Freedom is My Priority, Part 2 – Leadership is a Choice #51

fresh freedomJessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.


In part one of this post, I talked about a breakthrough that helped me see I can take control of my priorities and still deliver at the level I expect from myself.

What I have learned is that when someone says they need something ASAP there is more than one way of handling it. You don’t always have to yell “How high?” when they ask you to jump. What has worked best for me is

  • first acknowledge their request (we all love to be acknowledged when we are asking for something),
  • follow up immediately to establish an expectation around when they will receive it, and
  • close by asking if that is an acceptable timeline.

I struggle handling something with grace when I ask another for a deliverable and get no response at all. My anxiety goes through the roof and I either keep bothering them to make sure it is being worked on or I take all trust away and do it myself.

When someone would simply say, “Hey, I’ve got this. I’ll get it back to you Thursday” my anxiety would disappear. That one line email, text or quick chat in the hallway helped me trust myself to get the job done and in turn helped me pass that trust to whoever is working with me.

Remembering that the things I dislike about myself most are the things I see most clearly in others, I began to wonder if I could do a better job communicating my choices and their impacts on those around me, and poof!, the three steps you see above came to be something I began practicing. Everywhere.

Take it beyond work. Your family or friends will appreciate the same level of transparency and open communication when they ask you for anything from a favor to planning a trip.

Even with my blogs – I used to pressure myself, write every week no matter what else is going on! I would wake up in the middle of the night sometimes to write because it was the only time I could find where my mind was in the place I wanted it to be to articulate my message.

During this whole move process you may (or may not) have noticed two weeks where no blog was posted on Monday. Instead of going into old habits and stressing myself out, waking up before dawn to write, I allowed myself to focus on my priority and to be ok with the fact that my priority was my house.

I didn’t allow guilt when I requested two days off or when my blog editor emailed to check in because I hadn’t sent a blog over. I simply apologized for the delayed response and indicated that with life as crazy as it was I would hopefully have a blog out to him in a week.

It’s ok to take control of your priorities – practice transparency when you do it and don’t look back.

It’s ok to say no to things. It’s ok to decline meetings. It is ok to be honest about the length of time necessary to create a deliverable. It is absolutely ok to be transparent about your priorities and validate them with those you work with.

Whenever you make any of the choices I just mentioned you must always consider and weigh out the possible consequences of that choice. I am not suggesting you wave your priorities like a flag and tell the rest of the world to go fly a kite. I’m also not suggesting you decline all your meetings or refuse to do work.

Ask clarifying questions to yourself or to others – “What value can I offer to this meeting, or can i get from this meeting?”

If you determine you don’t need to be in a meeting, be transparent. Indicate your absence and offer a way to connect if they do determine they need you.

Here’s the final tip – you aren’t a good multitasker. When you try to serve multiple priorities at the same time you don’t really serve any of them. So FOCUS. Pick one, kick it’s a**, and move to the next one.

After three days of focus – moving across state lines, painting 6 rooms, unpacking and decorating (with the amazing help and support of my family) I can check that priority off and return to work Monday morning with a clear head ready to take on the next challenge.

Where my stress used to be, now there is freedom – and for me freedom is the only path to inspired, passionate work.

Are you going to let your priorities control you? Or are you going to control your priorities?


Photo: canessa


Jessica Soroky, CSM

IMG_3285Jessica is a Certified Scrum Master with over three years of practice in agile delivery and seven years of team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of nonprofit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.


Posted in Responsibility on 05/31/2016 01:13 am
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