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Majoring in the Minor Things

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

My husband uses this phrase often. He’s very good at noticing when I’m worried about something really inconsequential and ignoring the issues that are truly important. He has that visionary thing going on.

We all major in the minor at times. At home it may look like obsessing over quitting your gym membership to save $100 a month when you are miserable in your body. Or fighting over who does the dishes when you really are upset about your partner traveling every week for work.

In our careers, it is even more evident. It’s the to-do list trap. It’s prioritizing the urgent over the important. This is a common trap for new leaders. They know how to 'do the things' but struggle with big picture thinking.

How many hours a week do you spend looking at expenses while ignoring a large growth opportunity?

How many meetings do you hold to discuss an underperforming manager while ignoring the lack of training in your company?

These are the minor issues that suck our time and energy away from the major ones.

We focus on the minor things for a couple reasons:

1. Your brain likes immediate gratification. We love fighting fires. It’s an adrenalin and serotonin party.

2. The big stuff feels…..BIG. Too Big.

So we go where the feel good chemicals are and we avoid the mountains.

Mountains require planning, equipment, money, change, and oftentimes…uncomfortable conversations.

When I coach clients personally and for leadership development, I hear the same things:

I don’t have time to ________________, because I’m too busy dealing with _____________.