The energy you bring to each moment is your most valuable asset, because it empowers you to make the most out of your time. Knowing that your time on earth is limited, but being unaware of how much time you have, places much more value on being able to discern the difference between behaviors that add value and the actions that aren't worth the effort. And while all people struggle with time management, leaders, in particular, need to be efficient so they can continue inspiring others.
As a life coach and licensed therapist, I've had the privilege of working with many leaders who are passionate about changing themselves and the world. Part of our work together is deciding which actions are aligned with their master plan and which behaviors are not aligned with their values. Through our work, I've identified several things that are not worth the time, energy, and effort that all successful leaders avoid.
Below are 10 actions that all of the best leaders avoid to maximize their efficiency.
1. Always being the first person to speak and share their opinion.
It's easy to get locked into social patterns, and when people value your thoughts, it's quickly established that your opinion matters more than others. However, collaborative teams are more efficient when you listen more than you speak. Allow the group to run itself and it'll save you time and energy.
2. Telling other people what to do rather than embodying the characteristics you value.
In the long run, being the change that you want to see in the world is more efficient than pretending to be someone or something you're not. It wastes energy constantly telling everyone to do something that you are unwilling to do yourself, because as the leader, you don't set the example--you are the example--and people follow actions, not words.
3. Buying expensive material items to impress people you don't like.
When you start buying things with the intention of showing others instead of enjoying yourself, you need to check in with yourself. Often, trying to impress others is rooted in feelings of inferiority, and unfortunately, buying things to impress others is an expensive, never-ending habit. A much more efficient strategy is to address the root cause with a therapist or coach.
4. Pretending to like things--like alcohol or sports--to fit in (rather than standing out).
Some of my young, entrepreneurial clients once pretended to enjoy alcohol despite having celiac disease, because they were afraid of being the only one not drinking. Later in life, these clients realized that they wasted years of their lives being miserable, when they could've embraced their individuality. Don't be afraid to stand out.
5. Trying to please other people at the expense of your own wellbeing.
Set appropriate boundaries with yourself and others. Stop sacrificing your mental, physical, and emotional health to appease other people--it's not worth it. The most effective leaders are the ones that know how to say no.
6. Focusing too much on the past or worrying about the future (rather than being present).
The fastest way to waste energy is to live in the past or dream about the future. The more present you are, the more effective you become, because you can only take action in the here-and-now. Practice being present by re-establishing a meditation practice (even if it's short).
7. Agreeing with other people's opinions instead of critically thinking for yourself.
It wastes time to blindly follow others, because you end up doing things that aren't aligned with the things you value most. Think critically about yourself and the world around you so that you can make appropriate decisions and be responsible for your actions.
8. Sacrificing quality for speed.
Whether we're discussing the quality of a product or the quality of employees, when you start focusing too much on output, you end up wasting energy. At one time or another, you'll have to go back and correct the numerous shortcomings of a hyper-focus on speed rather than careful consideration of quality.
9. Comparing yourself to others instead of maximizing your talents.
No matter what you do, someone in this world--probably a 10 year old genius--is better than you. There's plenty of opportunity to go around, so stop wasting time and energy feeling sorry for yourself and start taking action. You are your most valuable asset, so invest in your own personal and professional growth.
10. Avoiding issues--emotional and business--rather than confronting them immediately.
Putting difficult conversations on hold seems efficient at first, but can be extremely problematic over time. The less you deal with them up front, the greater their impact later. Instead of avoiding uncomfortable dialogues, confront them head-on. If you value your time and want to maximize your energy, then as a leader, you need to stand out--you need to be the person you've always wanted to become.