I was speechless when I read Bernard Marr’s article, dated May 21, 2018, “How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read,” that an astounding 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every, single day. In other words, 90 percent of all the information ever created in the world was created in the last two years! I can’t even imagine. And, it keeps growing faster and faster.
With new processes, ideas, fads, and each of us adding our two cents in social media, things are constantly being created and made just as quickly obsolete as new ones take their place. Blink, and your computer is obsolete. Blink again and so is your iPod, your cell phone, your job. Even language is affected. New words must be created for us to even talk about these new concepts and technologies.
The faster the change, the faster people race to keep up. The dilemma is most of us can’t. Everything is changing so quickly, it’s humanly impossible to keep up.
Don’t Race like a Hare, Walk like a Turtle
Yet some very successful people seem to thrive in this environment – adjusting to change seemingly effortlessly. How do they manage when many of us feel we are always struggling to stay current? Their secret: rather than racing ahead, they actually slow down!
Do you feel overworked and burdened by tight deadlines? Whenever I am tempted to fire first, then take aim, to get “stuff” done, I remember watching a turtle. Notice how it keeps its eye on where it is going, walking deliberately and steadily at a consistent pace; but a hare will race in a zigzag manner, seemingly in a major hurry, without a clear destination; only that it has to get somewhere fast.
Does that remind you of today’s business environment? People are racing like the hare to get things done as fast as possible. The irony is, running faster doesn’t mean being more productive. Instead, when you are running, you can miss important information that may be critical to achieving your desired results. You can make mistakes or wrong assumptions.
Successful people realize that rather than react like the Hare, they respond like the Turtle. They s-l-o-w down and focus entirely on the task at hand, in order to be productive. When in doubt, they are deliberate and do three things: 1) ask questions, so they 2) understand, and then 3) they get going!
Ask Questions, Understand, Get Going.
People who thrive take the time to understand the context of what is expected (even fire drills) and how this expectation or request fits into the bigger picture. That means asking questions to clarify what they need to do.
Ask questions like:
What is the end result I am expected to achieve?
How does this relate to my overall objectives and a bigger picture? (Fire drills can be an exception!)
Who do I communicate with, how often, and by what means (telephone, face to face, email)
How will I address or escalate issues and/or questions?
Do I have all the information I need to complete this task?
What resources and/or support will I need?
How do I know? (What evidence do I have that I have made a good decision?)
Fast Company Magazine conducted a survey a few years back and results indicated that 50% of employees did not understand what they were asked to do at any given time. In which group do you want to be: the 50% who understand or the 50% that miss the mark?
To understand, ask questions, questions, and ask more questions, especially if tasks are complicated, to clarify the parameters around successful completion.
Now that the up-front work is done, get going! Remember to walk like a turtle, so you can take notice of new information or changes and make course directions when necessary.
Not sure? Ask!