The Art of Following Through

May 20, 2021

Success can begin by making a great list.

What are you doing? No, not right this minute. I know you are reading my article. Hopefully you magazine readers are just skipping here, to the last section where all the fun stuff is happening.

Back to the question: What are you doing?  

Do you have a plan when you wake up in the morning or are you just hoping for the floor to meet your feet when you roll out of bed? Do you end the day reflecting on what you did and set up for tomorrow, or do you just hope that all things needed will greet you at the front door as you are turning the key? Do you know if you are winning, or are you losing? We are not talking about balance sheets; we are talking about balanced lives.  

Do you have a plan? Are you doing it? How can you tell? What are you doing?! One of the easiest ways to determine this is with a simple plan and a simple list. Using the guidance of Andy Frisella, let's draw out the three steps in success. Make a list, execute on that list, do it now.  

Make a list.

My office is full of lists. Behind me sits a white board of items—upcoming projects, projects I am working on, and items I am waiting on from others so I can continue or finish.  When I open my phone, there are lists of things to do, things to buy, and events to attend. 

Yet nothing has been more impactful than the notebook that sits next to my keyboard that has on it a date, five things to do, and side notes about the events as they transpire.  

The five things are very specific, measurable and line up with my overall goals. These are not things you do every day, but things you need to do that day to meet your goals for today and tomorrow. 

It must also be measurable. It’s not “eat better, be more effective in the meeting, study, be better than yesterday.” It’s more like “don’t eat those cookies the girls made, bring three points to the floor during the meeting, learn how to use PDF to distribute information, and walk one street further than you did yesterday.” 

If you are not specific in your goals, you leave it up to interpretation. As we know in media, law and politics, interpretation can be a dangerous world.  

Execute that list.

The entire exercise is about actually doing something to make you better. My pen stays right next to that list because I know I need it to mark things off. I absolutely love looking at a list that is all crossed off.  

When you look down at that paper and it's filled with notes and five items all scratched off, you’ve won. If you look at that list and four out of the five things were scratched off, you’ve lost. There is no in-between.  Staring down at that uncrossed item is haunting. It says, “You didn’t live up to your goals of what today was about.” 

Four items out of five is “good,” and in most places an 80 percent grade passes. I’m reminded of the words of Jim Collins: “Good is the enemy of great.”

Eighty percent gives you a B, and 100 percent gives you an A+.  I haven’t set foot in a successful company yet that didn’t look at results and say, “Where and what are we leaving  on the table?” Or use some other intriguing phrase you want to insert. Just be sure to raise one eyebrow and put your pinky finger to your mouth when you do. Or twist your mustache if you got one. That’s actually preferred when looking at results.

Do it now.

Control your day! This starts about by you making that list and spending all of your time and efforts getting that list knocked out before other influences intervene. How can you possibly commit to outside issues when you have so much on your plate? You really can’t. 

So, get it done. Don’t wait till after lunch, when someone else is ready, or when things settle down. This is about you taking control of your actions and your path way more than you going that extra block. 

You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day or that you should start your day off on the right foot. This is because your start dictates your finish. If you decide to delay your goals, you are telling the world that your goals are not the most important thing. They are! 

These three things will be the foundation of success. Make a list, execute on that list, and do it now! You can make your own plans and execute on them, or just sit back and be part of someone else’s plan. It’s your choice! 

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