Busy Trap: Leadership Starts with Leading Oneself

2 Comments October 20, 2008 / Posted in Mindful Leadership

Good friend and former TEC Chair, Corey Olynik, has been writing a weekly column for a number of years called: Ideas? Questions! I’ve subscribed to it when I first found out about it. I thought I’d share his Idea/Question for this week of October 20th. A most helpful column to become what Lee Thayer so aptly puts it: Become a Virtuoso Question Asker!


We’ve fallen into a trap and it’s killing so many of us. Quite simply, we’ve mixed up the important notion of urgency with the destructive practice of busy-ness. It’s so clear, why do we have to re-visit it almost daily? We must be urgent about advancing our mission. We must be intentional about lining up our people to deliver on our promise. We must trust, empower, direct, build accountability, frankly, we must lead rather than control what’s in front of us.

This week’s question:

Take a close look at your calendar for this week; which of the scheduled events actually advance the mission of your organization (your movement)? Which do not? What doesn’t need you? What shouldn’t need you? Okay, what will you intentionally not do this week? That said and done, what important strategic notion will get some of your fresh attention?

My comments to Corey and his question of the week:

My two daughters were raised with the saying: If you want to know the future, create it. I would at times tell people that it was indelibly written on the back of their eyelids.

When I looked up the definition for motivation years ago it took me to motivate which took me to motive: the goal or objective of one’s actions. Or my old college dictionary from ’59: that within the individual rather than without which incites to action; any idea, need, emotion or organic state that prompts to an action.

This left me with the realization that one person cannot be motivated by another; it is internal. So I can’t motivate or empower anyone. They can only motivate or empower themselves. I can only empower and motivate myself.

So to your question Corey, I am looking closely at MY calendar and revisiting what are my intentions and how am I putting them into my schedule each week to do what needs to be done to accomplish what needs to be accomplished to get me to my goals. As Nikki Nemerouf would say: Don’t focus on the behaviors, focus on the desired and positive outcomes. Or I might add: Focus on the desired and positive outcomes of one’s actions.

So “to motivate” is really to provide someone with a motive so they can use “their” internal focused outcome, intention, goal or objective for creating the necessary actions for themselves to do what needs to be done..

2 Comments... What do you think? Subscribe via RSS
  1. JG said on October 21st, 2008 at 4:34 am

    It was inspiring to read your thoughts on “The Busy Trap” article. I like the “If you want to know the future, create it” line.

    Becoming mindful of where I want to end up and what I am doing now to move in the direction of where I want to go, has proven quite useful to me in terms of achieving goals and holding to purposes.

    So often do people use “motivation” as an excuse for not doing what they know needs doing. It is much more difficult, yet often necessary, to simply begin doing, without waiting for the gust of “motivation” to arrive and “carry” one through the tough decision or task.

  2. Alagse said on November 2nd, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Typically a leader cannot avoid giving some time to this thing called “Urgency” or “Emergency”. In fact the reason why a leader finds himself on 24X7 routine on dealing with “urgency” is that either he has a dearth of leadership at lower levels who could have handled it or could have even averted the crisis for rising at the first place.
    Leadership accross the organization is one solution to escape from the “Busy trap”.

Join the discussion by leaving a comment...

How do I change my avatar?

Go to gravatar.com and upload your preferred avatar.

Please visit WP-Admin > Options > Snap Shots and enter the Snap Shots key. How to find your key