Your team invests oodles of time, energy, and resources into a project. At the moment, it’s 80% done and 0% usable. Sound familiar?
All of a sudden a new priority emerges. Resources are redirected and your initiative gets put on the back burner.
This might sound familiar because it happens in companies all the time. Yet some leaders still find a way to execute. Eventually, they get it done.
What’s their secret?
Their secret is they knew it was coming, even if they didn’t see it coming.
Enter the whirlwind
The whirlwind is the hustle and bustle of your everyday job. Stephen R. Covey coined the phrase in his book The 4 Disciplines of Execution. “The Whirlwind is the urgent activity needed to run everyday functions in your business.” The Whirlwind is the daily chaos associated with keeping the wheels on the bus.
What does this have to do with execution?
Leaders who find a way to execute plan for chaos. They know the whirlwind, while unpredictable, is constant. They allocate time and resources for the unknown to happen… because it will.
Think you’ll close that deal in September? Try November when your decision-maker comes back from an unexpected leave.
Think you’ll upgrade your software system in January? It’ll be April after the integration issues.
I’m not talking about sandbagging. Sandbaggers lower the bar so far someone might trip over it. I’ve known several impressive sandbaggers in my career. They always hit their goal or deadline…and never got promoted.
I’m talking about reality. Chaos and order are laws of nature. Best to not mess with the universe.
The whirlwind applies to our personal lives too
When setting ambitious goals to lose weight, run a half-marathon, or eat a Whitecastle crave case we incorrectly don’t plan for the whirlwind.
“When choosing a new habit many people seem to ask themselves, “What can I do on my best days?” The trick is to ask, “What can I stick to even on my worst days?”-James Clear
This happened to me recently. My blogging motivation waned. My tiny habit of one sentence per day turned into only – one – sentence – per -day. I was running out of gas.
Thankfully before I launched my very first post I got a head start and wrote a couple for a staging queue to give myself a buffer.
Usually, I can write a post in about 3 cocktails. This one took me over two weeks.
You know what?
I’ve shipped a post every Wednesday morning for the last 8 months. Thankfully I planned for the whirlwind.
Think about your key priorities over the past year. Any get sidetracked?
Next time plan for the unexpected because the whirlwind will find you.
That is the secret to good execution.