One of my clients came to his most recent coaching session with a unique complaint. “I leak,” he said. I was a little surprised, so I asked, “what does that mean.” (I was also a little afraid of the answer, but as a coach it is my job to ask)
The client explained his problem. “I take in everything we talk about in coaching sessions and in our CEO Club. I take notes and do my best to capture all the key principles, but it seems like as soon as I leave the room and head back to work, I forget most of what we learned. I leak!”
Now this is a problem I understand. In fact, I think I can safely say with this client, I leak too. The problem happens to most people. As the “stuff” of our work begins to fill up our days, the opportunities for taking on new ideas or tackling new initiatives are compressed into a very small space. Some days I am so busy just keeping up there is no time to do anything but survive. Any new ideas I have learned or new initiatives I have considered are pushed aside by the urgency of the tasks in front of me right now. Sound familiar to anyone?
Having come across this problem many times before, I have discovered three steps that you can use to help stop the leaks.
1. Connect your key ideas to specific initiatives, goals or objectives. Try this. For every idea that comes your way, identify a specific goal, objective or project you could take on to implement or apply that idea. Write the idea down along with the goal, and provide yourself a deadline to implement the idea. Doing this will give the ideas more immediate relevance and provide a concrete way to make sure something happens with them. By the way, don’t be afraid to set goals that reach high and that may not be completed until far down the road. In most cases, the issue is not how quickly to implement a new idea, but how much the idea is able to do to increase the success of your business.
2. Set aside time on your calendar to work on your key initiatives. This is where most of the work to stop the leak happens. Simply, if you don’t put time on your calendar and then discipline yourself to follow the plan your chances of implementing the new idea are slim. In fact, I have found that this simple time management discipline is often one of the most difficult to maintain. In the daily press of the business, it is just too easy to see everything around us a urgent and lose sight of the longer term objectives. If you want to stop the leak, you have to manage the time.
3. Measure your progress regularly and always know the “next step.” One of the reasons it is so hard to plan and implement new ideas is because we don’t have any system to measure our own activity and progress toward the goal. In our coaching, we use a tool that we call the Coaching Journal to help our clients identify their key initiatives, measure their progress, and record next steps. The tool is a powerful asset for business owners who want to manage their time and keep focused on the important issues in their business. It is also a fantastic leak stopper.
So, what other tools have you found that help you achieve the same goals? I would love to hear from other business owners how they capture, retain and implement new ideas.