How much time do you usually spend planning and preparing before getting into the action?
Today, we’ll continue our special “How To” mini-series where we’ll deal with a single topic and go as deep as we can in just a few minutes. This time around, examining that rough tension that exists between doing and preparing for the execution of our tasks and duties.
You probably remember that old adage about how sharpening the ax helps to chop down trees. Well, there’s really no mystery there! But, how often do we actually put that concept into practice? I mean, the part about sharpening before chopping. Not often enough, right?
We lead lots of businesses through strategic planning processes every year, and I can tell you that whether business or personal, planning is essential to your success!
But, how do you carve out the right amount of time for planning and preparing vs. doing and executing? That’s what we dig into today!
Enjoy this episode,
472 | How To Spend More Time Preparing Than Executing
Chris LoCurto 0:00
Doing the hard work of thinking before doing that is coming up next.
Chris LoCurto 0:16
Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discussed leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.
Chris LoCurto 0:27
Welcome to the show, folks. Hope you're having a fabulous day wherever you are. On today's show, we're taking a departure from our normal format to tackle a few practical topics in a mini series of How To episodes. So joining me again on the show is Brian Alex. Brian, welcome to the show.
Brian A 0:48
Raise your hand if you're sick of hearing
Unknown Speaker 0:54
everybody's hand goes on out this Brian guy again. Come on here, Chris.
Chris LoCurto 0:59
Isn't he that foreigner? Isn't he? Where's he, Sicily? What is he? Who can people? People love it? What are you doing on the show again?
Brian A 1:08
I don't know. No, we're having fun. We're having so much fun. And I don't know, I hope you know all of the fan mail that comes in as positive. I hope everybody's enjoying listening to these how to episodes. But these are these are compact, fun little takes on a single topic. And I'm excited about today's it's kind of fun. I think. So yeah, that's what I'm doing here. What are you doing on your show?
Chris LoCurto 1:36
Man, I don't know. I just miss out. I just get these calendar appointments. Anybody and everybody? Jump on? Oh, no. All right. Um, well, I'm loving being able to walk through these How Tos. Because I do love that it's a compact it. You know, when you brought this up? Geez, months ago, it was in reflection of the coffee with Chris, that we did way back in the day. Hopefully people have gone through and listen to all that stuff. And I just love that we're doing it again. I'm not making it as compact as I think you want it to be. I think I've stretched out a couple of these. So today, I'm going to try and make a comeback to work on it.
Brian A 2:22
All right, well, talking about working, Albert Einstein famously said "Thinking is hard work. That's why so few people do it". And that's really what we want to talk about today doing the hard work of thinking, planning, preparing before engaging in the doing delegating and creating that we talked so much about on this podcast, and I imagine that this is probably harder for some personality styles than others. And this, you know, this comes up as we prepare for events that comes up in our staff meetings. I know it comes up in StratPlan meetings and all of this. But depending on your personality type, you may be more prone towards thinking and calculating and researching, maybe perhaps doing too little, actually engaging and executing. Because it's fun to do. Everything's perfect. In theory, everything's perfect in strategy. And I love personally, I'd love to just keep everything there. Because it's in the execution that we tend to mess things up. Or you might be on the other side of the equation. When I get into my D space. I just want to execute I want to do and there's no planning and there's no execution. And so we want to get into that. But there is a little bit of a battle probably between the personality styles here what you say,
Chris LoCurto 3:42
Man, yes. Personality styles is one aspect of it. Yes, absolutely. Also, you know, very massively is worth root system as well. Values, you know, what motivates you? So there's actually a lot to it. So yeah, but definitely personality styles. You can see like you just explained the difference between the high C and the high D, right. The high C might get, you know, paralysis of analysis, the high D might get zero analysis. Right it so personality style definitely plays a part in it. But yeah. Also, if your worth is coming out of productivity, then you're probably 10 times more of a doer than a thinker in the process, because doing is what gets you worth. So there's there's actually a lot of things that encompass that.
