Lead with Your Footprints


The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.
– Warren Buffett

Jim Collins has popularized the notion of the “stop-doing list.” Equally as important as your do-list, he argues we need to make room for innovation and growth by ceasing some of the repetitive, mindless, or ineffective activities that can become habitual, but might not be leading us in constructive directions. In a recent presentation, I suggested the “stop-doing” mantra. Afterward someone approached me and said, “OK, stop doing…like, what?”

Fair enough. Here are ten mindless-doing traps we can often engage in, that you might try stopping. For more great ideas to add to your stop-doing list, Joe Calloway has some good advice.

  1. Stop replying to all, and pick up the phone
  2. Stop waiting for someone else to decide, and gather those who are willing to help decide
  3. Stop trying to do everything yourself, others can and want to help
  4. Stop focusing on what you can’t control (see #2)
  5. Stop needing to be right
  6. Stop waiting to talk, and start listening
  7. Stop wishing someone else will change, and accept them
  8. Stop trying to make it perfect. The world needs to see it.
  9. Stop muting conference calls while you do other things (like throw emails around)
  10. Stop having the same conversations with the same people. Comfort conversations are good but try reaching out to a dormant contact and ping someone you haven’t interacted with in a while. When you do, start by giving without expectation.

You might read these and think, “Right! [insert name] constantly does these things.” But here is the killer application of these ideas. The only reliable way to ripple effect these behaviors is to model them. People around you are far more likely to follow your footprints than to follow your advice. I too, am trying to let go of what I can’t control. That, and stop drinking coffee after noon.