How To Be More Strategic (and how to create the time for it)

Photographer: Christian Fiore Photography

“Fridays are my time to work ON the business, not IN the business.”

Pre pandemic, I heard the co-founder and CEO of Red Antler, JB Osbourne speak. For context, Red Antler is the  branding and design agency behind brands with runaway success such as Casper Mattress and Allbirds. In his live interview, he shared his weekly practice that has helped his agency grow: Fridays, religiously, he sequesters himself. 

  • Away from his team. 
  • Away from his clients. 
  • Away from his then new-born baby.  

I’ll never forget his ‘why.’  

 

“I’m the only one who can set the vision and the strategy for my company. Nobody else can do that.”

 

So then why is this most important piece of running a business THE most overlooked time block by women leaders?

Each week, women leaders in my different cohorts express: “I put aside time for strategic thinking, but then I never get to it”

Client work, meetings. Something else always trumps this block of time.

Three things to consider:

1. One.

I interviewed Sue Ashford, who heads up women’s leadership studies at University of Michigan in  “I’m Capable, but I Don’t Want to Lead.” Listen here

She said strategy is amorphous, nebulous. The time block doesn’t yield the immediate dopamine hit that “doing the proposal for your team” gives you. Sometimes that dopamine hit doesn’t come at all. It’s delayed. 

2. The second thing to consider

In her opinion, is that we, as women, are ‘do-ers.’ Rather than sit in the discomfort, we just get busy ‘doing.’ But that still doesn’t get the strategic thinking that only the business owner could do. That doesn’t create the vision that only the founder can do. Listen here.  Transcript. Buzzsprout link.

3. The third thing to consider

Comes from organizational psychologist and author of “10x versus 2x” Dr. Ben Hardy. He says, we often don’t get to our ‘bigger goal’ because there is a clearer path to 4 or 5 lesser goals

  • Do laundry
  • Pack kids’ bags for camp
  • Help struggling teammate write proposal for client pitch

Given that we are natural ‘do-ers,’ we are inclined to ‘do’ those 4 or 5  lesser things, take the dopamine hit, and never get around to the ‘bigger goal’ 

Client work, meetings. Something else always trumps this block of time.

So then the worthy inquiry is “Who do you have to BE” or “who do you have to become” in order to the person who books this block fo time and follows through with it.

There needs to be a motivating factor.

Here is what I do to think daily about The Who I Need to Become

Hardy publishes these 5 journal prompts 

  • Where are you right now?
  • What are your wins for the last 90 days
  • What are the wins you want for the next 90 days
  • What do you want in the next year?
  • What do you want in the next 3-5 years?
 
 

These are priming questions because the answers live in the front of my notebook and I review them before I start journaling. It helps to “prime” my brain. Then I start to journal from the perspective of this future self.

I also have a journal practice at night, because this is when I review my day. Sometimes I feel like I did nothing. I was unproductive. Its not until I sit down to write all the things I did, that I realize, “Wow I actually did a lot!” It also generates new ideas for the next day. It helps me plan and prioritize my next day.

I write more about this practice here.

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