Whenever one of the members of the SpringHill leadership team’s distracted from the task at hand the rest of the team will say “squirrel”. It’s a reference to the Disney/Pixar movie “Up” where a dog named Dug becomes distracted from what he’s doing when someone yells “squirrel”.
And just like Dug, we have our own “squirrels” that interfere with either the task at hand or those tasks requiring a long-term commitment and focus such as visions and Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG’s). As a matter of fact, it’s easier for “squirrels” to distract us from those far off goals because we’re often lulled into believing we can temporarily change directions and still have time catch up or get back on track. But the truth is almost every time a leader or an organization falls short in achieving a grand vision or a BHAG, there were “squirrels” along the way that distracted them from the important work. And of course, this makes sense, because if big visions and BHAG’s didn’t require extraordinary effort and single-minded focus to achieve then they wouldn’t, by definition, be visions or BHAG’s.
A good friend of mine, Jack McQueeney, reminded me of this reality recently when I asked his opinion about an overseas opportunity I’ve been offered. He simply asked me two questions “how will this trip advance SpringHill’s vision?” and “Is there anything else you could do with the 7 days that would be more effective in advancing SpringHill’s vision?”
Then Jack told me he always looks for 2 to 3 touch points between an opportunity he’s offered and his job and the ministry he serves. If he can’t clearly see 2 or 3 touch points then he’ll politely decline the opportunity. In other words Jack doesn’t allow “squirrels” to distract him from the work he has before him.
So as you can see I have squirrels in my life, but the more important question is “what are the squirrels in yours?”