By Susan Dunn
Sometimes I long for The Equalizer, or those "dirty deeds done dirt quick" guys. What am I talking about? Keeping lists, keeping records - two things I really hate to do . I'm a conceptual person, and little "detail" things drive me nuts.
Of course I can DO them. I was an event planner - it's nothing BUT details - but, I prefer to be creative and find other ways.
How about you?
I'm sure you have things on your "to-do" list you don't like to do. If they're big, we need to look at a different career or job, but if they're small, here are some ways to manage around a weakness.
1. Get a little better at it. Some things you've just got to be able to do-simple math to balance your checkbook. Just gotta hunker down and do it. Read, watch others, get a coach/tutor and don't agonize over your performance in these areas you know will never be that great. Get them up enough to allow you to play the game, and then don't worry about it - like Tiger Woods and his bunker shot.
2. Find the support system you need. When I was a fund-raiser, which didn't pull on my greatest strengths to begin with, I found it hard to start working donors (cold calls) first thing in the morning, so I used my secretary to "warm up" with--warm up my voice and ramp up my personality.
3. Make yourself promises. Make yourself report cards, or use your coach for accountability. If your filing is really out of control and causing you problems set aside one day a month to do the filing and stick to it. Choose an accountability system that works for you, The Gooding Accountability System - is a good one, or schedule a "Clean Sweep Day" with your coach. I did this four Mondays in a row with a client who was closing out his 25-year business and needed to go through files.
4. Memorize self-talk. Mary's job description is so vast and vague, she could get lost in it, and also hide away in the parts she likes best. Every hour or so at work when she feels overwhelmed by the choice of things she could be doing, she self-talks: "Q: What was I hired to do? A: I was hired to raise $1,000,000 this year. Q: What will best further that goal? A: This task." This helps her set her priorities, and keeps her focused.
5. Find a crutch that works. Free up worrying time and start applying it to honing your strengths. Buy a palm pilot; hire a temp one day a week; barter with your suite-mate; return phone calls with your cell phone while standing in line in the grocery - just do it. Got a home office with no extra room or computer? No excuses - there are virtual assistants now.
6. Use one of your strengths to overwhelm a weakness. Sam isn't naturally good with people; he's too introverted. His top theme is Intellection, so he studied how others do it, and makes a very good approximation for someone who'd rather be dealing with ideas than people.
7. Find a partner. Oliver was the rainmaker in the law firm. Holding the tax collection contracts for various cities, his day was filled with schmoozing. He partnered with a brilliant intellectual who was detail-oriented, had no need to be in the spotlight, was 100% reliable, and who churned out the paperwork and ran the calendar, presenting a perfect trial notebook to Oliver when it was time to go to court.
8. Delegate your weakness. A property management owner didn't like to deal with employees and their "problems." She hired a vice-president to do the training, HR and employee relations which freed her to go out and get new clients which was what she was good at.
9. Work with a complementary colleague. If you give ad presentations in pairs, make sure you're buddy is strong in numbers and facts if that's your weak suit.
10. Just stop doing it. The first thing I ask a client who's agonizing over being "organized," is "Who cares?" I mean that literally. Often when they start to answer this question, they discover they're the only one who cares. This comes up often with "filing" and "messy desks." When you're self-confident and UNAPOLOGETIC, you'll find most people will adopt your response. Which brings up the next topic --
11. Stop comparing yourself. If you're doing your job well, the means to the end don't matter that much. I paid a call once on a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski-no place for "disorganized" amateurs. His office looked like a bomb had gone off in it. There were piles of paper 5' high all around his office. He got a phone call, got up, walked over to the 3rd pile on the left, reached into the middle of it and pulled out a piece of paper. If you have a system that works for you, let it be.
12. And - keep your sense of humor about it all. Keep it in perspective.
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he doesn't become a monster." -- Nietzsche
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