Breaking the addiction to firefighting

Just one month ago, I’d be spending each day in firefighting mode from I got out of bed until 4 or 5pm. Then I’d feel like I was waking up out of a trance, and now my day was ready to begin. Now I could get on with the projects I wanted to get on with. And the day was almost over!

Today, I wake up, and my days are free to be a leader for my amazing employees, and to be creative on the projects I want to work on for my business.

What happened?

The shift began a few days before the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco. During a conversation with my coach, it became very obvious to me that all this fire-fighting was going on, and that even though I was busy justifying it as being good for business, deep down I knew it was a trap.

During the first day of the conference, people kept hammering on the importance of meditation and slowing down, and it felt like the universe was sending me a message loud and clear. I vowed to do something about it.

What was really consuming my time was the daily onslaught of bugs and customer service issues that required investigation, development, or both. Being the one to have coded everything, I was really the only person able to take care of most of these things the right way.

So in my mind, I thought it was going to be about a 3-month transition, where I would get my customer service person to talk to my software developer, and get them to work out customer issues that came up together, and to get them to the level where they were able to handle everything on their own.

Boy, was I mistaken.

What happened was, I got both of them on Skype one morning, talked them through what I wanted to do, and asking if they would like to agree to that as well. At the time, Swanand, my developer was new, he’d only been with us for 2-3 weeks. Kristine had been there for a few months. They didn’t even have each others’ contact info, that’s how much I’d put myself in the center of everything.

The transition ended up taking a day. One day. Kristine and Swanand talk to each other and take care of almost everything on their own. I talk to both of them almost every day. So maybe there’ll be some issue that Kristine has asked Swanand to help with. Then Swanand reaches out to me and says he needs me. We talk and figure it out together. He takes it from there, talks with Kristine, and together they resolve things.

From one day to the next, I’ve been taken almost completely out of the loop, our customers get better and faster service, I can focus on leading and building the business over fighting fires.

What became so obvious in this shift was that this was never about the reality of how much work there was to do. It was all about my addiction to feeling like I was making a ton of progress while in reality being busy spinning wheels. All it took was me being willing to admit the truth and let go of my addiction to fixing stuff.

It really brings home Gay Hendricks’ great point: Whatever you have in your life for more than a little while is what you’re committed to, consciously or unconsciously. Change the commitment, and the results change.

So what are you committed to, and what commitments are you willing to change?