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                                               Working Smarter
Greetings dear friends & welcome to my world again this week. Regretfully, I have witnessed some sloppy responses & lack of simple administrative efficiencies this week. There is a story about a very gifted & competent leader who was not working smart.  However, with some basic adjustments, took his game to a whole new level. This leader was Moses, & the story is found in Exodus 18.

The people of Israel had been liberated from the tyranny of Egypt & were headed to the Promised Land. Moses had been separated from his wife & boys, so his father-in-law, Jethro, brought them home. The following day Jethro went to work with Moses. It must have been “Take Your Father-In-Law To Work” day in Israel.

The story goes on how Moses took his seat & from morning until evening settled all the disputes & served as the only judge for more than two million people. Think of all the wasted time spent waiting in line to get a few minutes with Moses. This was very inefficient & ineffective. 

Any dispute which could not be settled was brought to him, no matter how small or big. When Jethro watched this for a day, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” A nice way of saying, “Have you lost your mind?”

Listen to Moses’ response: “Because the people come to me to seek the will of God.”  Translation: “This is just how we roll here. There are a lot of needs, & people come to me looking for help. I just stay at it, & work until everyone gets an answer.” Sometimes we are so accustomed to doing things one way we cannot see how broken our thinking is.

What was painfully obvious to Jethro was oblivious to Moses. This was not about heart or sincerity or his being an incompetent leader.  He just was not working smart.

What Jethro assessed was: “What you are doing is not good. You, & these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.” Moses was the bottleneck of a system broken & creating dysfunction. It was wasting time, energy & wearing everyone out.

When we have poorly devised plan for getting our work done, we will wear ourselves & our team out. You will end up spending a lot of sideways energy managing the problems of an inefficient approach to your work. At times it might be wise to consult an outsider like Jethro who can see things more clearly & objectively.

What I particularly liked was Moses listened to his father-in-law.  He was teachable.  He did not bow up or become defensive.  And he did not pull rank or remind Jethro he was the anointed leader of Israel & therefore responsible.

Moses had 4 issues keeping him stuck, exhausted, & ineffective.          He had a…

1.  Priority issue (he was not doing the thing most important to his role, which was interceding for the people)
2.  Training issue (instead of making every decision, he needed to train the people so they could make most decisions for themselves)
3.   System issue (Moses WAS the system)
4.  Delegation issue (He needed to find faithful people to delegate.  Jethro encouraged him to appoint leaders over groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, & even tens)

Moses needed to learn how to better manage himself, his work, & others.
The first step is to get clear about your PRIORITIES.

We often mistake activity for productivity.  I need to regularly ask myself “Are the activities, programs & tasks I am working on really helping us move toward the accomplishment of our mission statement & goals?” “Am I investing my time in the highest priorities?”

 A “to do” list is not the same as a “must do” list.   As John Maxwell says “you cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”
Clear priorities help me say “no” to secondary things so I can say “yes” to primary things.

One of the tools you might want to consider using is something Bill Hybels developed so he could be more focused & effective.  It is his 6x6 card.  It identifies the 6 key priorities he is focused on in the next 6 weeks.  There is nothing magical about having 6 priorities or working on them over 6 weeks.  The magic is in the clarity of focus.  For you it might be 4x4… the top 4 priorities over the next 4 weeks.  Find a tool to help you, & those you manage to have laser focus on what is most important. 

Before you leave this article, I want to encourage you to spend a few moments answering the following two questions: 
What are your 3 highest priorities right now?
What is something you need to stop doing because it is not the best use of your time? 
In conclusion, to my inspiration & witness of some sloppy responses & lack of simple administrative efficiencies this week. In the last few years I have been blessed with a quote which suggests; ‘What someone thinks about me is none of my business. Particularly relevant to those of us who are, or were, people pleasers. I guess the same will apply to the organisation I was referring ~ if they were even aware of my concerns, for them mainly, they would probably consider it was none of their business… Another lesson for me: ‘I just need to let it go…’  [2]
I hope my comments each week are helpful dear readers; & again, provide just an opinion, from my world. Thank you for taking the time to be with me, I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes.

[1] Lance Witt is the author of the book Replenish, which is dedicated to helping leaders live & lead from a healthy soul.  
[2] Bill Wilson

Kenn Butler
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