LIL #4 : Lessons I Learnt This Week

Welcome to the fourth post of lessons I learnt (LIL) series. I had a busy last week where I was trying to manage multiple things at the same time. I am not good at multitasking so at times during the last week it became stressful and difficult to keep check on all the items on my plate. But, with patience and better planning I manage to get things done. There are two lessons that I want to share this week. They help me scale better and get things done.

Lesson 1: Keep things moving

This is the most important lesson that a leader should keep in mind. You can’t become a bottleneck in the system. There are two ways you can become a bottleneck

  1. Trying to fix a broken system by halting it and fixing it in one go. This does not work. You will end up overwhelming yourself and make more enemies than friends. You have to do it in piecemeal manner – one small step at a time keeping people aligned with your end goal. You don’t even have to tell your end goal. Keep making small tactical changes keep large strategic goal in mind.

  2. Not taking decisions quickly. If you are not used to taking decisions that impact others then it will be stressful and overwhelming when you are put in such a situation. Most people want to delegate decisions or not own them completely. As a leader, you have to understand that not all decisions are equal and not taking a decision is also a decision. I like Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon mental model on decision making. He says you should ask yourself whether a decision is reversible or irreversible.

Some decisions are consequential and irreversible or nearly irreversible – one-way doors – and these decisions must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation. If you walk through and don’t like what you see on the other side, you can’t get back to where you were before. We can call these Type 1 decisions. But most decisions aren’t like that – they are changeable, reversible – they’re two-way doors. If you’ve made a suboptimal Type 2 decision, you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through. Type 2 decisions can and should be made quickly by high judgment individuals or small groups.

As it turns out most decisions that we have to take are reversible. So, we can take decisions faster and keep things moving.

Lesson 2: Outcome over ego

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. – Harry S Truman

I became aware of this when I first read a tweet by Shane Parrish a year back.

In most organizations, a leader ego is bigger than anything else. So, it becomes difficult to collaborate effectively and achieve meaningful goals.

I also do the mistake of taking myself too seriously at times. This leads to missed learning opportunities as I think I have all the answers. I am not interested in finding the solution but more interested in satisfying my ego. Accepting that you don’t have all the answers and can learn from others is important for building meaningful relationship with fellow colleagues.

I try hard not to let my ego come between the outcome but it takes a lot of practice and self-awareness to do the same. This means listening to others, talking and convincing people you don’t want to talk, letting go of certain emotions, and applying Hanlon’s Razor mental model.

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