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Jan 26, 2020

SWAWT (Stop Worrying about the Wrong Thing)

OK, we need this shorthand. Not SWAT, not SWOT, but SWAWT, stop worrying about the wrong thing. When we share out worries with each other, it is very important to say, “SWAWT.” I want others to say it to me, for I am as guilty as anyone else. I want to be able to tell it to other people, because we all sometimes have hard time prioritizing. It is just a code word, asking to question whether a worry, an agenda item is misplaced. Let me give just a few examples, and see if you recognize yourself or others:

- It is too early to worry about that thing. It may or may not happen, and we have no way of knowing if it will. Worrying about it now does not help at all, and you can в nothing about that possibility of things going wrong. When and if we get to it, we will think of a solution. For now, please SWAWT.

- Knowing the state of affairs in your area of responsibility, I am surprised you chose to focus on this particular thing to worry about. It does not make much of a difference one way or another. You have other, more important issues to work on, and you and I both know what they are. Perhaps you worry about this particular thing because it is more comfortable for you, and perhaps you like or can solve this particular issue. And yet, your time would actually better spent on critical issues that make or break your success. Therefore, why don’t you SWAWT right now.

- What happened, happened. You cannot undo the past. You have learned your lesson, anв other people involved learned theirs, hopefully. Worrying about what could have happened, and how it all could have been different serves absolutely no purpose. Stop replaying alternative history scenarios in your mind. In other words, SWAWT.

- This thing bugs you, because of whatever idiosyncratic experiences you have had in the past. You are re-fighting an old fight that only exists in your head. This is a different day, and a different circumstance. You are irritated about this thing, perhaps justifiably, but it is not worth your time to fix it right now. Yes, you can go after it, spend a lot of time, spend your political capital, hurt your relationships with some people, and why? Is it going to make a difference, or is this just scratching your psychic wounds? Be reasonable, SWAWT.

Staying focused on priorities takes a lot of discipline. Doings a lot of marginally right things, just because they are right here, is easy. It is very easy to fill your day with the great flow of things than need to be done anyway, eventually. It is much, much harder to fish out of the flux things that are truly important. Let us help each other to do that. When you see I seem to be preoccupied with a wrong thing, just tell me to SWAWT. I will return the courtesy. It is not criticism, not an accusation, no. It is a gentle reminder to prioritize. And the ability to prioritize is at the heart of doing a good job.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for SWAWT
    -the energy it takes to worry could be better spent.