Philie Group Blog

You Know What to Do. What’s Holding You Back?
By Mike Philie

Whether you’re an owner of a business, a senior leader, or a sales representative, it’s easy to fall into a trap of day-to-day inaction. Sometimes known as failure to launch or kicking the can down the road. You get inundated with a range of issues and opportunities that compete for your attention daily. Separating these into three categories: what you like to do, must do, and should do can make your head start to hurt. Creating a filter, that works for you in identifying what you are uniquely qualified to do and will make a positive impact on the business may be a good place to begin your flight path.

We are all creatures of habits, and we like to make lists of things to do. Sometimes these are on a yellow pad, a napkin, or on your phone or computer. By the way, making the lists is the easy part, we are all good at that. In fact, we tend to throw everything we can think of on that list. Feeling that we’re being productive is another one of our tendencies. So, armed with a list that extends from here to there, we stare at it, looking for things we can do to “cross it off the list.” The natural tendency is to pick off the easy ones, that way we can say we got “a lot off of our list today.” Sound familiar? You may know someone who thrives on this behavior.

There will be issues that just need to get done period. These could include reviewing productivity reports every morning or leading the first shift huddle. Maybe it’s making sure that all new employees are properly onboarded and will get their first paycheck on time. The “must do” items on your list just must get done, today. You can’t push them forward or delegate them to someone else. Maybe these include the things that Nike was referring to in their tagline, “Just Do It.”

The “must do” items may include things that you may enjoy, or hate doing, may be good at, or not. No one asked you if you’d like to do these things, it’s just part of the gig. These get checked off the list, but reluctantly.

Now for the fun part of the list. I’m just kidding as the “should do” items are the things that tend to get put off. They may be difficult to accomplish from a technical point of view. Knowing where to begin and what resources to tap into can be challenging. You’ve also seen things that require difficult conversations, and they also get sidelined. Having that talk with a customer after a project went sideways or forcing yourself to finish the pre-call research and make the call to that prospect you’ve had on the list forever can make one uneasy and watch the clock.

As a leader of a business, it may be tackling the “what do we want to be when we grow up” question and putting some teeth into a plan that will get you there. Conversations with employees who are underperforming or feel undervalued can also be difficult. You may have a list of 10 things that you know you should do, but for some reason have delayed.

Make sure to carve out time to work on the issues that only you can address, and that will make a significant impact on your performance and the business in general. Once you begin, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment and putting your work into action can take you to the next level as a leader or an individual contributor.

Find more time to do these important things by delegating the easier things that you do, just because you like to do them. Find even more time by taking a hard look at the “must do” items on the list. Are they really a must do, or can someone else do it, or can you just stop doing it and it will have little or no impact on the business.

Work to get out of your comfort zone and begin forming new habits in approaching your work. Doing this will pay dividends and will become contagious to those around you. If you have any comments or thoughts as to how you’ve approached these issues, please send me a note, or include them below.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.comLinkedIn or email at

Originally published in Printing Impressions.


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