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July 2010 - Leaders Must Prioritize

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

July 2010

Leaders Must Prioritize

Leaders must prioritize. Although Stephen Covey popularized a story about big rocks nearly twenty years ago, I first heard it at least a decade earlier.

Here is the story: A man took a large bucket, piled it full of fist-sized rocks and then asked his audience if the bucket was full. They said it was. Next he got some small gravel and added it to the bucket. When he asked if the bucket was full now, they weren’t sure. Next he got some fine sand and poured it in the bucket. By now, the audience was pretty sure he wasn’t finished. Next he poured in some water and asked the audience what he just demonstrated. Someone replied it showed people could always fit more things into their lives if they worked at it. “No,” said the speaker, “it shows that you have to put the big rocks in first.”

On the job, some things are important; for example: if my boss thinks it is important, it is a priority for me; if my failure to act causes problems later on, then action is a priority; if what I am doing or not doing hinders my family, friends or colleagues, then correcting my behavior is a priority. Low priority things include: reading the next chapter of a novel, spending a couple of hours walking through the home improvement center or logging on to facebook every day. If I get the important things done first, then I can do these lower priority activities.

The 80/20 rule says 80% of our results come from just 20% of our efforts. In a company, the top 20% of clients bring in 80% of the revenue. In life, certain things you do (20%) will account for the majority (80%) of your happiness and success. While these numbers might not always work out to be exactly 80/20, the principle is true. Leaders must decide what’s important and focus on those things.

My life priorities are God first; family and friends, second; job, third. My “job”—teaching college students, directing leadership conferences and speaking or training on communication and leadership—is my passion. Sometimes my passion takes quite a bit of time, but I remember my priorities. Fortunately I have the support of my family and friends; and I can serve God by doing my job to the best of my ability.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

July 2010 - Leaders Must Prioritize
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