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Prioritizing is a pain.

But only when it’s about you.

In fact, it’s often super easy to do for others. When we listen to someone explain their struggles, we tend to know quickly what they should focus on.

But for ourselves? That’s super hard. It means letting go of opportunities and it invites failure: What if it’s the wrong priority? What about the external driving forces? There are bills to pay. Customers to satisfy. Employees to care for. Also, there’s this new trend that would open up great new opportunities and potentially skyrocket parts of our business.

But the bitter truth is this: If we don’t prioritize then someone else will do it for us. And if it’s not someone, it’s time. The one thing we can be certain of is that there are always going to be more things to do than we’ve got time to do them.

Basically, if we don’t prioritize we’re delegating the decision. If that’s not what you want, then you’ll have to make the decision yourself.

What makes it harder than it should be is when we think that our decision would be final. That it would need to be the right decision.
It doesn’t.

There’s always the possibility to change course. Revise our decision. Use new data to make a new decision.

Here are 10 thoughts that might help you with finding your focus for now:

The special ones

Some people are so good at public speaking that it feels out of reach to achieve the same. Their confidence, their eloquence, their whole appearance, everything feels so elaborate that they appear to be from a different breed. Maybe natural born talents.

They are not, of course.

Almost any great speaker is great at what they do because they’ve done it so many times before.

They became good at speaking. Through speaking.

Their first speech wasn’t their best speech.

Their first response to an audience remark wasn’t the most quick-witted remark.

And it’s hard to believe that their first appearance was on a big stage.

They started somewhere. Let’s say in a meeting. Or at a company event. Or they recorded a video that no-one watched. Most of all, they started.

And kept at it. And recorded a second one. And a third.

When they were at a hundred, they were getting good.

It’s not about whether you have it within you (you have!). It’s about starting.

And that’s always within reach.

If failure was an option …

… what would you do differently?

Let’s say in the way you lead your team? Which conversation did you avoid because you were afraid of the consequences?

Or in the way you develop your product? Which feature did you dismiss because you were afraid that it’s not going to work?

How about the way you create? Which thought did you push back because you were afraid of what it would spark?

We’re so used to acting as if failure wasn’t an option that we often shy away from even thinking about the options that could fail.

But time and again when working with my clients, it’s these thoughts that open up new paths. Even if they later decide to avoid the risk, the experience of thinking things through without caring about failing created thoughts that wouldn’t have surfaced otherwise.

So, if failure was an option, what would you dare to do today?

Will you?

Here’s to an open mind

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.

– Frank Zappa

Unlike parachutes, though, an open mind might actually accelerate your journey.

Fear of commitment

Better to play it safe because what if they don’t like it, right?

Fear of rejection is one of the huge roadblocks in many corporate cultures. When failure is not tolerated well, it keeps people from exploring the edges and crossing boundaries.

And yet, it’s not always missing tolerance that causes people to play it safe. Sometimes, fear of rejection is a comfortable hiding place from the actual fear which is much rather a fear of commitment.

Bad bosses who don’t tolerate failure mean that it’s not my fault when I don’t make bold moves. It’s their fault. It’s the bad culture. In a different culture, with a more tolerant boss, I would dare bravely.

And probably you would.

But probably you wouldn’t.

Because what if it’s much rather the effort that you fear. The effort to cross the boundaries and come up with something that’s so good that rejection is not an option.

Fear is a compass. Quite often, it’s a tool that forces us to decide whether we want to stick out or fit in.

If there was no fear …

If there was no fear, everyone would just be courageous enough to do anything.

But there is fear. In real world, our actions have consequences. And these consequences might be not what we like. So we fear the consequences: What if people don’t like this? What if it breaks? What if it’s the wrong direction?

But that’s precisely why fear is such a good compass. It forces us to confront the consequences: Are we willing to take the risk for this vision? Will it be worth it? It forces us to get serious about our vision. To mean it when we say: “We’re heading this way.”

This is the positive side effect of fear. It leads us the way.

If there was no fear associated with our path, everyone would probably be taking it because nobody would fear the consequences. But that not everyone does might just be the reason why it’s worth it.

The point is not to get rid of fear but to navigate fear.

What if you did one thing differently the next time?

Only one thing. But it needed to be one thing that requires some courage.

What could it be?

What would need to happen so that you could convince yourself to actually do it?

Don’t you think it would be worth the effort?

Try something new

This week (like any other week) seems like a great week to try and do some things differently. How about one of these?

  • Smile more
  • Ask more
  • Judge less
  • Question yourself more
  • Question yourself less
  • Say “yes” more often
  • Say “no” more often
  • Take yourself less seriously
  • Focus your attention exclusively on the second item on your priority list
  • Trash your priority list
  • Start your day with important work (as opposed to urgent work)
  • Spend more time with a loved one
  • Spend time with a stranger
  • Learn something on a subject you have ignored, yet
  • Tell a story you’ve never told before
  • Be ok with who you are and how you do things

Feel free to add to this list …

So, what are you going to do differently this week?

Let’s Talk – Folge 21: Ein bisschen Mut ist notwendig

Heute zu Gast: Gerriet Danz, Innovationsexperte, Inhaber der Agentur praesentarium und Autor des Buches „Neu präsentieren“.

Wir haben uns unterhalten über Bananen, deren Schale man mitessen kann, Klettergerüste und iPads, ob Niederländer risikofreudiger sind als Deutsche, über Wetten Dass…? und das Positive an Behörden, die Lust am Scheitern, darüber, was Menschen machen, wenn sie im Flugzeug sitzen, Glaubenssätze und wo sie herkommen und eine Präsentationsrevolution von unten.

Folge 21 als MP3 herunterladen
Let’s Talk bei iTunes
Let’s Talk als Podcast abonnieren
Homepage von Let’s Talk

So mutig bin ich ja nicht

„Cooles Kleid! Ich bin ja leider nicht so mutig.“


Wieso mutig? Sie kam sich gar nicht mutig vor. Im Gegenteil. Sie dachte dasselbe über ihre Freundin. So coole Klamotten würde sie auch gerne tragen. Irgendwie landete sie aber doch immer wieder bei ihrem Stil.

Sich etwas zu trauen ist relativ. Es bezieht sich auf die Norm, genauer gesagt: Das, was man dafür hält. Die persönliche Norm also. Was für den einen „weit draußen“ erscheint, ist für den anderen völlig normal und umgekehrt. Wer immer Karokleider trägt, greift nicht leicht zum knallroten und umgekehrt. Wer immer Heavy Metal spielt, muss sich erst an Jazz gewöhnen und umgekehrt. Wer seine Wände immer weiß streicht, muss sich die Fototapete trauen und umgekehrt.

Dabei ist nichts davon „weit draußen“, sondern nur anders als gewohnt. Derjenige, der etwas anders macht als man selbst, ist deswegen also nicht automatisch mutiger, sondern vielleicht nur etwas anderes gewohnt.

Das ist beim Präsentieren genauso. Leichter ist erst einmal das, was man gewohnt ist, weil man es so gelernt und immer so gemacht hat – für die meisten also typisch voll getextete PowerPoint-Folien. Weil das der gefühlte Normalzustand ist, muss man sich die anderen, die pointiert visuellen Folien erst trauen.

Wer sich aber daran gewöhnt hat, empfindet sich gar nicht mehr als mutig. Im Gegenteil. Er findet es völlig normal. Und die alte Präsentationsgewohnheit schräg.

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Picture of Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz