Kill and Beat Procrastination and Delay, Hit your Deadlines Consistently

Kill and Beat Procrastination and Delay, Hit your Deadlines Consistently

Bill Lewis 12/02/2018 16
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Frightened of missing deadlines? Your plan is in shreds. Your entrepreneur’s reputation is at risk?

Have you ever had one of those days when you want to do anything – I mean anything – but the task in hand? Motivation for the next important task on your critical path has gone out of the window. I have had those days. I have been there. And I am sure others reading this have as well.

You are an Entrepreneur, you are the CEO of your business – you have a schedule, and you have a long list of tasks that are demanding. People clamor for your time. Customers and suppliers require your attention. You need space to think, and you are not getting it. You have written down your 100-day plan, and you know it contains some clear imperatives.

But, there is just something else that you want to do! Stress and task conflict have come to reside on your desk. When the going gets tough, your staff, your co-workers, your managers have someone to turn to, but not you. You are alone? And it is not the fun you expected start up life to be! Do you recognize the situation? Fear not, the answer is here. 

Your Social Buddy is Going to be Remodeled!

We know that accountability partners, (a team mate(s), or coaches) have been around in sport for decades, but I do think there is a spin on this concept that may help many Entrepreneurial CEOs. In the general case, the “everyday buddying up” to help someone meet their social and day-to-day targets and challenges – like weight loss, diet adjustment, jogging, or work out targets – brings your accountability partner, or buddy to your side. He/ she is a commonplace friend and they don't need to be a technical and keyed up mentor to be your accountability partner. (I am leaving aside the very elite end of sport – that’s a different discussion). You just need a fellow cheerleader or maybe another one who struggles; together you make a team and there is strength and success in numbers. And you can make sure you keep your obligation to train together – you will feel guilty letting the other person down. You feel positive affirmation when your personal training buddy, your cheerleader urges you onwards to complete your required daily or weekly target. And the social dimension brings added enjoyment.

I have a Solution for You, Entrepreneurial CEO.

We can use the concept of Accountability Partners in an entrepreneurial environment. Recognizing that the challenges faced by Entrepreneurs and CEOs are different to those that Joe Public has when they are jogging in the park, the concept can be easily and effectively translated into a work environment – particular in a start up. When you get to the challenges experienced by an Entrepreneur, a CEO, a business leader, cheerleading is great but definitely not enough. You need to feel that your Accountability Partner has trodden the path before, understands what you are experiencing – because they have “been there and done it, got the t-shirt”. You might think that a solution is a Mentor but, as you will see below, I argue that a mentor – mentee relationship is more about imparting advice and sagely wisdom rather than holding you to account. Step on stage the Accountability Partner. We know that self-motivation is one of the most difficult attributes to maintain consistently. When you are alone and you have a need to consistently perform at your peak, and maybe build new habits you are challenged every minute. You are rising at dawn for a morning work out before charging forward on your business, delivering project after project, maintaining the momentum on a critical path, maintaining focus, and progressing towards your next business goal. But your goals, however worthy, become your nightmare and the faces of procrastination, distraction, not feeling good enough, inconsistency, and impatience haunt your existence. You and your business are in (mortal) danger. There is a problem with maintaining focus? It's not so much what we do when we are with somebody or being observed, it is what we do when there is no one around. And sometimes we fall victim to the need for immediate or early gratification and reward. We go off track; we wander in search of a (temporary) alternative to the long hard lonely road. We find something, some activity, which – because we have subdued the pressure to perform by following a distraction – acts like an injection of a happy drug and an anesthetic. This distraction is powerful enough to temporarily subdue the feeling of remorse and guilt, caused by the knowledge that we should be working. But if we knew we had someone to answer to, a conscience on our shoulder, maybe we would not be so eager to take a break from the grind.

The Lonely Runner

Entrepreneurial CEOs operate at the pinnacle of their chosen field and, when pursuing their goals, like athletes who are elite performers, they live in a program of induced solitude. The singular reliance on self-motivation is the burden of the lonely runner. It takes a special kind of person to consistently maintain focus, energy, attention, effort and a laser like direction towards a goal, while maintaining a tight adherence to a timescale and plan. Not many people can – using their own personal will power and commitment - complete a task. The lesser willed find many creative reasons to be distracted. They must do something different, easier, or more fun - despite knowing, internally, that they are cheating themselves and the diminishing the value the outcome or goal they are originally set out for. Depending on the nature of goal, failure to achieve the task, timescale, and the endgame, can range between catastrophic at one extreme, to mildly irritating at the other. Although, in reality, it never will be mildly irritating because deep down in the subconscious we are aware that we have failed yet again and we have stoked the fire that is extinguishing our self-esteem.

What if?

What if that lonely runner, in whatever form he or she manifests (entrepreneur, business leader, CEO) could have someone to whom they could hold themselves accountable – voluntarily - and with whom they would share, privately, the goals and timescales they are pursuing. They would share their actions, and challenges in complete confidence. What if I had a person to whom I choose to be accountable, who I acclaim for their knowledge, impartiality, objectivity, and integrity? And whose capability and experience I respect and applaud. What if you had someone to whom you would privately and confidentially report against your list of top tasks? Where you hold friendly, constructive reviews, where you am challenged and held a task in a mature and respectful manner. When you have completed your program for the week, or the month on time and to budget, you can celebrate some minor achievements. This person is your conscience and your cheerleader; they help you celebrate success, applaud your milestones, and energize you for the next lap. Such a person is YOUR