I want to urge on you a very simple practice that will make a huge difference in your leadership life. It is this: Punctuate Your Priorities. Allow me to use a couple of personal examples to explain.
During most of this summer, I’ve had reason to make a fifteen minute drive every weekday morning to a regular meeting. To use the time well, I listen to my Bible reading. A good idea but here’s the problem. I discovered that between my mental preparation for my meeting, the congestion on the road, and whatever Bev and I had just discussed before I left home, on some days I hardly heard a word of the Bible. It was just crowded out by my other thoughts.
Solution: Turn it up. Once I did, once I made it a punctuated priority, I paid attention.
A slightly different example. Some years ago, my doctor told me I needed to drink “dramatically” more water. In those days I was in an office nearly all day, every day. So, I told my assistant at the time that she had the authority to hand me water anytime she thought best, to privately ask me about my water consumption, and to prompt me with notes or any other tasteful way she chose. She got good at it. People walking in for appointments would often hand me bottles of water she had given them to give me.
The lesson: Punctuate Your Priorities.
We live in a noisy, chaotic, distracting world. Yet we also have amazing tools to punctuate what is truly important in our lives. We have alarms on cell phones and auto-texts and timed flashing lights and every other kind of alert. Then we have people, whom we can give permission to poke us about important things.
I’ll stick with more illustrations from my own life. I have prompts for everything from prayer to touching base with my children. I’m wild about my children, but I can let two or three days go by without even a text. So, I use alerts. They know it. They take it as love and a decision to prioritize them in my busy life.
I also have good people around me. They poke me—at my urging—about my weight, about my getting away with Bev, about bitterness over a wrong done to me, about my research on that new venture, and, mercilessly, about working out—along with a dozen other priorities, including drinking enough water!
Now, think over your life and remind yourself of your priorities. What prompts, what punctuation processes do you have in place for these priorities in your personal life? In your leadership role? In your health?
Please remember these next words. You know that I do a lot of work with leaders who have crashed. I’ve written a book on the subject, as you know. Time and again, I’m looking into the face of a crashed leader who says tearfully, “I let the important things get crowded out.” Often, such leaders are not talking about God or their spouses. They are talking about the kind of thing an alert on your cell phone would fix. In their case, an avalanche of neglect destroyed their lives. You don’t have to make the same mistake. Punctuate your priorities.