I will tell you one thing –give me 75 tasks to complete in 60 minutes –and I will give you 75 tasks completed and bake you a cake. Give me 1 task to complete in 60 minutes…and I will ask you for an extension of the deadline…
I will speak from my own experience and the conversations I’ve had with other people experiencing each “side” of this mechanism. The ones living it –and the ones observing it with a dash of disbelief.
For the ones who live it, I’ve noticed we thrive when we have more things to do than we could possibly ever handle. Everything has the same priority, private or work related.No sequence, just get it done! When I think of myself in that mode, I’m sorry to say I visualise myself as a steam train that just pushes through everything on its way. Watch out for the warning signal, folks! Here I come!
What I’ve observed is that people who approach tasks and life this way are often perceived, both professionally and privately, as the ones who get things done. And the truth is, when I approach people with similar …inclinations and ask them about it, I hear “Yes, but I should still be doing….”and here comes a whole list of things the person feels he or she should be doing. And so the stream train keeps on going…but somehow never seems to reach its final station.
I had my personal “Aha moment” when a good friend of mine sat me down and said “You do realize you do way more things than I do, and I’m a working mom! You have no time for yourself!”.
And to hear a working mom tell you that you are the one that has no time for yourself… believe me, that’s something! But one thing I’ve observed and what I’ve heard from many people who work the “steam train mode” is -once there is only one task left on the plate…I’m sorry, but suddenly our brain turns into mush. The truth is, we get exhausted when we do everything at the same time, but we love the adrenaline and sense of accomplishment it brings.
And that’s what I’ve noticed is extremely frustrating for people who don’t work this mechanism. The people who have a more paced approach to work and life. “Why can’t the person who is such an over performer do what I’m asking them for? They agreed to it months ago!“, ”Is it because they can’t manage their priorities? Is it because what I’m asking for is not a priority? Is it…” suddenly, it all becomes personal. And it’s not! The steam train just…ran out of steam!
Another friend of mine, told me the other day she found herself at the end of a very intense two –year period of tasks upon tasks, both professionally as well as privately, and she feels now she lost her sense of a goal. And I felt –she nailed it! Because when it quiets down…you start analysing. “Hold on” you ask yourself “What was my original goal again?”.
That’s how we get to a stopping point – how do I know what my goals are? Are they still the same as ten, five or two years ago? How do I find them? Well…One tool that I found extremely helpful was…guess what! Making a list! I went back to a book by Keith Ferrazzi, “Never eat alone”. He speaks about setting your goals and one thing he recommends is to sit down and “conduct and internal review” –create two list. One, of your dreams and goals. The second, just next to the first, a list of the things that bring you happiness. And then start connecting the dots… When creating both list, we read: “The important thing when conducting an internal review is to do it without the constraints, without the doubts, fears, and expectations of what you “should” be doing.You have to be able to set aside the obstacles of time, money, and obligation”.
I loved that! Of course, I’m probably not sharing the concept as well as Keith did (It is…after all his concept). I have some good news though -Keith Ferrazzi is going to be a speaker at the Toasmasters International Conference in Chicago! Let the author explain it on his own!
One more author I love turning to is Simon Sinek and his book “Start with why” and connecting it with Keith Ferrazzi’s words. In “Start with why”, we’re advised to start asking ourselves “why” are we doing something when we set the goal, and only then focus on how we’re going to get there.
Long story short, set a goal for the steam train –then start building tracks!
So how does this translate into Toastmasters, I hear you ask…well, that’s very easy. I believe, Toastmasters is all about us developing as leaders. And as leaders we need goals, we need purpose and we need to know how to achieve them AND help others achieve their dreams. We need to know and understand how we work –whether we’re more paced in our approach, or whether we’re more a steam train person. And if we ask somebody on our team to do something, because they always get things done…and they take forever to get that one thing completed…. Don’t get frustrated, it’s just a different working mode. And maybe they need your help in finding their goal? A moment for you –to step up as a leader?
I’m not saying one style is better than the other –I love my steam train approach and I love when I start prioritizing more. There’s nothing wrong in mixing it up. I guess it’s a questions of where you are in life. Or maybe it’s a question for a whole new article…
Author: Marta Maruszewska, Speakers of Łódź VPPR