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Am I in the weeds or planting a seed? For someone who is building something this question might be one of the most important you can ask.  This is especially true for a leader who has visions of creating something with people that adds value and is sustainable.

Most of us have some discipline around establishing goals and priorities for the things that need to be done to achieve those goals. However, no plan survives contact with the enemy.  The enemy is a sick employee whose absence backs up the whole day.  The enemy is an urgent call from a client who has a problem with something you did for them last week.  The enemy is a new employee who is struggling with their first assignment.

All these so-called “enemies” are actually important things for your business or leadership endeavor, but they are insidious in that they draw us into “the weeds.”  This is the place where priorities go out the window and you find yourself engrossed in doing the work that others are equipped and ready to do or that you could schedule for after the “seed planting” is done.

In those moments when the enemy attacks, the simple question to ask is, “Is this a weed or seed?”

The weeds are those items that you can delegate to someone else or delete from your to-do list all together.

The seeds are important tasks that contribute to the growth of your business, your people, or yourself.

Everyone’s weeds and seeds look different based upon your priorities and what you want to accomplish; however, here are seven “seed planting” activities to keep yourself in a strategic mode.

  1. Ask yourself, “What am I working towards?”
  2. Define your top priorities for the next day and for each one answer the question, “If I do nothing else on this priority tomorrow, I will ______________.”
  3. Ask yourself, “Who else can do this?”
  4. Ask yourself, “Do I REALLY need to do this?”
  5. Call a client and ask “How are we doing?”
  6. Take 10 quiet minutes to refocus on what’s most important and how you’ll use the rest of your day
  7. Get out of your office and energize your team

I accept the reality that some days you’ll need to be in the weeds to keep things on track.  Consider the following question to move you forward as the leader you want and need to be.

How long will you stay in the weeds?

What steps will you take to make those types of days fewer and farther between?

Jeff Harmon

Jeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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