Your Stop Doing List: 7 Things To Banish Today To Make Progress

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stop doing list

As a leader, there are things you do every day.

Some help—others, not so much.

I’ve found that as I’ve grown as a leader, I’ve regularly had to change how I think, how I lead, and what I say.

Fortunately, there are hacks you can learn along the way that will help you get better faster.

What follows are some things you can easily banish as a leader starting today. Eliminating all of them or most of them will give you immediate traction.

Here are 7 things you should stop doing today if you want to make progress.

1. Lead by intentions

Your kids aren’t going to remember your intentions. Neither will your spouse nor your church. The people who count on you only ever see your actions.

This likely means no one’s going to stand next to your casket or urn and say, “He wished he was nicer” or “He had always hoped to be more strategic” or “She really wanted to overcome her fear.”

Legacies never get built on intentions. They’re built on action.

So get over your intentions and start acting.

Legacies never get built on intentions. They're built on action. Click To Tweet

2. Use words that start with “Some”

If you want to get nothing meaningful done, just use words that start with “some” a lot. Like in every conversation or meeting you’re in.

What ‘some’ words? Well…

  • Somebody
  • Someday
  • Sometime
  • Something

These words end up sounding like this: Somebody should do something about that sometime someday.

Guaranteed zero action happens. Ever.

Leadership is not simply talk. In fact, talking about doing something again and again is not leadership, it’s delusion.

Talking about doing something again and again is not leadership, it's delusion. Click To Tweet

There’s only one ‘some’ word I can think of that I like, and that’s somehow.

Somehow can be an amazing word when you’re up against an impossible task and someone asks you, “How on earth will we do this?” and you reply, “I don’t know. But somehow we’ll figure it out.”

Now that’s awesome.

But someone somewhere sometimes means no-one nowhere ever. Trust me.

Someone, somewhere, sometimes means no-one nowhere ever. Click To Tweet

3. Unnecessary meetings

The value of meetings once you get beyond the creative process or meetings to nail down a few logistical details is pretty low.

For the most part, meetings are the enemy of work.

Far too many leaders waste their lives in meetings. Instead of doing what they’re called to do, they meet about what they’re supposed to be doing.

Dreams can be born in meetings, but far more often, dreams die in meetings.

Meetings are the enemy of work. Do your work instead.

Meetings are the enemy of work. Do your work instead. Click To Tweet

4. Fear

Fear is the thief of hope. It kills leadership. It murders courage.

Way too many leaders I know, live in fear.

The difference between effective leaders and ineffective leaders is simple: all leaders feel fear. The effective ones push past it.

Fear is the thief of hope. It kills leadership. It murders courage. Click To Tweet

So, what’s the antidote to fear?

While there are a few, believe it or not, I think one of the antidotes to fear is the fear of the right thing.

If you’re going to be afraid, I suggest you fear this:

Be afraid of never accomplishing your mission.

That will give you courage, or at least determination. And that, in turn, will grow your faith.

If you're going to be afraid, be afraid of never accomplishing your mission. Click To Tweet

5. The Desire to Be Liked

Leadership requires you to take people to destinations they would not go without your leadership.

Stop for a moment and, if you would, re-read that sentence.

Do you see the challenge?

Leadership is inherently difficult because it requires a leader to take people where they don’t naturally want to go.

So, you have a choice as a leader.

You can focus on leading people, or focus on being liked.

When you focus on being liked, you will instinctively try to please the people you’re leading. And when you do, you will become confused.

Pleasing people is inherently confusing because people don’t agree. One person wants it one way. Another wants it another way.

And soon, you’re bending over backward to make everyone happy, which of course means that in the end, you will end up making no one happy, including yourself. It’s actually a recipe for misery for everyone.

It’s also a recipe for inertia.

If you focus on being liked, you’ll never lead. You will never have the courage to do what needs to be done.

If you focus on being liked, you'll never lead. Click To Tweet

6. Selfishness

Ambition can be a good thing. It’s great to have hopes and dreams for your mission.

But selfish ambition is a different creature.

Ambition kills servants of God and turns them into servants of themselves.

Enough said.

Ambition kills servants of God and turns them into servants of themselves. Click To Tweet

7. Blaming Others

It’s so easy to blame everyone else and everything else for your lack of progress as a leader.

If you want to keep not making progress, keep blaming others.

The opposite of blame is responsibility. If you think about the leaders you admire most, they’re probably the most responsible leaders you know.

Great leaders never assign blame. Instead, they assume responsibility.

Great leaders never assign blame. Instead, they assume responsibility. Click To Tweet

Can't find the time to get it all done? Become a high-impact leader without burning out (or sacrificing yourself).

Without a new strategy and approach, it's easy to continue to:

  • Sacrifice family on the altar of work
  • Overcommit and underdeliver
  • Have no time for what you actually want to do
  • Struggle to get time off to refuel and relax

Worst of all, other people—other tasks, jobs, and projects—will continue to hijack your life.

It’s time to change that by implementing a strategy that works.

At Your Best is a proven strategy to get your time, energy, and priorities working in your favor. It's my step-by-step online course that will help you overcome stress, find a sustainable pace without losing impact, and be far more productive at work.

50,000+ leaders have used the At Your Best strategy to escape the stress spiral and finally do what they want to do—grow their organizations, advance their careers, launch new ventures, be far more present at home, and take regular time off.

Wow! I didn’t realize I was in desperate need of this message and system in my life and business. 

This message so profoundly impacted us, that we named our annual company theme, “At Our Best,” using Carey’s system and resources to strengthen our culture and make health a priority this year.”

Sean CannellFounder and CEO, Think Media

Whatever you choose to do with it is up to you. Join today for instant access.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.