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Are You Micro Managing Your Mind?



One of the greatest traps in growing a business is also a pitfall for self management: if you donít trust your system, you canít let go of operational details and youíll limit your ability to create at a bigger level.

Many successful entrepreneurs I have worked with over the years could be characterized (and have been, by their employees and friends) as ďhighly creative control freaks.Ē Itís understandable because usually it takes that kind of strong, directed energy to create a business, to make something out of nothing. Much like a parent will go to superhuman lengths to protect its vulnerable offspring, someone who gives birth to an enterprise almost of necessity must have skin as thick as an elephantís and the aggressive/defensive capacity of a samurai warrior.

It takes tremendous focus, determination, and, yes, a certain lack of sensitivity, to create something new and get it to stick around in this world.

That protectionism can, of course, become their undoing. In order to continue in their visionary capacity to grow and expand, they must mature not only their team and their systems but themselves as well, to prevent the strangulation of micro-management. They have to trust. But trust is not something you can just do because you should. I suppose you can develop a greater sense of overall optimism about life, but you donít merely learn to trust - you learn to build trust. And you do that by creating a system and working it, so you can let go at that lower functional level, without letting go of the bigger picture of what youíre trying to accomplish.

A beginner at the wheel of a car will have jerky, small movements. They are maintaining control, just at small increments of focus. Only as they learn to trust the carís responsiveness can they let go on that level, extend their horizon, and cruise at higher speeds more easily.

Similarly, if you donít fully trust your personal systems, you are likely to be dedicating inappropriate and unnecessary mental attention to details and content, often with a resultant negative emotional component. Youíll feel pulled, overwhelmed, and often like youíre close to losing control.

But you canít trust your system until itís trust-worthy. When is that? When you know you have captured all your commitments, clarified what youíre intending to do about them, decided the actions you need to take about them, and have parked reminders of those actions in places that you know youíll look, where and when you need to.

Entrepreneurs have to break out of their comfort zone of operational control and let go, getting good people in the right places, accountable for the right things and monitored appropriately. Similarly to keep a clear head focused creatively at the right things you must have all the right things in your personal system and the behaviors to look at them at the right time. If you try to keep more than ten things in your mind at once, youíll lose objectivity about their relationships with each other. Less important things will bother you more than they should, and you wonít
give the tactical and strategic stuff the objective attention it deserves. And if some part of you knows that you donít have everything captured and organized in the right place, your brain simply wonít let go of some attention to unseen details. Youíll find yourself still to some degree at the mercy of the latest and loudest. Itís the price paid for staying in the comfort zone of keeping control of it all in your head.

When people begin to implement the Getting Things Done methods, they initially feel a rush of energy and creativity, while more relaxed at the same time. But those positive experiences can slip away quickly without the confidence that the content of their systems are complete and current (the inventory of which could have been changed and expanded hugely with the last phone call). People have often said, ďGee, I have everything captured in the system, but my mind is still worrying and reminding me about this and that.Ē My question is, ďHow long have you been working your system?Ē Usually they have only recently set it up. That wonít be sufficient to build trust yet, and your mind will still try to keep control. Thatís why the challenge is to keep going Ė to keep coming
back to everything downloaded, processed, and organized. And the trick is to come back often enough for the mind to be able to let go, trusting that remembering and reminding is really being handled by something better than it is. Then youíre truly free to be thinking about things, not of them.

ďBe steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.Ē - Gustave Flaubert


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