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Your Weekly Leadership HVA (High Value Activity)

CORE Bites 33

Hello Lifelong Learner ...

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions) to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites #33: For those of you familiar with economic theory or game theory, you'll recognize a zero sum game as a situation in which one participant's gain or loss is exactly balanced by the gain or loss of another participant. When total gains are added up and total losses are subtracted, the sum is “zero.” This is also known as Pareto Optimality. When used in the clichéd context of work-life balance, it describes the situation in which a decision to spend more time in one domain, for example, at work, means a corresponding decrease in time spent in your personal life (e.g., with family/friends/self). In essence, one domain 'gains' while the other 'loses.' In sharp contrast, situations where two domains (e.g., work life and personal life) can each gain are referred to as NON-zero sum.

But is this appealing NON-zero sum outcome possible when being a devoted family member at the same time as striving to be a high-performing leader is a tenuous balancing act? If we continue to look at TIME as the measure, then the answer will probably be NO. However, if we shift our perspective a little, we can significantly increase the value of the time we spend both with our families and at work.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Step: While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, here are a few HVA TIPS to help you manage your responsibilities and relationships harmoniously throughout your life:

  • Understand What “Balance” Means: Try this experiment ... stand up straight with your feet apart. Lean over to the left and notice that even though you haven't lost your balance, your left foot is taking significantly more of your weight. In essence, “balance” doesn't necessarily mean “equal.” In life, there are times when your family life or your work life will take more weight depending on the situations going on at the moment.
  • Quality is not Quantity: If we (mistakenly) view the amount of time as the 'measuring stick' then we will always be playing the zero sum game. Instead, being FULLY PRESENT wherever you are (and for whatever amount of time you have available) is what will make the difference. Not to harp (too much), but if you look at the statistics, an average adult spends 304 minutes (5h 4min) daily watching TV (slightly more than 77 days per year). If some of that time was spent, instead, on pursuing 'fully present' activities — being your best self and tuning in fully with family/friends, you'll quickly find that quality will outstrip quantity.
  • Schedule Important Personal Activities: If you don't schedule time in your calendar for personal events, you'll find they don't happen as they should. My wife and I are fastidious about scheduling what we refer to as QT (Quality Time) where we plan some intellectual activity (e.g., discussing an article we're both interested in) or some physical activity (e.g., hiking). Regardless of your interests, if you schedule things like date nights with your spouse/children, meditation/exercise, reading, or any other pursuit that interests you, you'll be much more likely to see them come to fruition.
  • Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time: Each of us is wired differently which means our natural energy cycles appear at different times during the day. If you pay attention to your own cycles, you'll be able to identify those times when you're able to maintain your focus and be more productive. Instead of trying to push through your low-energy time periods (and we're all guilty of this!), schedule your tasks according to your energy; do important work at your peak and reserve administrative tasks for your low-energy periods.
  • Use the Off Button: Every piece of technology you own has an off button. Use it! Be intentional (especially when you're with family/friends) and schedule technology breaks. While this is not easy for most of us to do, if you start by doing it in phases (Incremental Improvements), you'll find it becomes easier to do and doesn't compromise your ability to take care of important items — in fact, you may find that the break gives you a fresh perspective that provides greater clarity.

I'd love to hear how these HVAs work for you!

Have a brilliant day ... and enjoy the journey!


Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA

RESULTant and Behavioral Engineer

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot."

Michael Altshuler 

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