Some people are natural born list makers. And for those who are spiritually inclined, there is a Jewish spiritual practice of making a list each day of personality attributes that require work and reviewing them each evening. It’s like creating a spiritual “to do” list, certainly a timely practice before Rosh ha-Shanah.
In essence, this is what good leaders do. They set goals for themselves and then review their progress on a regular basis. And we can’t expect other people to set the most meaningful goals for us. It is our job to lead our lives and not someone else’s.
After reading a blog post by international management consultant Peter Bregman, titled, Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning, I realized that we actually should be keeping two list: things that we want to focus on and things that we want to let go of. Bregman calls this first list, “Your Focus List” (the road ahead) and he calls the second list “Your Ignore List” (the distractions). I completely agree with Bregman’s suggestion, but I would call the first “to do” list, “Where Do You Want to Go” and I would call the second “not to do list”, “What Are You Willing to Leave Behind to Get There?” Bregman suggests that the first list might have questions like, “What are you trying to achieve” and “What makes you happy?” The second list would have questions like, “What are you willing not to achieve” and “What gets in the way of your being happy?”
Bregman notes, “some people already have the first list. Very few have the second. But given how easily we get distracted and how many distractions we have these days, the second is more important than ever. The leaders who will continue to thrive in the future know the answers to these questions and each time there is a demand on their attention they asked whether it will further their focus or dilute it.”
In the spiritual realm, the practice is to review these lists daily because they take constant focus and attention. And the same is true in the world of leadership. Good food for thought as we approach the holidays.
Rabbi Hayim Herring