Want monumental success? Strip mental weight and bulk up on lightness!

When I worked at Suncor, the company would physically re-shuffle people periodically to bring teams closer together. A couple days before our group’s move, bins showed up at our desks to kick off the process of sorting, purging and packing. It’s amazing how much crap (aka, vendor knickknacks) you can accumulate over time. Even after pitching a lot of stuff, our bins were full.

And then there was Steve. While we filled the recycle bin, Steve kept working on his action list. He was productive while we were just ‘busy’. At the very last moment Steve opened an empty bin to add his only item to be moved: a coat hanger. No paper, no trophies, no arsenal of branded pens.

You can give a car a big engine and Costco-size gas tank, but it will never go as fast or as far as one with half the weight. When Mazda designed its latest sports car, they focused on keeping it light. They removed 100 kilograms over the old model by doing things like drilling small holes in parts you can’t see, shaving off a gram at a time. Every gram saved improves handling, fuel efficiency, and speed.

You can do the same thing to your ability to work, and now is the best time as you begin a new year.

Changing Your Mind

As you aim to succeed in 2019, you want to move as quickly as possible. That mean dropping things that weigh you down. Consider my personal weight reduction hit list. How many things can you remove?:

  • Piles of paper on desk
  • Files on computer desktop that don’t get opened
  • Browser bookmarks to sites not visited and articles still not read
  • A growing Jenga stack of magazines
  • Books on the shelf you meant to read five years ago
  • Inbox emails more than 6 months old
  • Clothes and shoes that haven’t been worn in the last 3 years
  • Cosmetics and jewelry that will never be used
  • Crappy old pens
  • ‘Friends’ that are always negative
  • To do list items that never rank in the top 5
  • Debt that could be paid off
  • Unused software and apps
  • Goals you’ve lost the heart for
  • Tasks that you’ve always hated

Be ruthless and push yourself to dump as much as you can. Donate the clothes. Start a new action list. One of my clients deleted 17,000 emails in a single day. These things just take up space and rarely provide future benefit. You will feel the weight come off.

But this is only half the solution. We need to add lightness. Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?  Consider the hydrophobic swimsuit. Their ability to repel water allows swimmers to slide through the pool even faster. Adding lightness to our work is accomplished in the way we approach life. Consider:

  1. Refresh your wardrobe and get a new haircut; Dress the way you want to feel.
  2. Let someone else clean your house and drive you to work.
  3. Close your office door or put up a sign that declares you are ‘In the Working Zone’.
  4. Compress your work into six hours and leave early.
  5. Plan to travel somewhere new or a place you love this year.
  6. Read something; Focus on a neglected area of development (see my related article on avoiding obsolescence) or explore a new topic.
  7. Take someone for coffee and invest in getting to know them.
  8. Surround yourself with photos and art that inspires.
  9. Delegate tasks you shouldn’t be doing at your level.
  10. Add activities that make you feel good (volunteering, hobbies).
  11. Evaluate your team members strengths and think strategically about how to reallocate assignments to maximize success.
  12. Reflect on your successes.
  13. Renounce fear and reset your attitude with positive expectations.

This is how leaders I coach set the stage to get incredible results. Jumpstart the year by leaving behind what drags you down and adopting mental lightness.\

Thoughtfully yours,

Jeff Skipper

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Jeff Skipper
Jeff Skipper is an expert in accelerating change. Clients such as Shell, Goldman Sachs and The Salvation Army have engaged him to achieve dramatic results during strategic transformation by wrapping complex change in motivating mission. He has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and HP’s enterprise.nxt. Jeff holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Change Management Professional.