A New Year To Do List from Jim Collins

At the Catalyst 2011 Conference in Atlanta, Jim Collins offered a 10-point todo list. The majority of his items work well as a personal assessment tool for the new year. Do you want to improve your life? Consider these steps:

1. Assess. Try the Good to Great Diagnostic tool at jimcollins.com. This is perhaps the most geared toward organizational leadership of the ten, and the least helpful for personal evaluation. But there are things to learn in it.

2. Identify how many key seats are on your bus. Make a plan to get them 100% filled with the right people within one year. While this is again geared toward organizational leadership, it has personal applications: Who is among your key group of personal influencers? What changes, if any, do you need to make to this list?

3. Identify Who. The answer to every question is a who, not a what. Don`t ask what to do with your life. Think about who to build your life around. Consider a personal `board of directors,` or a small group of personal advisors for your key decisions.

4. Set a Goal. Create what Collins calls a `personal hedgehog.` This is a modification of his corporate hedgehog using the same principles. (In case you`re wondering, it`s based on the story of the fox and the hedgehog.) The thing you`re good at is your education, training and skillset. The thing you`re made to do is your passion and personal makeup. For example, I love effective communication and I am foremost an Ideator and an INTJ in the Myers-Briggs chart. The thing at which you`re making an undeniable contribution to others is the thing that offers a tangible impact. In life you want to find the intersection of all three.

Collins personal hedgehog

5. Discipline. Once you have the personal hedgehog (and it`s a big deal finding it), begin a daily 20-mile march. Set a daily goal. The `20-mile march` is based on the story of two competing sets of explorers going to the south pole. The one who went a steady 20 miles every day outpaced the one who went long distances and then no distances based on external circumstances. Creating such personal discipline may be a challenge depending on the degree of intensity of your external circumstances. But that doesn`t matter. No one else is going to do these besides you.

6. Fire six bullets. Before the end of the year, test six new ideas. When identifying a target, an artillery outfit doesn`t fire its heavy ordinance right away. It first tests its aim with a bullet. When the bullet hits, then they fire the cannonball. In other words, test your new ideas. Fire small bullets in a variety of directions and see which one hits. Then you know where to go with the big guns.

7. Unplug. Collins says at least two days every two weeks (gee, that sounds like a Sabbath), unplug your electronic gadgets. Disciplined people navigating a chaotic world need quiet.

8. Stop doing something. Create a `stop-do` list to go with your `to-do` list. Discipline also involves learning what not to do. Stopping is equally important.

9. Double your reach with people half your age by changing practices without changing your values. What new practice do you need to adopt this year?

10. BHAG. Collins` famous Big Hairy Audacious Goal still applies. What is yours, and how is it making you useful?