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Introducing “Radical Lessness”

by David Brock on May 19th, 2022

We live in a world where we seem to be driven by “Doing More.” As sellers, “more” is the mantra–more dials, more calls, more meetings, more activities. When we fall short of our goals, the answer is to do more.

But, it’s not just sellers that are consumed with doing more. Every manager or executive I meet is consumed by the demand for more. I look at their calendars, their to do lists, there is always more. I talk to them about their “guilt.” It’s always about how they can’t find the time to do all that they think they are doing.

For over two years, my days and those of my clients have been dominated by hour after hour of Zoom/Teams calls. As I look at the participants in these calls, I see exhaustion written all over their faces (which often causes me to think about how frightening I might look to them). They are in more calls, more meetings, for a longer period of time, than they have ever been. And they still feel inadequate because they feel they should be doing more.

Ironically, despite activity levels and “doing more” skyrocketing, somehow, we seem to be achieving less. We see sales results plummet, we see goals being missed, we see projects being delayed, we see engagement plummeting.

Yet, our solution the these failing results always seems to be doubling down to do more.

So what’s the answer?

Well, obviously, it’s to do less!

I know, I know, your reaction is, “Well thank you Dave for such great insight…….” said in the most snarky manner possible, “we never would have thought of this, that must be why you earn the big bucks….”

Yeah, we all know the “right answer,” but everything conspires to pull us in exactly the opposite direction. So what’s the real answer?

I’ll double down on my original answer, “It’s the pursuit of ‘Radical Lessness!'”

The reality is there is no logical answer that will get us to be more conscious of how we spend our time, how we focus on the important rather than the urgent. Everything is important and urgent, and there is more than we can handle. How do we stop anything where everything is critical?

So what do we do in the pursuit of Radical Lessness?

Here’s the secret, just arbitrarily eliminate 60% of the meetings/activities on your calendar. Since everything on your calendar is critical, the meetings/activities that remain will be urgent and critical.

If you insist on criteria, for eliminating meetings, I wouldn’t waste time on trying to prioritize differing shades of gray, I would bias my selection in the following way:

  1. Activities with customers and prospective customers.
  2. Activities with the people you lead, particularly those focused on coaching.
  3. I’d eliminate all internal meetings. And the most critical ones to eliminate are the standing meetings.
  4. I’d eliminate or minimize meetings with your management. Some of you might see the contradiction. If your manager is paying attention, she will be reading item 2, trying to maintain meetings with you, but fewer and more purposeful ones. Force her to justify them with clear purpose and agendas before you accept. If your manager isn’t paying attention, they are probably wasting your time and obviously don’t care about theirs, so eliminate those meetings.

Some of you are still skeptical, how do we make sure we are making the right choices? You can’t, that’s why you are in the position you are in. So don’t worry about being right, just worry about starting.

What happens when you implement Radical Lessness is the important things will emerge. Perhaps you chose the wrong 40%, you will discover that as you execute the meetings/activities. You will find these aren’t the most important and urgent things, and you will eliminate them, shifting your focus to more important things. You should be discovering that you are achieving more. And if you aren’t, then you have made the wrong choices–no harm, no foul, just adjust them until you discover those critical few that enable you to achieve more.

We become creatures of bad habit. We have standing meetings or schedule new meetings, each of which may have been important at some time, but have been continued out of habit, not because they are meaningful. We waste our time because we don’t stop things, we just pile on more.

As you start discovering what is most important and urgent, don’t add them on without stopping at least one current activity or meeting. You don’t want to create the same problem all over again. If you feel the urge to add something critical, delete something. If someone is asking/requiring you to participate in something they think should be critical to you, then have them justify that time and ask them to suggest what you will eliminate.

Again, as you start implementing this process, bias your choices to customers and your people, bias them away from internal meetings and meetings with your boss. And never accept a standing meeting, each meeting must stand on it’s own and be justified on it’s own (But to help reduce the time spent in any of these meetings, make sure you are standing.)

You will be uncomfortable, you will be consumed with uncertainty about whether you have made the right choices. Don’t worry about it, again, the right choices will emerge.

What’s amazing, when you practice Radical Lessness, soon you find yourself achieving more–and isn’t that the real goal?

From → Innovation

  1. Dave Olson permalink

    Thanks for this Dave — great advice and everyone should implement it today, not Monday, not first of next month, but today.

    One of my prior bosses included an annual goal to eliminate at least three activities in our department, each year. There was hedging and we normally didn’t exactly meet the goal, but we talked about it a lot and tried to find things to eliminate.


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