Let’s Take It Up 1000 Feet

When we texted my wife that my partner Amir and I were up 1,000 feet in a balloon overlooking the Colorado Rockies, she couldn’t understand why we weren’t hiking or biking along the Rockies with feet firmly planted on terra firma. Why go up 1000 feet if you don’t have to?

I really didn’t have a great answer except that it gave me a nice perch from which to view the world – as long as the propane cylinders lasted. I started daydreaming about ballooning across Africa and tracking game from up above and soon my mind drifted to a note my coach sent to me about how lions hunt.

She reminded me that the lion is the most powerful animal in the jungle, and the lion’s favorite food is: antelope, zebra, wildebeests and other large animals. There are lots of other animals a lion could eat: mice, snakes, and small birds, for example. But the lion knows that the ROI on these animals is small. Why bother?

As business owners we think of ourselves as lions, the kings of the jungle. We are the decision-makers; we’re talented and know our business inside and out. Yet most small business owners don’t make the money we are capable of making.

We spend our days doing things that keep us busy, instead of doing the things that make us productive and move us closer to our goals. We come in bright and early, reply to email, read the news, make some phone calls and write a couple of proposals. We get interrupted often by our colleagues to put out fires and by the end of the day we may not have accomplished very much and are tired and frustrated.

That’s because we have been hunting mice not antelopes. We didn’t have a plan or strategy for managing – and taking control – of our day, for setting our priorities and for staying focused. Yes, we are busy but not productive.

So if you are tired of hunting mice, here are 6 SIMPLE things you can do to help you capture antelope:

  1. Create a master list – in Outlook or in your notebook – of everything you have to do.
  2. Review your master list throughout the day. Ask yourself what is the most important thing I need to work on now? Then do it.
  3. Review the master list at the end of the day. This habit will enable you to figure out what you need to do tomorrow.
  4. Start early while you have plenty of lead time. It’s not enough that you prioritized the things that need to be done. You need to start – and then complete them. With enough lead time you can deliver your best work.
  5. Block out your calendar and make an appointment with yourself. Once you start, don’t let yourself be interrupted. No telephone calls and no emails. Get it done.
  6. Use your prime time. We all have time of the day that we work the best. When are you most productive. Schedule your appointment with yourself at the time you are at your best.

I have no idea why hot air ballooning over Colorado got me thinking about lions, hunting and making lists. But I often find that untethering myself from earthly comforts gets my creative juices flowing that are otherwise stifled by the everyday grind.

So maybe there should be a number (7) on the list: fire up your personal balloon and take it up 1000 feet and take a fresh look at why you do the things you do.

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