Brian A 4:34
Yeah, a lot of things going on there. And so what I'd love, you know, help in today is getting unstuck from that, that paralysis, whether it's on one side or the other, and how you know how this came up. There's, there's an old adage that's commonly attributed to Abraham Lincoln. I think modern historians think it's much more recent, but you'll likely remember a quote something along this line there's there's several various machines. But if I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening the axe. Another version says six hours and I do the first four sharpening, there's a couple others. Probably it happened in the in the 1950s that this saying came to be. But the idea was that there was a woodsman who was asked, "What would you do if you just had Five minutes to chop down a tree?" and he said, "I'd spend the first two and a half sharpening my axe" and so the idea here is that we somehow get into an engaged mode of execution, especially in our fast paced modern society, blah, blah, blah, we get into the office, we just want to, you know, shoot from the hip, make decisions, get things done, is where our mindset usually goes, because productivity and activity seem to be equated. But a lot of the time, they're not right. I mean, we have a lot of action, sometimes that doesn't produce fruit, because it was, well, it wasn't well planned. And there wasn't a lot of strategy. And I mean, we we spend weeks with people and their teams who come into our office throughout the year, doing the strategic planning for what will come before engaging, and we announce that we go through an analysis process and a planning process. And so really, that's what we want to get to today. But any final thoughts before we jump to the practical stuff about where people get stuck? Before we offer the remedy here?
Chris LoCurto 6:41
Yeah, I think so much of what is being taught to people like you know, you, you've heard me say, many times, I hate this hustle culture, this concept that your whole life must now become a hustle, right. And this has been something that's been preached for, probably, I don't know, if it's been 10 years, but it's been, it's been quite a few years, where this preaching of you gotta go, you gotta go, you gotta go, you gotta get things done, you got to, if you're gonna make anything happen, you got to make something happen. And the crazy thing behind that is, that's okay, for a short period of time. But what we find is, and having done this for decades, what we find is people who take on that hustle mentality end up ruining relationships, they end up ruining marriages, they end up having kids that don't remember what their name is, right? You know, I mean, it's it, it can have a really negative effect, if done incorrectly. And believe it or not, most of the time that I see it, it's done incorrectly. So I think we have to get past this concept of this, you got to go, go, go, go, go to get something done and start recognizing that the the whole reason why that quote, and you know, I, I've taught that as Lincoln, as well as eight hours, and I'd spent six hours sharpening my axe, the whole concept behind that is, is that if you go at that tree for eight hours with a dull axe, you're not going to get the tree down in eight hours, you're going to spend a whole lot of time or you're going to give yourself a heart attack in two hours, right. So with that, that understanding of if I just run without clear direction, without a clear path, without decent ideas of what I'm trying to accomplish, and definitely a destination in mind, then I end up doing a whole lot of stuff that may amount to nothing. We see this a we call this the shotgun approach. And so I think when we come back from the break, I'd love to actually hit this from a personal standpoint of something I've noticed about myself in the last year so yeah, it's it's crazy powerful.
Brian A 9:01
I can't wait to hear it. I love it when you're vulnerable. And I don't have to be that's my favorite part of the show. It's not Chris going "Brian, why don't you open up and talk about that?" for this is Chris's turn. I'm so excited. I gotta find the popcorn here. Okay, up next. What does it look like to do the hard work of thinking before engaging that's after this.
Chris LoCurto 9:30
Folks, if you've been listening to me for any length of time, then you know the number one issue when it comes to business, when it comes to family, when it comes to friendships, is having a lack of high quality communication, to make sure that you are absolutely winning in every aspect of your life. It all starts with having great communication. The best way to get that communication is to understand your personality style and to understand the personality style of the Folks that you're spending the most time with, whether it be at work, whether it be at home, the best way to do that is to go to Chrislocurto.com/store. And get your personality profile and personality profiles for your team to day, get it for your family members. Today, as you go through that profile, you will begin to see the greatest ways to communicate, go to Chrislocurto.com/store today.
