Turn your eyes inside to manage priorities

The petite, outgoing lawyer whispered, “I turn my eyes inside.”

Recently married and relocated from Canada to the States, we crossed paths as she devoured ingredient labels like a prosecuting attorney ready to indict Russian computer hackers.

“Yep,” she told me, “It’s not rolling your eyes but turning them into yourself … to see yourself … to block everything else.”

She seemed to be a sane mediation attorney who cared what she fed her family. Our chat turned fascinating with thoughts of hard-charging entrepreneurs, managers and executives — some strewn along the path; others triumphant — on that road to success.  My new acquaintance did corporate mediation, respected her humanity, spoke good French and yes, turned her eyes inside.

In the 1990s, Crisp Publications delivered a gift in every author’s dream. It asked if I’d write a book on the personal side of wellness. Its marketing plan included a two-book series on personal and corporate well-being. Denied the corporate version (given to another author), I began the research for Personal Wellness. The editor liked the early manuscript but said it lacked something innovative and powerful — ouch! A diligent weekend in Monterey, Calif., resulted in a chapter on Macro Balance, now called the Mastery Circle Life Assessment.

When someone asks, “What’s the one thing I can do to balance my life and still reach my goals?” I answer, “Pick your top five priorities and manage them.” That is the essence of the Mastery Circle. Balance or achievement alone is rarely satisfying; mastery in both is crucial. For me, this awareness is a required deliverable in trainings, coaching and keynote addresses.

Identify top priorities. Like the fingers on one hand, define the top five priorities for this time of your life — not four, not six, but five. Examples are work, hobbies, family, spiritual, education, social life, self-care and finances. When the top five are examined and honored, the rest of life gets easier.

Score priorities. Give each item a score based on time, energy or effort (not just hours consumed). B = perfectly balanced at this time of your life; – 1, – 2, – 3 for slightly, moderately and severely underdone (time, energy, effort). And finally, + 1, + 2, + 3 for progressively overdone. At this point you’ve done two fantastic things: written your top five life priorities and given each an honest score.

Red line priorities: Now we add a visual element to the Mastery Circle. On a pre-printed diagram with the five priorities spread around a circle, we circle each score and with a marker connect the scores with a thick red line. The numerical scores and the visual (red line) diagram highlight the current future state of your life and career.

The start-up and the steady on have little room for error. With a clear, steady base, innovation has a fighting chance to shine. The most fulfilling and sustained accomplishment comes when people look inside at their humanity while applying every relevant factor of achievement. Balanced mastery means creating a healthy mix between your personal humanity and the legacy you want to leave.

The lawyer finally told me her secret, “It happens on my elliptical exercise machine. It used to happen when I jogged; that feeling of letting go of the world and spending a little relaxed, in-the-zone time with myself.”

I wanted to hear more, take notes and, in her own words, retell this “looking inside” story. I had found someone who had reached the ultimate goal of being a well-rounded high achiever.

For weeks I tried vainly to contact this intriguing Canadian transplant. My nose sensed much more on her journey of creating the good life. Her eyes must have been elsewhere since the email never seemed to work.

Rick Griggs is the inventor of the rolestorming creativity tool and founder of the Griggs Mastery Academy for professional development. Contact him at rick@griggsachieve.com or 970.690.7327.