Focus on the projects that matter

Focus on the projects that matter. This was a key learning I gained after reading a great book by Peter Cook ( titled “The new rules of management”.

Some of the key take outs from this book included:

  • Get implementing – the best ideas, projects and intentions are meaningless unless some action is taken that brings them into play.
  • Rather than consider whether or not something is true consider whether it’s useful (obviously within an ethical and legal framework) … this helps to create momentum.
  • Fight for three – within any day fight to complete three tasks that matter. Peter talks of how he fights for 3 periods of focused time during any one day. He then extends this to 3 actions for the week and 3 projects for the quarter.

With projects that matter it is about taking action toward a goal that is meaningful for you and your business / organisation. You can fluff around the edges, you can distract and procrastinate but ultimately it will be meaningful and deliberate strategic action that will help create fulfillment when later you reflect on how you spent your time.

This fulfillment reflects the following statement by Henry David Thoreau “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

This is my second read of this book and it’s amazing how you can read something a second time and gain so much more depth and understanding.

Taking time out to evaluate and reflect
Reading this book motivated me to evaluate my activity and whether what I do contributes to those things that matter. I believe this is an important exercise for everyone and why this book resonated with me to the degree that it did. It was applicable at the personal level as much as it was at a team and organisational level.

It also helped me to evaluate how I manage those times when I lack motivation, when I’m just plain exhausted after a big day or week or when I’m in a good old-fashioned funk. My plan for these times is to tick off on those seemingly meaningless but still important tasks that do not require much brain power. And by doing this I can then better engage in solid thinking and working time when my brain returns from its wee sojourn.

It also helps to focus my effort in those wee free moments that appear now and again – in what Matt Church (co-founder of Thought Leaders Business School) calls ‘doing work in the cracks’.

Keeping on with steps toward what matters
Having a plan helps with discipline because I know what I need to do and can just get on and do it. I can keep taking steps toward what matters.

In continuing to take these steps I’m continually inspired by a good friend of mine who co-founded The Solopreneur Revolution and her practice of action, action, action taken daily, weekly, monthly. And talking of which I just visited a project started by a couple of builders and solopreneurs.

They are renovating an old run down industrial soap manufacturing warehouse to create a co-operative microbrewery and small community business incubator. Their vision is to create a communal space where people are having fun … and it’s a vision that matters to the both of them given how hard they’re working.

Big Wednesday

Writing this post reminds me of the cult surfing movie ‘Big Wednesday’ – I say it’s a cult because it seems that only other old time surfers enjoy the movie. Per chance you haven’t come across the movie it is set in the 1960’s with the final scene of the ‘big swell’ set in the mid 1970’s. The pivotal characters are the 3 mates of Jack, Matt and Leroy together with a ‘thread’ character ‘Bear’.

What I love about this movie is the strong theme of friendship and especially the wisdom around this theme as shared by Bear:

  • when you’re down … that’s when you need a friend
  • that’s when you need a friend when you’re wrong … when you’re right you don’t need nothing (sic)
  • friends are the most important thing you’ve got

In my old surfing days I spent many a hour surfing desolate and remote breaks on my own but the best memories have definitely being those times I spent surfing with friends. With people who matter. With mates.

So for me it’s not just about doing work that matters, it’s also about being with people who matter. And perhaps where we can really make a difference, where we can really do something that matters is to do our bit to show other people that they they matter as well.