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Seniority is to have less not more

The more senior one becomes in a given field the less that one seems to require. Fewer meetings, less text, fewer data. Seniority seems to be about ruthless prioritization. It's also about effectiveness and outcomes.

I recently noticed a curious similarity between all senior pros I know. They all have less, not more. They have fewer words, fewer tools and they spend less time on decisions.

Remembering brilliant people I worked with throughout the years - I could see what's common between them. Among other...
  • They were able to listen through the whole hour meeting and then produce two sentences that catch the essence of the issue and leads to clarity for all involved.
  • They were able to express in few lines of text more actionable insights than a week-long business trip would struggle to deliver.
  • They were able to make a decision quickly, based on even fragmented data they had because they knew the delay hurts more than a wrong decision.
Maybe it's the mysterious magic of knowledge turning into wisdom. Or maybe it's just thousands of work hours turned into intuitive patterns. Whatever the nature of that skill it seems to be based on two pillars: ruthless prioritisation and the ability to focus.

Prioritisation is key to be successful in the modern business world. There are always more tasks than time to do them. Best pros do the most impactful work first. They know how to say "no" to less important work even if this will disappoint some folk. Someone will get upset, someone will have to wait. But the opportunity cost is too great to not prioritise and best pros know that.

Ability to focus becomes the most essential skill for all modern knowledge workers. There are so many distractions in the workplace. People constantly forced to switch context, interact with others, consume and internalise information. To be productive nowadays means to be able to focus on a task at hand, complete it timely and with quality. Then move to the next task. Focusing is even harder for senior pros as so many people crave their attention. Naturally being servant leaders they want to help, sometimes at own expense.

Some folks try to emulate senior pros. They talk in codes that keep others guessing. They create smoke screens and black boxes so no one knows how they came to a decision. They're always busy. All this is usually frustrate the hell out of their colleagues. Mastery cannot be faked. It could only be earned with years of hard work and humility to continuously learn and improve.

Earlier in my career, I was obsessed with frameworks. I jumped on every new shiny theory I've heard thinking it's the next best thing. Lately, I caught myself coming back to basics, to principles.

I still believe frameworks are useful. You can get some useful stuff from all of them. However, if you know and follow the principals - you can work across frameworks, creating your own unique and effective working style.

So next year I want to cultivate the following principles:
  • Less answers - more questions to ask
  • Less solutions - more problems to solve. 
  • Less talk - smile, and listen more
  • Less being helped - more giving help. 
  • Less worry about revenue - more value for customers. 
Good luck in the new product year!

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