Brian A 10:28
And welcome back, folks. All right, we're ready to jump in. I've got my popcorn, got everything set.
Brian A 10:33
I'm just on pins and needles, I can't wait. Chris is going to be vulnerable. Okay, what can people do to really slow down and prepare? Well, for better execution?
Chris LoCurto 10:44
Yeah, so the first thing you have to recognize is if you're like I say, so speaking to businesses, many times a business that has multiple team members, they're not going in a unified direction. This is one of the big things that we pull out in strat plan of helping people to see you are using your resources, your people, your money, your time, your equipment, your software, your brick and mortar, building your whatever, for people not to go on to unify direction, which means you're spending way more money. This last Next-Level Leadership LIVE Event. So many people are like, we thought your team was much bigger than this, right? I think we've got 10 or so people on the team. Like we thought this was so much bigger than this, because of how much you guys get done. And it's like, no, we literally do the things we teach you guys to do. Right? If you're doing these things, then guess what, you don't have to pay two people to get one job done. It's the shotgun approach that causes you to spend so much of your resources because people aren't unified and moving in one direction.
Chris LoCurto 11:47
So that's the first thing you have to recognize is is how much of your resource time money energy is going out to try and accomplish something.
Chris LoCurto 11:57
Second thing is is why are you doing it? Right. Now, if I'm somebody who is struggling with worth, then being productive is filling me with worth, it doesn't matter what I get done. If I get stuff done, if I am running 90 to nothing. If I feel like I'm banging things out and things are being accomplished, even though it may not be the most important thing to get accomplished. I feel really good about myself, at the end of the day, I can go to bed and you know, sleep because I have I've filled myself up with worth for the day. But after a period of time I look around and I'm like, Well, I got that thing done. And that wasn't really that important. And that is done. And I'm not even going to do anything with that for you know. So an example of that is, is that, you know, we've got, we've been working on the ridge. And I only get two days a week that I get to work on the reg one of those being a weekday and I want a weekend day that I get to do things and try and build this place up to move. You know, a lot of our business, a lot of things that we're doing events, all kinds of stuff out here. And it's funny and we have a full time team member here who is just killing it. We've also got a part time team member, we're looking for even more people who love the physical side of things and you know, the physical labor of stuff to come out here and do things. But when I started it was like, Man, I would go after something. And I just love being out here doing things. I love being out here dropping trees, I love being at it, well, I would go knock a tree down and find out. Oh, crud, that was a sugar maple I should have kept that because I could actually get maple syrup out of that. I would go drop a tree that I couldn't cut up, Oh, crud actually need to mill that tree. And now that's going to sit on the ground for too long. And I would go work on a piece of the land and I'm like, Oh, crud, I'm not gonna be able to do anything with this. And I just cleared this. And now it's going to be overgrown in a couple of months, because I'm not ready to take you know, I have had these situations where I've enjoyed the process so much. But every bit of the business man inside of me had me stop and go, Dude, what are you doing? Priorities, priorities, priorities, backup resets, you're you're going out to things and you're having fun with it. But that's great, but have fun. Going in a specific direction, get to the right destination, take a piece here a piece here a piece here. Don't go drop a bunch of trees that you plan on milling, if you can't actually get them milled, don't go moving things around, if it's going to cause things to just grow back up. And now you have to go back and do that section for a second time. So I've had to actually recognize how getting out of the business. And while this is still very much a part of the business or the future of the business. There's a physical fun aspect to it that I didn't immediately link and I had to you know within a very short period of time go, stop. You got to get the priority because otherwise, all you're gonna do is be spinning your wheels around this whole place. And nothing's ever really going to get done done. Because there was no direction.
