Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Am I hunting antelope or field mice?

I came across this question from Tim Ferriss' Tools of Titans during my summer reading, it's quite apt  for my first post of 2019, as I have a feeling it will probably be the question I will pivot around again and again during 2019. It features as question #13 of Tim's 17 questions that changed his life. I've lifted the description here on this blog so I can keep coming back to it.

Am I hunting antelope or field mice?

Quoted from Tools of Titans, 17 Questions that changed my life:
Newt Gingrich is one of the most successful political leaders of our time...Now that he's in the private sector, Newt uses a brilliant illustration to explain the need to focus on the big things and let the little stuff slide: the analogy of the field mice and the antelope.
A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So a lion than spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death. A lion can't live on field mice. A lion needs antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. A lion can live a long and happy life on a diet of antelope. 
The distinction is important. Are you spending all your time and exhausting all your energy catching field mice? In the short term it might give out a nice, rewarding feeling. But in the long run you're going to die. So ask yourself at the end of the day, "Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?"

Initial Thoughts?

Five years ago, I used this illustration to pitch my situation at work to my then bosses - I felt like a lion trapped and being tamed by a corporate structure that was stifling the value I could bring to the organisation especially in terms of working across group-silos. This pitch resulted in me being freed up from the HR constraints and kick-started my journey into consulting which lasted about 4.5 years...

Then having spent enough time consulting, it felt more and more that I ended up hunting field mice again (consultants were excluded from big meaty execution decisions and did not have a seat at the table), so I went back into permanent with the same company...I am getting my share of antelopes now with a seat at the table, but more often I find myself  being dragged into field mice problems. My solution to this problem is through effective delegation and empowering my people, the challenge is that my peers and bosses have trouble appreciating this tactic...what I view as field mice problems is not always seen in the same light by the people that further up in the food chain - so maybe I'm not a lion after-all ;-) or maybe I need to find another pride of lions with the same mindset as I...??

It might well be that my current job is not the antelope I'm searching for...that my real antelope is still out there evading me, and could it be  that my fear is the only thing that is holding me back??

So that's thoughts on professional life...in terms of family life, this story could also be applied as well. Being a husband and a father to three children, whilst very rewarding on levels that can't really be measured or quantified well, is probably the most challenging experience one can have...in my case it's about letting go of being a control-freak, not sweating the small stuff (field mice) and focus on the bigger important stuff...whilst I'm an expert project manager in the professional world, the project of a family and raising children is THE most intense project to manage in life...

2019 must be the year I either bag an antelope or at least make strides in identifying bigger game...My RAGE model and my focus on the 80/20 principle in all aspects of my work and life are tools that are helping me on this journey - and if I were to assess my progress since starting with my RAGE model tracking, then things don't look bad at all.

My gut tells me that 2019 is going to be an interesting year for me professionally...

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