Pursuing Unintended Strategies

In an attempt to gain balance in my life, I have engaged in Clay Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life. I have not met too many people that do not intend to have a fulfilling life. High-achievers, however, end up allocating their resources in a way that seriously undermines their intended strategy. And if the decisions you make about where to invest blood, sweat and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you will never become that person.

As in business, what causes disruption to occur is not incompetence. You can do everything right and because you do everything right, you get killed. And nobody intends to get killed, but because they did what they believed to be the right things, it kills them. I will be attending several Stanford alumni events this week. I look at those who have graduated and not a single one of them created a strategy to go out and get divorced. And yet a shocking number of them actually implement a strategy that they did not intend to pursue.

What causes people to do what they did not want to happen? It turns out it is the same causal mechanism of investing in things that will pay off fast. If you are the kind of person who has a high need for achievement, then when we have an extra 30 min of time or an ounce of energy, we subconsciously try to find what to do with these resources that will promote the most immediate and tangible evidence that we have achieved something. We close a deal, ship a product, we get promoted, we get paid…and our careers provide tangible and immediate evidence of achievement. On the other hand, when we go home it is quite difficult to see achievement. When we weigh in and assess how to spend this extra time and energy, we invest in areas where we feel an immediate return…and that is not at home. Below are some concepts I will tackle in order to create more balance. The trick will be to hold these practices, religiously. As Christensen stated, “It is easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.”

-Let go of perfectionism

-Unplug

-Exercise and meditate

-Limit time-wasting activities and people

-Change the structure of your life

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