Many people want to be effective at what they do but many times fall short of their own expectations. These are the ways you can become the best version of yourself at work.Our words define us, not just what we say but how we say it. Even the most innocent phrases you say every day affect you and other people even more than you think. The words in the list below will make you recognize some of the things you say without even realizing it. Even if you don’t really mean anything by them, these statements undermine your effectiveness as a leader.
So what do little phrases reveal about your leadership? Two things.
First, our words reflect our beliefs. Especially the little phrases that slip out without giving them much thought. They expose convictions that are worth letting go of.
Second, they matter because each of these five phrases I’m sharing with you is a lie, not in the horrible moral sense, but in the sense that they’re actually not true. Of all the lies we tell, the lies we tell ourselves are the most deadly because they follow us everywhere we go in life and leadership.
Taking the time to choose your words about how you handle time is one small step out of the maelstrom of constant busyness and low productivity that kills both your leadership and your life. However, to be truly effective, you need a strategy and a new system that gets time, energy and priorities working in your favor.
Try to eliminate all of these phrases, and even though it will be hard, if only because it’s a habit. You will become a better leader as a result.
1. I Didn’t Get a Chance to…
It’s so easy to say you didn’t get a chance to do something. You didn’t get a chance to get that report done, or write that email you promised someone. Actually, you did get the chance to do whatever you said you didn’t get a chance to do. You just didn’t take it.
Imagine what might happen if you started admitting to yourself that you had all the chances in the world to do whatever you needed to do. Only that you just didn’t take them. Hours and minutes don’t discriminate. They let you do whatever you decide to do. You just didn’t decide to do it.
2. I Just Don’t Have the Time for That
That phrase is one of the most frequently uttered responses anytime someone asked some people to do anything new or extra. Guess what? All high impact people I admire who produce so many great things with their life don’t get any special treatment. They get 24 hours in a day. Just like you and me.
You have the time and I have the time, just like we had the chance. That sounds like a small thing, but if you do it consistently, it can be revolutionary. Try it for a week. Stop saying you don’t have the time (because you do). Start admitting you didn’t make it. When you (silently) admit you aren’t going to make the time, it forces you to ruthlessly evaluate your priorities. You’ll realize that never making time for your mom, or your most important priorities—or a life dream—is a mistake.
And when you’re dead honest with yourself about not making the time to work out, or work on your top priorities, it’s so much easier to change.
3. I’m Busy
Mediocre leaders wear busyness as a badge of honor: Look at how busy I am. I must be important. Before you think I’m judging, someone once said, “I used to wear busyness as a badge of honor when I was in my 30s. Then I burned out.” Busyness is not a sign of effectiveness. It’s a sign you can’t manage your life. So why tell people you’re not effective?
If you feel too busy, do something about it. Then you won’t feel compelled to tell anyone how busy you feel.
4. I Can Squeeze That In
A former approach to time management was to squeeze as much in as possible. Quite a number of overstressed professionals admit that the phrase “I can squeeze that in.” used to be a mantra of theirs.
With time, it consistently becomes more difficult to do when your responsibilities grow by leaps and bounds. That strategy has a lid: Eventually, you can’t squeeze anything else in because nobody’s making any more time.
Instead, learn to say no nicely. And to carefully assess your priorities and from that, determine what you will and won’t do. You can’t squeeze everything in. And if you do, it will eventually squeeze you so hard there’s nothing left.
Surprisingly, when you stop trying to squeeze everything in, your capacity as a leader doesn’t shrink; it grows.
5. I Just Can’t
Being overworked is a common feeling, when not well managed we end up turning down great opportunities by saying things like “I just can’t.” My guess is that even recently, you’ve probably said I can’t to something you really wanted to do. Like an expansion, or a vacation, or a promotion, or some meaningful time with God, or training for that half marathon. Want to hear the bad news? You can. You really can.
As Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, says, you can do anything, just not everything. Everything competes with anything. When your priorities are confused and you’ve chosen everything over anything, your dreams die.
If you stop saying I just can’t and start admitting that you actually can, you will begin to clear your life of the lower value things that are robbing you of what could bring you the highest value.