Chris LoCurto 15:09
So a big piece that you have to do is recognize that just because you're accomplishing things, doesn't mean that you're being the most productive and most effective as you possibly can. When you recognize that if you just sit down, and for us, what we do is we tell people to try and close out your day for the next day. If you sit down at the end of the day, and plan and prepare the next day and say, you know, while everything is still fresh on your mind, what are my top priorities? For the eight hours, I have 10 hours, 12 hours, whatever it is that I'm going to do for hours that I'm going to do tomorrow? What are the most important things I get done? And are they pointing towards a destination? are they leading toward a destination? If so, write those things down and prioritize them. This is the number one thing I go after first thing I do is go hit this thing right here. Second thing is this third thing is this, even if you put time slots, another, you know, a great thing to do is to put like, Hey, I only give myself 45 minutes to do that one piece. Because if I get my if I don't put a time slot on it, then it might take me two hours to do something I could have gotten done in 45 minutes, right. So by doing that, all of a sudden, what happens is, is I'm getting the most important things knocked out. And now I'm being incredibly productive. Now, there's stats that are still very, very true to this day, that the person who doesn't plan out their day can lose up to two hours of productivity. That's true, we see it all the time, I saw myself in not only losing two hours of productivity by, you know, running back and forth and doing things that I was loving doing. But I was also missing out on getting to a destination faster. So not only was I losing the productivity in the day, but I wasn't putting myself in the most high priority destination.
Chris LoCurto 17:15
So recognizing what's going on recognizing the power of scheduling, if you stop and think now, let me speak to the high see out there, the high theoretical out there, do not spend eight hours a day you know, don't spend six hours planning on chopping down a tree and planning on sharpening your AX and then try and do two hours of sharpening and chopping. Get this information down, take a look at what needs to be done. Prioritize it go after it. When you have enough. Do not try and make this a perfection process. It never will be if you're feeling that it has to be perfect. You're struggling with worth. Because now we've slipped into the I'm going to gain worth if I have this perfect or I'm going to try to avoid losing worth. If it's not perfect. Perfection is an illusion. We're never going to see it this side of heaven, right? So instead, get it as far as you can as fast as you can make sure you have plenty of details, then go knock it out. Get into it. Yeah, but what if something happens? What if something happens? What if it does, fix it? Go back to the drawing board, change it, do something about it, right? If you don't do something about it, and by the way, something is going to torpedo your day, something's going to affect what you're trying to accomplish. So when it does solve it, then go back and go, Okay, let me reset my day, or let me fix I was doing this thing. And it wasn't probably the best way. Let me spend 15 minutes on it adjust and go again. If we spend too much time planning, we never get anything done. If we spend too much time doing, we don't get the right things done.
Brian A 18:58
Yep, no, that's crazy powerful. And, you know, so much of what we talk about around here in we don't use a lot of the psychological language, but we could call it self awareness, mindfulness, all these kinds of terms. We have our own language for that here. But really what we're saying and maybe maybe this is you today, you know, your takeaway is, pause for a second before you do that next thing, take a breath, ask yourself, Is this the right thing? And is this the right way to do it? I remember my dad growing up and he lives in South America now and he doesn't have access to technology. So he won't hear this. But he used to tell me growing up. He used to say just do something even if it's wrong. You can see he's probably that high D as where I get it from and and I probably was thinking too much in my scenesse around him because, you know, that's how that dynamic worked and I I remember being provoked into that go go go without thinking anymore. And I can still be guilty of that today. And so I think, you know, for me, I'll just say like this, the takeaway is pause. Take a pause before you do that next item. You take that next action, you execute that next task. Take a deep breath. Just think through it. Is this the right thing? Is this the right time? Is this the right way? Is there anything else I needed? Am I chopping down the maple tree because I need to chop down this particular tree? All of that so helpful, Chris, thank you for sharing all of that. Absolutely.
Chris LoCurto 20:37
Absolutely. Well, folks, hopefully this has helped you today. Hopefully, you are enjoying these compact ish versions of these how tos? Let us know we'd love to hear from you. As always, we hope this has helped you. Take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life. Go sharpen an axe, and join us on the next episode.