It’s well known that the team that wins an Olympic relay isn’t the fastest at running or swimming—it’s the team that handles the handoffs the best.
The same thing is true of your job. The tasks could be done by many people, but someone who is great at your job embraces the mental effort necessary to do task switching, to read between the lines, to keep many balls going at the same time. Strategy and tactics both.
Sometimes, we think that these are the things that get in the way of our work. In fact, they are the work.
Writing a sentence is easy. Deciding what to write in the next sentence is hard.
Making decisions is exhausting. It involves perception and analysis and most of all, taking responsibility. Pretending to lead and manage is a trivial task, because there’s no, “what if?”
It turns out that the mental load of management is primarily around experiencing failure.
Actual failure, sure, but mostly potential failure. Imagining failure in advance. All the current things that could go wrong. And more important, the things you’re not doing that will be obvious oversights later. Our brains work overtime to cycle through these, to learn to see around corners, to have the guts to delegate without doing the work ourselves (even though that creates more imagined points of failure). Scan, touch, consider, analyze, repeat.
The other thing that’s a huge load: Worry. Unlike all the things I’ve already mentioned, worry isn’t actually part of your job. Worry (expressed through non-productive pessimistic cycles over things out of your control) is antithetical to the work you’ve agreed to do.
Clear your cache of worry.
It’ll free up your processor to focus on the useful stuff.
*Originally published on sethgodin.typepad.com.
Seth Godin has written eighteen books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and, most of all, changing everything.
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