Is Your Hustle Tank Over-flowing?

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A question from a friend and past colleague and key executive of a consumer products company.

“If my tank is too full, how do I keep it from bursting?”

Anyone asking this question probably has no shortage of energy, motivation, drive or desire to points on the board.  And having the benefit of knowing him, he belongs to the elite right hand corner of the business world’s bell curve, the top % of performers, thinkers and doers that companies are built around.  All questions should make you think.  But questions coming from someone you respect and admire are show stoppers.

So here goes…

First:  “Where I come from?” as I attempt to answer it:

  1. I FEEL this question often.  I’m a magnet for wanting to do too much, and actually acting on that desire.
  2. I have NEVER successfully conquered it!

My Hustle Tank has probably be on E < 10% of the time.  “BURSTING” 75% of the time.  And the remaining is probably “on balance.”

That’s why the question is intriguing.

My answer?

I’m not sure a Hustle Tank on the verge of bursting is an emergency.  I could probably create an argument that the tank bursting and the reasons behind it is what got you to this point in life.

Having said that, stress of all sorts can create a barrier to truly excellent performance, so dealing with it is important.  Also, it is possible to overplay one area of life (business), at the expense of the other.

First thought that comes to mind?

  • Take care of your life’s #1 partner:  Spouse/significant other.  I’ve been lucky.  I call my wife my life’s greatest SECRET WEAPON.  I’m FAR from a marital expert, but DO know that a rock solid partner in your Hustle endeavors is a tremendous asset that will keep the tank from bursting.  Enough said there…..

Second, WITHIN your business:

  • If you believe that a responsibility of LEADERSHIP is to create more LEADERS, than there is probably an opportunity to serve others, and in the process, have a “side benefit” of reducing one’s own stress.

  • Sometimes, great potential lies in hidden corners where leaders either have NOT looked, or haven’t successfully discovered them.  Finding them takes intentional effort, out of your office and getting to know where the fire is in the organization.  Finding that person within your organization is the golden opportunity….start now.

Make sure they have runway in front of them.  You are about to invest in someone, so you need a real return.  Get the right person, one with a Fire in the Belly.  To sum it up, they need the Killer B’s.

  • Carve out a meaningful portion of your role, (5 hours + per week).  
  • Look for some activity, you consistently do that consumes hours and try and give it up to this person.  I’m not talking about “delegating” I’m talking about transferring a major activity that can be closely replicated and if screwed up by this high potential, your business is not at major risk.
    • Run a weekly results meeting that you participate in (maybe lead)?
    • Spend time dealing with vendors?
    • New talent scouting?
    • Reviewing investment options? (cap ex, acquisitions, etc)?
    • Putting out fires?  The latest turnover issue, R&D issue, audits, etc

All of these are important, you are doing them for a reason and probably are very efficient.  And guess what?  They all can be done by someone else even if it’s “not as good.”

Lets say you pick an area that consumes on average 5 hours of your time.  Commit to INVESTING 20 hours with this person to ramp them up. Don’t just show them HOW, show them WHY.  Roll with them for a few weeks.  Than pull away, have them lead it.  Have them report back.  Coach.  Counsel.  Challenge.

  • After your up-front investment, is it fair to say you can turn 5 hours a week into 1?
  • 3 months down the road, how’s your high potential doing?  Do you have a stronger bench?

Can this approach turn a Bursting Hustle Tank into just a full one?  Maybe.  But I’m SURE of this:  If someone were to take 5 hours a week off my plate so I could concentrate on bigger picture activities, I certainly would have less of a “bursting” feeling.  

Worst case scenario?  A high potential team member has been developed far more than NOT trying to deal with the bursting tank at all.  And that matters most in the Leadership game…  

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