Today, I bring you to an environment many of us struggle with it. Some ran away from it while other people are left completely paralyzed. It is clutter! I don’t know about you, but I love order. My soul does a happy dance when everything is in its right cabby-hole.
However, I had this pile of papers on my desk that was bothering me. A pile that held some of my treasured research on personal and business development. But the trigger was what bothered me. For two days, I had a dull but consistent headache. And I knew of it too well. I have been working full-out to develop new content for my new leadership coaching program.
I realized that the clutter and headache were just symptoms. Without any further thought, I picked up the pile and spread it out on the dining table. Methodically, I separated the wheat from the chaff. Out came two files, a paper punch and a pair of scissors. I went through each document and ruthlessly discarded what I did not need. The remaining documents neatly filed away as reference material.
As I went through the pile, I used one selection system. It was OHIO: Only Handle It Once. It wasn’t easy to let go of some ‘important’ material. But I hadn’t seen or read it in a year!
What I realized was that the physical clutter had extended into my mind. I was feeling overwhelmed but couldn’t understand why. Just like the pile of documents, I had cluttered my mind with negative thoughts. These thoughts impeded my ability to get meaningful work done. Weekly goals, which I review every Tuesday with my accountability partner, were progressively getting harder to accomplish. And I could feel frustration kicking in!
Mind chatter: a clutter of left-brain rains of doubt, worry, guilt, shame in a thunderstorm of fear. Forgive the chatter, clear your mind.” ~Soul Dancer
The most amazing transformation happened as I cleared my physical clutter. My mind started to calm down. The headache progressively diminished. At the end of the exercise, my focus began to improve!
This experience has close parallels to leadership. Our leadership can progressively get lost in clutter that accumulates in small progressions. It could be allowing seemingly benign events remain unresolved. It could be seeing staff coming in a few minutes late for work and letting it slide. Or a printer set to one-sided printing instead of taking a few minutes to adjust it to a double-sided printing default.
I have discovered three types of clutter that adversely affect my leadership:
- Procrastinating something that requires a resolution.
- Fear of failure, especially in the midst of conflicting agenda.
- Feeling unprepared for change because the heavy lifting involved overwhelms me.
Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein.
Later, I sat back and looked at two neat files. I now knew exactly where everything was. By taking a small step to de-clutter my small pile, I had recovered my peace. I realized how deliberate and practical it is to take leadership of myself. It is not always easy, but it is possible. It is just a matter of choice.
What type of clutter are you struggling with? Click here and share your thoughts and what action you plan to take in the comments below.
photo credit: FreddieBrown via photopin cc