Defining Your Core

Our goal as leaders is to continually increase our influence (our universe), but we run into limitations imposed by our capacity to produce. There is only so much we can do. Defining our core helps us reduce the percentage of our universe that we actively touch. So how do we do it? We start by taking inventory of our professional universe – the whole of that which we oversee. We then pull from that inventory those things that only we can do. Those tasks represent the first level of discipline required in defining one’s core. We then aggressively deny engagement in anything that anyone else can do. That’s the second level of discipline and it is under constant attack for reasons like:

  • we like doing certain things
  • we’ve always done them
  • we’re good at them
  • engaging in some activities is like scratching an itch; they’re satisfying
  • we decide that doing them is just faster and easier than orienting someone else to them

Involvement in activites and tasks that are outside our core tend to swell it, thus reducing our availability for doing those things that really leverage our skills and contributions. Keep in mind that periodically engaging in them is okay, even appropriate at times, if they are done consciously and identified as anomalies. After doing them our core snaps back to its best shape and size.

Theoretically, our professional universe can expand infinitely. What we have to do as it grows is redefine what it is that we must let go of and what it is that only we can do. Since we tend to gravitate, in trying times, toward those things in which we are confident, we find ourselves clinging to things that represent our former roles; and are now parts of others’ new roles.

To grow as leaders we must challenge ourselves to define our cores, and aggressively protect them.