"The creation of a thousand forests is one acorn."
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you're like most of us, you've had this uncomfortable conversation with yourself -- "I know I need to do something. I just don't know where to start."
When events beyond our control make it impossible to ignore this reality, starting can be even more paralyzing. The good news is you can not only confidently start but also arrive smiling at a successful finish.
Are you ready to get started? I'm going to share with you our One-Success-a-Day Formula.
Success Step 1: Organizing the clutter
One of the reasons we feel overwhelmed is the sheer volume of random ideas and priorities competing for our attention. The first step is to organize our mental storage pod.
As Yogi Bera said, "If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up someplace else."
In a previous post, we shared our Idea Triage Method. It was painfully clear to us that our "great ideas" were getting in the way of practical, productive execution. Not only did the idea triage worksheet help us quickly organize and prioritize, but we unexpectedly overcame the fear of getting started.
Every idea is not a great idea. Some simply need to be abandoned. By working through each triage question, we discovered what was important and gave ourselves permission to dismiss the rest. Freeing up bandwidth to tackle the important is a success.
Now that your mental storage is organized, you're ready to focus on the next step.
Success Step 2: What is the most important idea or priority that you need to complete right now?
There are a lot of factors that determine what deserves your organization's time, attention, and resources. The answer to this question needs to be grounded in practical outcomes and not influenced by passion project drivers.
Think of the outcome of this initiative as your forest. What does that forest look like to you and your organization? Your answers in the Idea Triage workbook have clearly described this for you.
On to the next success. You're ready to make it happen.
Success Step 3: What is your daily action plan?
Forests need acorns to flourish
Now that you have the successful outcome clearly in your mind, think of every small, actionable step --- your acorns --- that will lead to achieving your goal. This will take a few iterations and benefits from team input. Everyone who will contribute to the outcome should be encouraged to share their perspectives on the path forward.
We're committed to checklists. They are visible, focused, actionable roadmaps that clearly outline how your successful outcome will be achieved. Shared checklists are especially effective with the One-Success-a-Day Formula. Firmly planting a checkmark beside each action as it is completed says success.
So gather your team together and create the checklist of every small, actionable step you need to accomplish. These are your acorns.
Success Step 4: Your plan can't wait to get started.
Plans need people to make progress and create checkmarks. To keep the momentum going, here are a few easy tips to kickstart your daily successes.
1. Each action item needs a committed owner.
Be sure you have someone accountable before you begin. This builds team commitment and allows everyone to share in the successes.
2. Commit to completing at least one step every day.
No excuses. Checking done is a success.
3. Allow yourself and your team time to continually evaluate your progress.
Plans are essential, but they must always be flexible. Discovery is part of doing. Don't be afraid to change what isn't working. Learning is a success.
4. Start each day with the most important step, the one you most don't want to tackle.
Do it first. Not second, not later. You'll be amazed at the energy and momentum this early morning success brings to the rest of your day.
5. Prepare for the pleasant unexpected.
As your acorns become trees, a surprising thing happens. New acorns appear. Possibilities you had never noticed before suddenly become obvious and exciting. Connecting new dots is a success.
6. Stay focused.
With new opportunities vying for attention, it's easy to become snared in the cluttered mind trap again. This is why your Idea Triage Worksheet should be a living part of your organization. Simply add this new possibility to the worksheet for the future. Focus leads to success.
7. Recognize your natural mental peaks and valleys.
We all have our personal most productive times. No one performs consistently throughout the day. Being aware of your best times leads to realistic daily successes.
Give yourself permission to stare out the window, take a walk, to meditate. Inspired creativity comes from times of quiet thinking and "what if" wanderings. Create opportunities for new acorns.
9. Silence the nagging fears.
Doubts and fears are natural, especially in times of uncertainty and disruption. The stories we tell ourselves make all the difference. When you feel your anxiety level rising, quiet the stories replaying in your head. Reach for your checklist, take a deep breath, and replace doubt with one success today.
Congratulations! You're ready to create your forest of success, one acorn every day.
Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner. She is fueled by discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner. They actively contribute to each client's success through mutual collaboration, thoughtful business analysis, enterprise software development, technology integration, database design and management, opportunity discovery, business growth strategy, and marketing initiatives.
They believe that lasting value and trust are created through continuously listening, sharing knowledge freely and delivering more than their clients even know they need. As the CIO of their first startup client said, "The value that Quest brings to Cotton States is far greater than the software they develop."