Leading with reverence for time

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Recently, I had the honor of interviewing a friend of mine, Niket Desai, for a leadership course at Berkeley. I invited him to speak on what can be a mundane topic – objectives and key results, or one common format of organizational goal setting – because of his particular focus within it: deep reverence for other people’s time.

So this week, I invite you to spend time considering how you spend your time, and how you ask others to spend theirs. The nation continues to grieve Black lives whose time ran out far too soon. And many are tired after months spent adapting to the uncertainty of COVID, and weeks of grappling with a more complete

narrative of the role of racism in modern day America. The world can feel like it is pulling us in a thousand directions. The power to focus lies with us.

As a leader, you have the added responsibility of influencing how others spend their time, in addition to allocating your own. And yet, we often spend little time or thought on exactly what we ask. This month, or perhaps this quarter, you are in charge of setting the targets that dictate how others will spend a meaningful amount of their “one wild and precious life,” to call in Mary Oliver.  

I found Niket’s Medium article back when it was just a Google doc, written with the hope of encouraging others to join him in his reverence for time: “The most nefarious, limitless resource that’s actually finite is time. And so, the reason why it really mattered to me that people become better at planning and better at communicating those plans is that it directly impacts other people’s lives… It’s wholly saddening to me that managers and people in leadership positions or authorities don’t spend tremendous time thinking about that.”

On the flip side, it can be wholly rewarding to make wise, thoughtful asks of the people around you. Focus can free them up to spend time with their families, engage in our democracy, volunteer for a cause that gets them fired up, or get much needed rest. 

This month at LeadingX2, focus let us broaden our definition of “work” and contribute $2500 to five nonprofits that walk alongside Black youth, and let us celebrate matching support and contributions from all of you. Our vision, mission, values and structure allowed us to add a clear objective of impact – one that falls outside of our “traditional” scope of work – and a key result of measurable evidence of our commitment. Our objective of contributing to change remains, but we nailed the short-term the key result. THANK YOU for joining us! 

Now, you may have heard Dan speak to the great importance of goal setting in the past. Consider revisiting this practice with a new lens. The interview with Niket is 26 minutes long, but it offers mechanisms of focus that could return you and your team hours of your lives. What a return on investment. 

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