What Type of Tractor Is This?16th Sep 2021
OK. So the other night I had a very strange dream. It was my birthday, and I was in the middle of hosting a big party. In the middle of it all, I got a message saying I had to go and see my new GP. So I dutifully left my own party and tootled off down the road.
When I arrived, I was given a form to complete. This wasn’t just any old form. It was a massive A3-sized document with hundreds of questions, all in a font so small you needed a magnifying glass to read it.
As you can imagine, I wanted to get all of this over with as fast as possible so I could get back to my party. But, according to the receptionist, I had to complete all of the questions accurately before I could even see the GP. And here’s where it got really annoying. Not far into form, there was a photo of a tractor. Underneath the photo was the question “What type of tractor is this?”
That’s where I lost it.
I raged and screamed and shouted how ridiculous this whole process was. And it was my birthday! What are you doing?
The receptionist responded calmly with “You haven’t completed your date of birth on the form. If you’d have done that, we would have known it was your birthday.”
Now, if you know me, you’ll know it takes quite a bit for me to get angry. This was one of those rare times. Luckily, it was a dream. Although I did wake up full of adrenaline!
My point? How often do we experience pointless obstacles that stop us from just getting on with things?
Where do you experience the equivalent of those ‘what type of tractor is this?’ obstacles in your world? Those processes and requirements that seem to have no meaningful purpose? Those ones that make your work and life harder than it needs to be?
I bet you can name a few.
In a world where the average employee logs only 1.5 to 2.5 hours of productive time in an average eight-hour workday, we can ill afford distractions like these.
Here’s a harder question: where are you putting tractor-type obstacles in the way for others? What processes might you be requiring of your team, your customers, or even your kids, that might be well-intentioned, but inhibit them achieving the real purpose?
And finally, one last question. What tractors are you putting in your own way? How often do you make up rules about what you need to do before you can do something else? How many of those rules actually help you achieve what you want in the easiest way possible?
The stuff like this that we make up is often well-intended. But it can stop us from achieving what’s most important. It can stop us from getting in flow, and keep us running in hurried circles, frustrated and unproductive.
Don’t squash your purpose with processes. Make your processes serve your purpose.
Questions to ponder:
- Where do you experience the equivalent of those ‘what type of tractor is this?’ obstacles in your world?
- Where are you putting tractor-type obstacles in the way for others?
- What tractors are you putting in your own way?
Like this post? When you’re ready, here are three ways I can help you further:
- Sign up to my ‘Thinking from the Edge’ newsletter to get tips, insights and early release information that I don’t share on the usual social channels. Delivered weekly to your inbox.
- Get my book, Change Makers: How to make your mark with more impact and less drama. It’s available here.
- Check out Change Makers Kick Start – an online course + community to help you make your mark with more impact and less drama.