My key takeaway from the fabulous book Essentialism is that you can only have one priority.
“Priority” is a singular word.
I simply cannot say that both my wife and my work are my priority. That’s a cop-out. It leads to me typing on my laptop while I try to have a conversation with her. Both will suffer when I don’t make a choice.
Leaders must make a choice.
The purpose of setting a priority is to make decisions really easy: this thing is the focus, so everything else has to get out of the way. My wife is home, so work goes away. No thinking required.
Personally, when I decided that Byrdseed.TV was my priority, it meant that I had to shut down my speaking career as quickly as possible. I couldn’t possibly do both well.
There was a feeling of burning my boats. I couldn’t turn back. I couldn’t hide behind four other priorities. We should be truly committed when we set our priority. At the end of the week, I have either made progress or not on my priority.
Too many districts have five “priorities.” That’s impossible. How can you make headway in five directions at once? How do you know what to do when two priorities conflict?
And it’s a communication nightmare. Your teachers won’t know what’s important if they’re asked to focus on five things.
So that’s really the test: ask the folks you lead what your priority is. Send it out in a personal email to each person: “I’m wondering, what do you think my priority is with our program this year?”
You’ll know very quickly if you’ve established a clear priority or not!