I heard a story on the Accidental Creative Podcast once about pruning grapes in a vineyard. Todd said that many times healthy vines that are bearing good fruit need to be pruned off. The reason is that the vine cannot grow new, more productive branches until some of the other branches are pruned. So cutting out good and fruit-bearing branches may be necessary in order for the vine to increase in capacity overall. This holds with us at work and in life. Sometimes we have to shutdown old dreams or projects, or stop doing old tasks that no longer provide significant value in order to free up time for something greater.
Good is the enemy of Great. – Jim Collins
Saying “no” at work can be one of the most freeing words you can say. As leaders or individual contributors we must set boundaries with our employees and our bosses. Several years ago, while at a previous employer, I was struggling to get great work done due to having too many regularly scheduled meetings in my life. I heard a podcast about saying no to things that you don’t get much value from. Recurring meetings was it for me. In most of the recurring meetings I was in, (usually more than 12 per week) were boring and un-informative for me. I was occasionally asked to give a report or update in them, but for the most part, my contribution could have been made in an email. I decided to prune those meetings from my life. I sent a friendly email to all of those meeting organizers, stating the following:
“I currently have a lot of important things on my plate. I am unable to attend this _____ meeting for the foreseeable future. Instead, I can send an update to you if needed that you can share with the team in place for me. If that doesn’t work and you feel I am irreplaceable at this meeting please let me know and I will work to move things around so that I can continue to attend.”
This email removed 10 1-hour, weekly meetings from my schedule. And of those 10, only 2 requested that I send email updates. Two meeting organizers asked that I continue to attend (those were from VPs while I was only a manager, so I continued to attend those meetings). Pruning things from my scheduled freed up 10 hours per week that I could devote to more important projects at work and helped me rollout numerous mobile and web projects that led to significant impact to the companies bottom line. Sometimes really good things in our life and and work can steal time away from great things. What good things are you holding on to that you should let go? What great things are right around the corner that you don’t have time for now? I want to challenge you this week to find something good that you’re doing, that may have lost some of its value, and let it go to make room for something great to begin to grow.