Smart Leaders Understand: Sometimes It Just Doesn’t Matter

by Alli Polin on October 11, 2012

Leadership means focusing on what's most important

When I lived and worked in DC in my high stress, crazy life… I rushed, I ran around, I did everything I could to fit everything in.  Kids to school?  Check.  At work before most others?  Check.  Client calls?  Groceries?  Dinner?  Bills paid?  Laundry?  Conference Call?  Tweet Chat?  Check, check, check!

The pace of life in Alice Springs is much slower.  “No worries, Mate” is not just something people say, it’s how they live.  I’ve been here two months and have not yet really downshift from the “high stress” life to the “no worries” life.  Does it matter?  Actually it does matter when I’m impacting others.  Pushing them, pulling them to get things done faster, better and my way.  That’s not leadership, it’s just being bossy.

This morning, my son and daughter wanted to cuddle before school.  I gave them the two minute ultimatum – we can’t be late and had lots to do before rushing out of the house.  Things didn’t go as planned from there.  My son wanted me to pick his clothes, daughter to be escorted to the bathroom, breakfast to be made, and teeth to be brushed…  Let’s just say lots of tears followed.  Shockingly, shouting “we’re going to be late!” didn’t get them moving any faster.

It just doesn’t matter

They are in first and third grade.  I don’t think that a tardy will be on their college applications.

It just doesn’t matter

That I think that being on time instead of five minutes late is more important than my children starting their day with less stress, a good breakfast, and love.

It just doesn’t matter

As leaders, we need to decide what really matters and what can slide.  What things are OK if another path is taken than the one we envisioned?

It just doesn’t matter

  • When the conference-call starts two minutes late because we’re waiting for the last caller to arrive
  • The person that you gave “very clear directions” to came to you for clarification two more times
  • The code you just wrote isn’t working quite right before lunch and you really wanted to step out for a bite but didn’t meet your self-imposed deadline
  • The team needs another day to finish up a pitch presentation to you and asked to move the meeting

It just doesn’t matter

  • In a vendor presentation, their demo technology isn’t working correctly
  • Your boss presented your work at the senior executive meeting without mentioning your name but gave credit to “the team”
  • The project manager is out sick today with a terrible cold and the big deadline is next month
  • A colleague that you invited to your meeting doesn’t like the seating configuration and is determined to change it before the meeting starts
  • When handed the final version of the presentation that you outlined you notice that the person that helped you to format the document used square bullets instead of the round bullets… and you hate the squares

Leadership is knowing what matters

Let it go.  Breathe.  Show up as the YOU that you most want to be.

Life isn’t perfect – it can be wonderful, messy, irritating, juicy but it’s always real.  Real life in real time requires real personal leadership to successfully make it through.  Leadership at home, work and in life starts with a relationship with other people.  Seeing others as people with needs, dreams and imperfections – in other words, human.  Just like you.

Focus on what really matters most

The great news is we always have a choice.  What choice are you going to make today?

(Photo credit)

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