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The beauty of a routine


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My wife is an artist and works primarily in clay. The pieces are very creative, many bordering on bizarre. (When our children were young, they thought they had the coolest mom ever when she had a piece depicting a hyena devouring a zebra removed from a show!) Her brain is full of so many visions (no, she didn’t do hard drugs as a teenager) that she must create art on most days.

It’s not always easy to be creative. We don’t always feel inspired. Writers’ block can also look like builders’ block, salespersons’ block and exercise avoidance. I’ll bet this week you’ve already avoided a few things you “should” do but don’t want to do.

I’m writing this from an airplane. I’m very glad the pilot didn’t wake up this morning and say, “I just don’t feel inspired to fly to Houston!” He couldn’t. He had a scheduled flight. His life (and mine!) depends on going through the preflight checklist, paying attention to crosswinds at takeoff, monitoring equipment during flight and paying darn good attention to detail during the landing, regardless of whether he woke up feeling motivated.

Routinized work has gotten a bad reputation. I readily admit I couldn’t spend all day on an assembly line and be happy. Even a trip to a guru on a mountaintop wouldn’t persuade me. I worked in a warehouse in college doing manual labor (the same task, night after night) and made good money but hated it. I now have the great pleasure of working with multiple clients at once with differing personalities and various challenges or opportunities in different cities. However, there are routine things I must do to continue being successful. I have to send out the bills. I need to maintain contact with clients and those who want to be clients. I must continue learning.

Some of us have a great deal of freedom as to what we do each day. The higher up in an organization you go, the more you have. There are things we must do that we may not like, but to be more successful, we have to do them more frequently or at least consistently. The only way to do this effectively is to follow the pattern of the guy 20 feet ahead of me in the cockpit of this airplane. Develop a routine, follow the checklist and get it on the calendar.

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Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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