September is always a very busy month for me. I know better to try and put extra things on my plate. I even felt so under the gun this month that I turned on an email autoresponder that essentially said this:
Greetings! I’m away from email working on client SEO work and a strategic project.
No worries – if you’re looking to get in touch this email is being monitored by me or someone from my team.
(If you are an existing client please forward your email to us: firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure we see this ASAP.)
Thank you for reaching out,
Jenny and The Munn Group Team
p.s. If this is a continuing conversation, please ignore and expect my response in the near future.
So when an email promoting Michael Hyatt’s Productivity Summit came my way I almost hit the delete button. But 2 things stopped me – the fact that the author of my favorite book of all time was a speaker, and that honestly, when else is a better time for learning to be more productive than the month where I can really use it.
So I signed up. And it was the best business decision I’ve made in 2016. My head is still reeling from the truly amazing speakers and tips I learned about maintaining energy, focus, and high performance. I watched each 30-minute video at least twice while I was in the car driving (listening then only – safety first), exercising, or at night.
One of the talks in particular ignited a fire under me. It was by Chris McChesney, one of the authors of The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals.
His talk was on how to drive strategy when it requires a change in human behavior.
And it blew me away.
Because it hit on the exact struggle my clients and SEO students face: the fact that they’re so busy doing all of the normal work that falls on their plate they can’t carve out regular time to SEO – despite their best intentions.
How Do We Get a Strategic Project Done When We’re In the Middle of a 100mph Whirlwind?
What is it that keeps people from executing?
We know it’s the strategic projects and initiatives that move us forward in our business and in our jobs: so why are they so hard to tackle?
According to Chris – and my experience with my clients – people are not lazy, or stupid or defiant. They’re busy. Really freaking busy!
And this, he calls, is “the whirlwind.”
Doing your day-to-day job entails being in a giant whirlwind of responsibilities—wouldn’t you agree?
The whirlwind is so omnipresent – so everywhere – we don’t even know it’s there. We don’t even see it. It’s invisible to us. The whirlwind is the massive amount of energy that’s necessary just to keep operation going on a day-to-day basis.
So what happens is we’re caught in this whirlwind of just maintaining – let alone successfully seeing implementation of a new strategy from start to finish.
This is so true for my marketers, my clients. We’re trying to implement, up-level their SEO, and gain quick momentum in the midst of their whirlwinds. Their already very full plates.
Sometimes it can get done, and sometimes it can’t. And when it can’t, it breaks my heart. Truly – if you’ve been a reader of mine for long you know that I often talk about my clients’ struggles around this consistent implementation. And that if we can’t make this happen, if they can’t find the time to get their SEO homework done within a certain time period, it’s going to be very difficult to get results.
The fact that this condition, this thing that’s so pervasive right now in our culture has a name – the whirlwind – it feels liberating. Like we can name it and slay it.
The Complexity of SEO Diminishes—If You Can Stick with It
Chris talks about how when you first learn something the complexity increases.
But if you can stick with it long enough and really work towards the end – it can become simple and profound. This is so the case with SEO.
SEO is simple, but not easy. It really isn’t rocket science – but it does require adopting a new mindset, changing existing behaviors, and doing a healthy amount of one-time work that requires getting in the nitty gritty and having the grit and resolve to figure out terms and concepts you will not always fully understand.
Human Behavior: Choosing the Urgent Over the Important
It’s human nature to choose urgency over important. Unless we’re conscious of it and can actively work, every day, to make different decisions.
Here are 2 amazing points from Chris:
- The whirlwind is urgent and it acts on you and everyone working for you every minute of every day. The goals you’ve set for moving forward are important, but when urgency and importance clash, urgency will win every time.
- If you recognize you’re always battling urgency – and that urgency is keeping you alive; that’s not bad. But it’s the ENEMY of EXECUTION.
Operating Outside the Whirlwind
As we get ready to wrap up here, I want you to understand one of Chris’s most discerning insights. Important initiatives rarely get killed off quickly. They die through slow suffocation. This is the enemy of momentum and results.
So true of SEO. SEO initiatives do not die with a crash. They go down slowly through suffocation.
A page optimized here. An email to a developer to inquire about fixing site speed there.
3 months that go by before SEO is touched again. This is what SEO dying through suffocation looks like.
So now that we’ve identified the issue – how do we move past it?
How do marketers – who might have a number of these strategic initiatives in addition to SEO – above and beyond their normal operations – get past this?
The answer, Chris says, takes courage. And clarity.
And once you can pull out your project from the whirlwind (he calls it a WIG – a “wildly important goal”) how do you get this thing done?
Because if you leave it up to chance, it’s not going to get done. It’s going to need a little TLC. (OK a LOT of TLC). A change in human behavior.
And to get permission and courage to operate out of the whirlwind – to say no to the urgent – it’s going to take a great leader. That might mean your boss, your company culture…or you.
Awareness is half the battle. Next up for me – reading Chris’s book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals.
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