Me: “What’s wrong with that crew? They’re taking forever!”
Site General: “They’ve got no FLOW”
He was right. Flow is everything, specifically flowing from one good decision to the next.
Early in my work career, before I began pastoring, I was still learning the ropes of people and project management which have proven to be invaluable, when I came across a scenario that made no sense to me:
A crew of eight healthy men was working at half the speed of the crew consisting of one newbie and one older gentleman with two blown out knees. It just didn’t add up.
Even as I’m writing this I realize that Momentum and Flow are everything from business to family. When I’m in a productive or creative mood everything seems to work out better and I accomplish massive amounts of work. This leads to feeling good about myself which leads to making great decisions. When I’m fatigued or out of flow everything takes longer.
I’ll start with the family piece. There are families good at all sorts of things, ours is good at making decisions. Not everyone is born a decisive person, but this is where good training comes into play and my dad was awesome at making me make decisions. His attitudes of positivity and fearlessness are what I’ve always tried to bring into my own home, and let me say he had more fear to work through than most.
He said this to me once: “What are you and Erin going to do when you don’t agree about something in that area of your lives?” I realize this is not a usual topic for conversation in most homes but that should give you a tiny glimpse into the one I grew up in. This sort of thing was never seen as weird or conflict-related, it just WAS.
That’s Step 1. Decide what to do BEFORE conflict.
It actually works when you decide up front who has the final say in a situation involving ____. Somebody has to or you’ll do the worst thing you could possibly do in the middle of most crises: Nothing. Nothing is normally a bad decision (always consider it a decision) because it puts you on the back foot and circumstance will begin to decide your future for you. When you do nothing the percentages immediately spiral for the decisions following the first decision. Nothing opens the door for people conflict more than… well… Nothing. I would rather make an imperfect decision than no decision at all. Doing nothing also causes your team to lose confidence in you. It’s only easy in the moment.
Step 2. Change how you look at mistakes.
I got in the habit of saying “The only one who doesn’t make mistakes is the one not doing anything”. It burned into our team the hatred of stagnation and “job security”. This means information sharing and leveraging our influence to help each other was celebrated, which kept us healthy and open and put politics in its place. Anyone heard bragging about never making mistakes quickly realized that we didn’t value perfection nearly as much as we did courage, and we had systems to catch errors which allowed talented people to run with the ball as much as they could.
Step 3. Find your Flow and stay there.
I think you need to decide before your day starts what a win is for you and how you bring your best energy and ideas to your team. If you decide your priorities up front it makes it easier to say no to distractions and gets you out of having to come up with reasons why you said no on the spot and it’s accompanying guilt.
For me, creativity and energy must be guarded at all costs. When I get bogged down I run out of patience, things take too long to do, and I put off decisions I should make immediately and end up carrying the emotional baggage around which tires me out even more. Practically I get up and exercise or go for a short walk to clear my head and think about as little as possible so I can come back and attack the problem from a different angle.
You’ll find our daughters able to make fairly decent decisions because we are committed to these principles in our home, but our secret sauce is this:
We are very likely to laugh at the mistakes they make today…
As long as they stay on the front foot.