E-Notes: On Creativity and Impostership, Decision Prioritization, and a Mantra for Every Encounter

It’s June 1st! How did that happen? I feel like it was mid-March just yesterday and then I blinked and we’re in June. Wow!

This week I’m sharing three ideas from three of my favorite influences: Shane Parrish, John Amaechi OBE, and Seth Godin.

Creativity and Impostership

I’ll start us off with a quote from Seth that I love so much! He mentioned this comment during a LinkedIn Learning course called “Creativity at Work: A Short Course from Seth Godin” and I truly appreciate his reframe of impostership.

“Do not try to find a way to not feel like an imposter. Of course you feel that way…because you are one. You’re an imposter and so am I! Because if you are solving a problem that’s never been solved before, how can you prove that you have the right answer? You can’t! No one is more competent than you to look into the unknown. When you feel like an imposter, that’s good news…because it means you’re onto something. When you feel like an imposter that means that you have a shot at doing something other people aren’t willing to do. You cannot run the Boston Marathon without getting tired and you cannot be creative without feeling, at some level, like an imposter.” 

Seth Godin, Creativity at Work course on LinkedIn Learning

Decision Prioritization

I’ve been talking with a few people lately about one of the hardest parts of being a higher ed administrator, having time to do anything besides sit in a meeting or put out fires. Time to think can be a rare luxury and you’re already struggling to squeeze in going to the bathroom, eating lunch, and catching your breathe while physically hustling from place to place. There’s time to think and ideate only after you’ve solved everyone else’s problems and gotten your own urgent tasks done.

A white male sitting on a white couch with his fingers at his temples and black glasses in his hand
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It doesn’t have to be this way. Building a schedule that you run rather than the other way around, takes effort, boundaries, and support. And yes, it may include asking your boss to approve hiring a new person to take over one of the three jobs you’re doing. Or even relinquishing some of your duties or divisions you oversee, in order to give you more time and focused attention for the rest of your employees and projects.

One helpful strategy requires reviewing the decisions on your to do list and evaluating which ones can be delegated and which decisions YOU need to make.

Shane Parrish created The Decision Matrix as a tool to help him identify which decisions he needed to make and which could be delegated to others. One important takeaway…delegation isn’t foisting your work on others. When you delegate properly, you foster buy-in, let others test their ideas, build confidence, and over time you build a community of strong decision makers. Shane found that when using the matrix, the number of total decisions stayed the same, his team’s ability to make decisions improved, and the number of decisions he made declined significantly.

A matrix with four quadrants. The top left quadrant says Consequential and Reversible, top right - Consequential and Irreversible, bottom left - Inconsequential and Reversible, and bottom right - Inconsequential and Irreversible.
My mockup of Shane Parrish’s Decision Matrix

On a piece of paper, draw the matrix above. Write a list of all of the decisions you need to make this week. Do a total brain dump…get it all down on the page, no matter how small or monumental. Next, consider each item on the list and which quadrant it falls under. You can code them as CI, CR, IR, and II, use different symbols, or write decisions in their respective quadrant.

All of the decisions under Inconsequential and Reversible and Inconsequential and Irreversible can be delegated to your team. People might make mistakes. Let them make the decision and use it as a teachable moment to improve their decision making skills for next time. When possible, Shane recommends delegating to the person most affected by the decision.

For decisions that are Consequential and Reversible, take time to gather more information and if possible, break the decision down and delegate any smaller inconsequential components.

That leaves the Consequential and Irreversible decisions, which you should make and now you have the time to give these your attention.

If you want to further analyze your priorities, you can use the Eisenhower Matrix in conjunction with Shane’s Decision Matrix. The Eisenhower Matrix breaks down decisions and tasks by urgency and importance.

A Mantra for Every Encounter

You’ve freed up some time on your schedule using The Decision Matrix. One impactful use of your time is to support, coach, and mentor your employees. To swivel your chair as we’ve already learned from John Amaechi OBE.

In The Promises of Giants, John tells the memorable story of a private driver who showed him how small gestures can make an immense impact on an interaction. In this case, the driver had spelled his name correctly on the sign and accounted for his height by adjusting the seats in the car.

As the driver pulled away from the airport with John comfortably seated with extra legroom, he said the phrase “POB” into the radio. When John asked what that stood for, the driver said, “Passenger on board. It means I’ve got you.”

John said,

“It provided a clear illustration of the impact that can be made simply by putting a little more thought and care into the time you share with others. It doesn’t take much really. With a bit more focus and a few modifications, you can make it clear to anyone you engage with that you’ve got them. You’re not just occupying the same space and trading words back and forth. You’ve got them. They are safe and valued and heard and seen and appreciated as an individual.”

John Amaechi OBE

John was so impacted by this moment, he created his own acronym for POB from Preparation, Orientation, and Behavior. It helps him ensure he’s “got” everyone he encounters.

P = Preparation involves thinking ahead about the encounter and getting into the right mindset and mood. He asks, “How do you want the person to feel during your time with them? What would you like for them to get out of the conversation?” He also recommends being hyper aware of your affect especially if you are meeting on screen.

O = Orientation involves swiveling your chair. You need to physically orient to the person, place your phone out of sight, close your email, and meet them eye to eye.

B = Behavior involves giving physical cues that they have your undivided attention. John says to set them at ease and hold your expressions longer on video chat so they can see you

John emphasizes that POB – Preparation, Orientation, and Behavior is “a mantra that should whisper in your ear leading up to and during each and every interaction.”

What strategies do you use to open up space on your calendar? Have you succeeded in asking for and receiving support at work? What mantra plays in your head as a leader? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy June 1st everyone!

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