Is That Newest Opportunity a Distraction?, by Karen L. Jett, CMA
I just received an invitation to a free Covey conference call about extending trust while increasing accountability. For someone who is passionate about ethics and helping people and companies to grow, my first reaction was: This is awesome – will I be available?
My second reaction was to take a step back and look at this opportunity with a strategic eye. Each year I complete my strategic plan. Each quarter I update it with my quarterly priorities. To keep myself on track, I finish the process by writing my three clarifying questions. So, I ran this great opportunity through my three questions.
- Will it add to my expertise or aid in the research and development of my new strategic planning workshop? No.
- Does it help me market my existing or pending offerings? Not really.
- Will it help me to become more focused on my goals for the quarter? Nope.
Sadly, since I am not ahead of schedule with free time, it appears that this opportunity is more of a distraction.
We are all given a myriad of opportunities for how to spend our time and money on a regular basis. Many of them are interesting, intriguing, or just plain fun and we want to participate. But, if we give in each time we are attracted, we find ourselves with not enough time to accomplish the things that are truly important to us. Thus these wonderful opportunities may be distractions in disguise.
Have you ever looked back and wished that you had foregone seeming opportunities?
A simple way to identify these distractions packaged as opportunities is to adopt the habit of creating three clarifying questions. These are yes or no questions that relate to the priorities you have set for you and your company. They should directly relate to the strategic direction that you have set.
For example, if your strategic imperative is to increase sales you may have the following questions:
- Will I learn something that will improve my ability to sell my services or products?
- Will I meet people who are my ideal customers?
- Will it drive customers to my store front (virtual or real)?
The next step is simply to use the questions. When faced with an apparent opportunity, run it through the three questions. If you answer yes to one of them, then it truly is an opportunity. If you answer no to all three, strategically your best decision is to just say no.
I challenge you to write your 3 clarifying questions now and then use them to evaluate today’s opportunities. How many of them are in alignment with your goals? How many of them will help you to accomplish what’s important to you? And how many are distractions that will hold you back from reaching what you really desire?
Karen L. Jett, CMA is the Founder of Jett Excellence and works with small business owners who want a strategic advantage to grow their business or practice. She is the creator of Strategic Plan-ting Workshops where small business owners create their own detailed strategic plans (including 3 clarifying questions) in just one day. Karen is also the author of Grow Your People, Grow Your Business.
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Amy Kinnaird says
Karen, your article was a great reminder that we need to stay the course. There will always be “great opportunities” around every corner, but we will never get to the finish line if we keep veering off. So smart to create the questions to filter supposed opportunities through. My dad similarly had 3 questions he used to ask when considering buying something.