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With all the economic noise, its critical to get control of your agenda

“God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.”

--                Reinhold Niebuhr

The Power of One concept is not new -- it's the bedrock of everything from motivational speeches to Army One. There's an entire industry devoted to the power we have over our destiny. In the context of Building a Business, we can view the Power of One as a series of concentric circles that ripple outward from the center ... from where we stand as business leaders.

With a stagnant economy that has brought many businesses to their knees, we've been inundated with economic data, shards of doubt and glimmers of hope. While we can't ignore these external forces, we can’t allow them to deter our commitment to reclaiming control of our agenda.

As a result, there’s no better topic with which to start 2010 than personal accountability, the singular touchstone of professional success over which we have the greatest control. In general, accountability is a complex stew of expectations, performance standards, achievement and personality that induces indigestion in many businessmen.

While it may be the biggest challenge leaders face, its attainment is critical to a high-performing organization. The sentiment of the quotation that leads this column reminds us that we must focus on the things we can control.

So, why not begin the New Year by setting an example of personal accountability that can be emulated throughout your organization? To do that, you must first establish a personal workflow system to reclaim control over all of the things that require your attention. It's much bigger than time management or "getting organized" because you must integrate all of the elements of your life into a comprehensive structure … personal, family, school, community, church, business … all of it. Otherwise, the work/life balance you need to stay on track will constantly elude you. An all-inclusive system also helps you to achieve a visible calm in the eye of the storm, and set an infectious example for your colleagues.

Many of you know I’m an advocate and practitioner of Getting Things Done (“GTD”), the workflow framework promoted by David Allen. Yes, it is much more than cleaning off your desk or weeding out your files. It's not something you'll get done even in an entire afternoon. It will only work if you stay with it, review it regularly and keep at it ... but it does work.

I know, you’re thinking … “yeah … yeah … I’ve seen this movie before. I’ve tried something new every year it seems, usually more than once. I’ve come into the office on a Saturday, even a Sunday sometimes, when I’ve been overloaded and out of control. That really helped me … for a while … but it didn’t last and I just fell back into my old ways. I just can’t seem to establish a lasting system to make sure I stay on top of the right things at the right time.”

Let’s be clear … this is not an undertaking incidental to your success. Quite the contrary, it is absolutely critical to your success because there are some things that only you can do … and if you don’t do them, no one else can. But, until you minimize the distractions, stop solving other people’s problems and start preventing fires instead of putting them out … your list will keep growing and more things won’t get done.

As your personal accountability becomes transparent within your organization, it also creates a firm foundation upon which you can build a culture of responsibility. Yes, it's soothing sometimes to admit the evil interlopers that encumber our performance, reminding us that we’re fallible or that it’s not our fault that things aren’t getting done. But, make no mistake ... it's on us. Excuses don’t work. We have to stay on top of our work flow and, as leaders, demonstrate to everyone around us that we are in control, we’re in charge of deciding what we’re going to do ... and what we’re not going to do ... and we’re going to stay on that journey until the end.

It’s up to you to construct a renewed, revitalized and successful 2010. Get to work and knock the ball out of the park.

KBO.

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Lary Kirchenbauer is the President of Exkalibur Advisors, Inc., providing practical business strategies for family and other privately owned businesses in the middle market. Exkalibur works closely with senior executives and their businesses at the intersection of leadership and business strategy. Lary also hosts a CEO Round Table for leaders of middle market companies in the North Bay. Please visit www.Exkalibur.com for a library of valuable resources, articles and insights or join the Exkalibur fan page on Facebook.