You will never get it all done!
My first job out of grad school was managing one product line, no people and a “to do” list that was a mile long.
I remember breaking down to my dad one night, who at that time was a bank executive who managed multiple divisions, hundreds of people and a lot more responsibility than I could ever comprehend. I was beyond frustrated working 70+ hour work weeks yet I couldn’t manage to get everything done, and my to-do list kept growing!
That’s when Dad gave me some of the best advice that I have ever received. He said, “David, they don’t pay you to get it all done. They pay you to get the most important things done.” Wow! That simple phrase changed my life.
Let me clarify by saying that some jobs, entry level specifically, do warrant the employee to get everything done; all phones need to be answered, hamburgers cooked, etc. prior to leaving for the day.
But as we begin to move up the ranks of responsibility we don’t want to take this mentality with us. When we are managing people, places or things, the options of what we spend our time on grows exponentially. We can conduct training, print a new catalogue, go to a meeting ... the list goes on and on.
Learn to focus
So many options and requests on our time and soon, we find that we can never get it all done. This is why it is imperative that as we grow in our positions, we learn to focus on the right things.
The power of prioritization is undeniable in terms of your future success and in order to be exponentially successful, you must learn how to differentiate time management from prioritization.
Peter Drucker says it best: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Don’t waste your energy just crossing things off your “to do” list. Instead, spend some time prioritizing. Then pour your energy into the projects and tasks that you have deemed to be the most important things to complete today.
In the early days of Defender, I was a young entrepreneur obsessed with thoughts about how I could grow our business. As Defender grew, our team members were presented with new opportunities everywhere we turned.
While sometimes it was hard to turn away from an opportunity to sell what was presented as the “next big thing,” early on I took a step back to really evaluate our business. Every time we said yes to a new idea or product, it meant more training, more options, more complexity.
Stay in focus
Success does create more and new opportunities, but that means we must stay focused say no more often! Otherwise, our team and focus will fragment and slow us down.
I hear so many stressed out business leaders say, “But it’s all important!” However, by definition, if everything is important, then nothing is important.
If you want to be the leader of a high performance, fast-growth business, then your No. 1 job is to figure out what is most important and to "keep the main thing as the main thing."
Still, today I divide my to-do list into A,B,C and D priorities and every morning I write my top three A priorities on a Post-It note, which I carry with me throughout the day as a reminder to keep me focused.
If each day I can get my top three most important things done amongst the chaos of life, I figure I'll have a pretty successful life.
Remember, there will always be more things to do than there is time to do them. You’ll never get it all done and your “to do” list will never be empty. Let this philosophy release you from the stress of trying to get it all done and put that new energy into getting the right things done today.
Businesses don’t grow … people do!
If you are the founder of a very successful company, other business leaders probably often ask you for the secrets of your success. As founder of Defender Direct, I get approached all the time — they all want to know about our “secret sauce.” How did we grow a small company operating out of a spare bedroom into a nearly $500 million business that has experienced annual average growth rates of 50 percent or more, with more than 2,000 employees and a nationwide footprint of 120 offices?
The answer can be found in five simple words: “Businesses don’t grow; people do!”
I believe our company has grown faster than its peers not because we are better at selling and installing home systems but because our people have grown faster than the competition’s people. The key is to stop trying to double your business and realize the way to grow is to double your team members’ enthusiasm, optimism and skills.
Send people to seminars, leadership conferences and self-improvement programs. Build your culture on purpose, not by accident. It’s that simple.
Groom your employees.
This concept has been a humbling learning experience for me as a business owner. I’ve learned that success isn’t about having a better plan or a widget. It’s about helping your employees, because every time they grow, you and your business will grow. That’s what keeps us going, that’s our true purpose — to build and develop leaders. Everything else just falls into place.
You don’t want to be in the business of buying and selling businesses. You want to be in the business of growing and developing leaders.
How do you best invest in your people? At Defender, every new hire attends what we call “Defender Corporate Culture Day” their first day on the job. This is an opportunity to share the company’s unique culture and get each employee engaged and focused on how he or she can be successful both personally and professionally.
On this first day, the focus is completely on personal written goals and a personal growth plan. We don’t talk at all about job-specific skills.
We insist that our employees “work harder on themselves than they do on their job.” Yes, I just said that and I mean it. Every new employee receives a tool called the Defender Leadership Advantage Board. This tool provides a four-year road map that guides employees on a path of self-improvement focusing on three categories: reading for self-improvement, volunteering to serve others and involvement in company culture-building events.
The DLA Board contains items such as reading “Now Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham, attending an Ed Foreman Successful Life Course and even building a home for the poor in Mexico, just to name a few. Participation is always optional but is encouraged for growth. Defender’s investment in the DLA Board is about $16,000 per employee, as all expenses are paid for all employees and, in many cases, all expenses for a family member to attend events are covered, as well.
Don’t stress profit; stress growth.
I realized early on that, as a leader, I can only grow as fast as my employees grow, so I have devoted a lot of time and resources into developing leaders because it’s the only way our company can realize exponential, organic growth.
When you start sacrificing employee growth for profit, everyone suffers. Once Defender started focusing on people versus profit growth, the results were incredible.
Remember, the best thing you can do for your business is grow your people. In doing so, you and your business will realize exponential success because businesses don’t grow … people do!
Dave Lindsey is the founder, board member and chief missions officer of Defender Direct, a leading dealer for a portfolio of home security and digital communication brands including ADT and DISH Network. The company Direct employs more than 2,000 individuals in 50 states with more than 100 branch offices nationwide. Visit www.defenderdirect.com for more information.