and beyond. 

 See you on the flipside. 

Written by Jilinda Lee - recognised leadership coach and mentor for leaders and managers, Chartered Manager ambassador for the Institute of Managers and Leaders, and Regional Leader for the Lean In global movement – encouraging and enabling more women to step up into lead roles.

Founder and Managing Director of Vital Leaders, Jilinda is a passionate presenter, thought-leading commentator, and writer on all things leadership related. 

Jilnda's mission is to raise the leadership bar, by developing more dynamic leaders and boosting diversity at the decision-making tables. 

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