New Presidents make a big deal over their first 100 days. The nation measures a new President’s performance with a collective 100-day report card. It’s not written or mandated anywhere, but the first 100 days is somewhat of an institution.
Here’s my question. What if there is something brilliant about the 100-day focus?
I don’t know a leader worth their salt that doesn’t nurture the type of big dreams and bold plans that call for long range strategy and sacrifice. Most of us get energized by initiatives that might take years to accomplish.
For example. My wife and I started rewatching the show, West Wing and the other day we saw the State of the Union episode. The one where the staff wrestled with whether they should declare a commitment to curing cancer within ten years. As President Bartlett pooled his senior staff only Sam Seaborn argued for it. He said, “I think ambition is good. I think overreaching is good. When Kennedy announced the commitment to landing a man on the moon or Roosevelt declared we would build 185,000 aircraft—at a time when we only producing 3,000—no one knew how we could do any of it.” Goals like that focused the energy of a nation.
Big Goals. Game-changing agendas. Causes worth sacrifice. They are one part of the territory called leadership.
However, if we’ve learned anything over the past 12 months, it is that the future can be downright slippery and impossible to predict. The best laid plans can be demolished by circumstances beyond our control.
So, how does a leader hold the tension of big goals about a better future while maintaining laser-like focus on what needs to get done right now?
The power of 100-day thinking holds an answer.
Intentional execution on what matters most happens in real-time, not in down-the-road dreams. You need dreams to align your compass toward what matters, but you need clear focus on the present to keep your feet moving in the right direction.
Why is 100-day thinking so powerful?
It is easier to keep your focus clear for a shorter time frame. (3 months and change)
It is more likely that you can see and accommodate trends on the horizon that will influence your ability to successfully complete what’s important.
The more you focus your attention on what is immediately in front of you the more likely you are to maintain attention on what is your next best action.
Shorter term thinking keeps your feet anchored in reality and mitigates any grandiose or naive plans pegged to a far away future.
100 days is a time period you can actively hold in your imagination. 12-60 month goals are so far down the road that current reality will loosen your grip on what matters most now.
A rolling 100-day strategy will help you incrementalize the phases and stages of progress demanded by the Big Harry Audacious Goals you long to accomplish.
How to Implement a 100-day Focus
Manage your focus and your energy as a rolling series of 100-day installments.
Make a short list of the handful of things that need to be accomplished during the next hundred days. (The next 3 months)
From that list identify the ONE that above all else is the most important thing for you to accomplish.
Create a “100-day Report Card” and plan your workflow in light of it every week.
Enter a specific target date into your calendar as an appointment to review and grade your performance against your focused goals.
Clean the slate and start over by crafting your plans for the next 100 days.
So, what do your next 100 days need to focus on?
Let me know how it goes.