Last week I had a client tell me he felt guilty if he came in late to the office. Even if it was for a business breakfast with a center of influence or longtime business associate turned friend. Then he went on to say that he felt like he needed to be “in the seat” until five even if he was at a stopping point for the day.

Why is that?

He could always answer more email and knock a few more items off the to-do list.

Wow. Is that the best and highest use of an owner or key executive’s time? I don’t think so, but I get it.

Another client is still the highest performing salesperson, which is actually a challenge to the company’s growth. He’s feeling the tension of working on the business and in the business and how it is getting harder and harder to do both well.

Work like the two examples above are what made you successful, and there is a mighty tension between leading and working. It’s easier to work than lead because the outcomes are obvious and you can measure it. Task completed equals good work. At least it did at one point in your career.

What percentage of your work time should you spend leading, strategizing, and thinking about your business?

Most owners and CEOs I talk to say somewhere between 25-50%

How much do you spend today? Most new clients say somewhere between 0-10%.

So … business owner, what’s the barrier between what you want to do and what you actually do?


What’s up with that?

This challenge is between your ears. It’s a brain problem and not a company problem. You need to shift your thinking.

You haven’t permitted yourself to be the leader. As your company grows, you do more “leading” and less “doing.” The doing got you here. The “leading” will get you there.

Perhaps you are a slave to your calendar and email and there isn’t the time.

Perhaps you just haven’t thought about it, and you work on today and check the boxes off as you finish action items and create the list for tomorrow. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.


Do you run the company or work in it?

Here’s a graphic to help you think about it. Let’s simplify into two big buckets. Strategy and work. When you are in the business the bulk of the time, the work makes you successful. Output matters.

As your business grows and you need to increase the time working ON the business. You were successful because you kicked out a ton of work – output. To push through those glass ceilings, you need to modify and focus on results – outcomes. Outcomes can take 5 seconds or take years. They could be the new product idea or making that crucial phone call to close a deal, find an investor,  or holding onto the vision you originally laid out three years ago. It’s strategy and it’s work. It just doesn’t feel like the old work because you can’t check the box as done.

So, here’s your permission slip to change your mindset and focus more on the important not urgent strategy of the business versus knocking out action items and answering emails.

Outcomes, not output. You run the place. Act like it.

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