Time, Rhythm, and Magic

At a breakfast session of emerging social enterprisers last week, or maybe the week before, we guest speakers were asked about time — how do you manage so many competing priorities (presumably, without going crazy, which in my case presumes much).

While we could not offer the wished-for answer, Here is the key to a secret stash of extra hours, we did have a few things to suggest. My first thought was commiseration. This time and rhythm thing is my struggle, too. My second thought was a suggestion: lean on your team because different members bring different best skill areas and different rhythms. The first thought of my colleague (the warm, tough change entrepreneur Marty Schwartz, founder of Vehicles for Change) was to offer advice he gives his kids, and I’m paraphrasing: Want more time? It’s simply magic. Focus. And pocus — all the distractions fade away. 

Fair enough and right on, and I’m honestly going to use that mantra. But it’s tough for people like me who see how everything is related and who find meaning everywhere we look. Marty is absolutely right. For me, it’s just easier said than done. For some of us business owners and execs—and for organizations that have exceptionally creative, integrative, intuitive, connective, impulsive, expressive characters—we have to work with, but mostly against type. Our energy goes where attention flows  (yikesey truth: I read that in the late eighties in a book called The Urban Shaman, but it’s true, right?).

And so what our team tries to do for our own work, and what we help clients to articulate and use is a strategy screen. In most engagements, we help clients develop a strategy screen to filter for the best, most promising partners, funding, and opportunities. Most of the screens include criteria for weighing corporate mission (soul, really), strategic direction, margin, and leverage or expansion of meaningful relationships.

Giving some thought to your organization’s essential purpose and strategic path will help. Determining your “true north” (Focus!) will make it easier (although not necessarily easy) to allow the distractions (even the interesting, shiny ones) to disappear (Pocus!).