Stick to Your Knitting


“Stick to your knitting” is a phrase from the popular 1980s business bestseller, “In Search of Excellence“ by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman. It’s been popping into my head quite a bit lately.

It most often comes up when my clients are desperately trying to juggle and prioritize the mounting number of items on their “to-do” lists. Just yesterday, when I asked a client to share something he’s learning about himself and his leadership, he said, “The more that gets added to my plate, the harder it is to focus.” Isn’t that the truth?!

The secret, I’ve found, is not to focus and concentrate harder (although those skills can be useful at times) but to consciously choose what is most important to focus your attention and energy on in the present moment. Each day we should be asking and answering, “What are the essential three things I get the pleasure of doing today?” And while your list may be slightly bigger than three – because after all, you are a high achiever – too many priorities mean no priorities. If everything is important, nothing is important.

When we “stick to our knitting,” we are keeping our unique gifts and passions at the forefront of our minds. We are aligning our plans, choices, and responses with our purpose and values. We can say no to other people’s priorities, regardless of how urgent, if they are not important to us. We can say no because we have a “deeper yes” burning inside of us.

How many individuals and companies do you know that are too consumed with diversifying and being all things to all people that they ignore their “sweet spot” and the things that make their organization and culture sing?

As I prepared my weekly plan this week, I was nudged to pay attention to a particular line in my mission statement – the one that encourages me to remember and tap into my unique gifts of focusing, learning, connecting, and sharing. It is a reminder to be me to allow my light to shine and to not be distracted by trying to be something I am not … a reminder, if you will, to stick to my knitting.

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