Leadership can be like Drinking from a Fire Hose

There I sat at my computer.  Every tab and program open.  Tons of reports waiting to be reviewed.  Evaluations to write.  Meetings to be prepared.  Calls to be returned.  Emails to formulate.  The list just goes on and on.  I was failing at every attempt to get it all done.  I was drinking from a fire hose.  I left work every day feeling mentally and physically exhausted.

Drinking from a fire hose means feeling overwhelmed by the situation.  No matter how trained one is for the situation or no matter one's thirst to gulp gallons of water, one will likely reach an overload point.

Leadership can be like drinking from a fire hose.  


Let me explain.  I do not suffer from time management.  I am actually a pro at organizing my time and my to-do lists.

My problem is I like to complete one task before the next.  This position does not allow this to happen.  Multi-tasking is a must.  I know for certain that we must be able to take all the information we are being given and be able to decide how to handle it or discern whether it should even be handled at all.

The information coming at us from all directions represents the water from the hose.  We cannot possibly sip on water from a fire hose.  It is not possible.  The force is just too strong.

As leaders, the problem isn't the amount of work or items that need to get done.  It is more about too much at one time.  It is almost impossible to swallow all the water (information) coming out of the hose.  It is all about swallowing as much as you possibly can.  Absorb it.  Act on it or don't act on it.

Don't let the water hit you in the face.  I think some people tend to become overwhelmed by the leadership responsibilities and just shut down.  Don't shut down.   Don't become paralyzed by fear or become inundated with all of the priorities.

What we can do to help the situation
  • Get past the need to finish one project before starting another.  
  • When information is coming at you, absorb as much of it as possible.  Take notes to review at a later time.  
  • Determine what really matters or the determine your high priorities.  Act on these first.
  • Be kind to yourself.  It is okay to not get everything done or make a decision at that very second.  
  • Don't get caught up in all the distractions.  Stay focused on the tasks at hand.
  • Hustle.  Don't slide your feet and expect it to magically get done.  If we want that feeling of being overwhelmed to disappear (even if it is for a short period of time), we need to hustle.

There are inevitable moments in everyone's life when you question how or why you do what you do.  Almost everyone has encountered this from time-to-time.  But then look at all you do and realize that your experiences ultimately make you stronger.  You realize that you are the best person for the position.

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