Posts Tagged ‘stop doing list’

Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great” and “Built to Last,” was speaking before a group of people, and in the last 10 minutes or so of his speech he addressed young emerging leaders. One of the ten things he advised young leaders to do was:

“If you woke tomorrow morning and discovered you inherited $20 million and had discovered you also had terminal disease with 10 years to live, what would be on your stop-doing list?”

The next point Mr. Collins made was “Start your stop-doing list.”

Stephen Covey had written in his book “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” to begin with the end in mind. You should reflect on what you would have people say about you at your funeral and begin to live out your day working toward becoming that person.

As I am reading through the book “Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom,” one of the meditations suggested focuses on death: “I may die today.” The fact is we all face death one day, but to assume we are given tomorrow leads us to a point of delaying the good we might otherwise do today. If I live with the knowledge that I may die today, the actions I take and the things I do would be far different than if I lived with the notion that I have tomorrow.

Christianity holds the same thought. In the book of James, it says,

Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will got to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

It would seem that all these thoughts around death and the shortness of life would be discouraging. For some it would be. For those who grasp an understanding of our brevity of life on this earth, it motivates them to focus on what is truly important. We would express more gratitude, show more compassion, and live each day to its fullest.

Some might even say, “What’s the point of planning any long-term goals?”  It isn’t that we don’t plan for the future, it is that we live each day to achieve what we see ourselves becoming. If your goal is to be the CEO of a large corporation, you know that it takes daily actions to get there. You don’t put off reading that book one more day. If you goal is to be remembered as a loving spouse, you don’t put off those words of encouragement until tomorrow. If your goal is to be financially free at the age of 40, you don’t put off saving money now to buy that gadget that is the latest and greatest.

Normally, we would not associate death as being a motivator to LIVING life. Yet death’s ability to steal from us our potential for leaving a legacy is not a power I want to ignore. I choose to acknowledge my finite nature and LIVE today doing what will advance my goal of being the person I want to be remembered as.

“We have ever-expanding ‘to do’ lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing,–and doing more. And it rarely works. Those who built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of ‘stop doing’ lists as ‘to do’ lists. They displayed a remarkable discipline to unplug all sort of extraneous junk.”

Jim Collins, ” Good to Great”

I have often heard that when you want something done, give it to a…oh you heard that one, too. The issue is that the busy person may only be that, busy, not successful. We are on a journey to success, and if we are going to focus on our core genius, delegate what is not at our core, and build a team around us, then we also need to learn to say, “no.”

The greater your level of success, the more attention you will start receiving from all over. We live in a time where people make themselves available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our cell phones have become a hub of instant connectivity. Co-workers, employees, telemarketers, vendors, family members, friends, and complete strangers are all an instant away and can distract you from your core pursuits. It is time to start creating your “stop doing” list.

Once you begin to create a stop-doing list, it is easy to transfer that list into policies. If you have a policy, people tend to treat that differently. You begin to gain respect from others when you are clear about how you will interact. Here are a few personal and business “don’t do” polices that Jack has(p.293-293):

  • I never lend my car to anyone for any reason.
  • I don’t lend money. I am not a bank.
  • I don’t discuss charitable contributions over the phone. Send me something in writing.
  • I don’t give endorsements for books of fiction.
  • I don’t lend my books to other people. They rarely come back, and they are the source of my livelihood, so I don’t lend them out.
  • I don’t do individual counseling or coaching. There is greater leverage in working with a group.
  • I don’t take calls on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those are writing days.

What are some “stop doing” things you need to have on your list? Start by looking at where you are spending your time and evaluate its worth. If you are spending 2-4 hours responding to email, is that helping you advance you in your core genius? James Malinchak is a professional speaker and trainer. In a recent conference with him, he said that he doesn’t correspond via email. He does, however, respond to EVERY handwritten letter or note he receives. He has learned the value of his time and responding to emails would consume too much of his time. What do you need to put on your “stop doing” list?

Bob Burg has taught a great response to use when people ask you to do something and you want to say no diplomatically and without attaching an excuse. Simply say, “Thank you so much for your kind offer, while it is not something I would pursue, I’m delighted you thought of me.” This response allows you to say no and it is done. This is a lesson all successful people need to learn to maintain control of their time, effort, and energy.

As you learn to say, “no,” you will free yourself from becoming busy doing, doing, doing, and start achieving what you set out to become: successful!


(Our daily journey of the last 64 days of 2011 is centered on the principles found in Jack Canfield’s book, “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.” In his book, he encourages his readers to begin teaching others these principles. I would highly recommend that you buy a copy of the book and join us on a journey to a better you.)