I was watching an interview this morning on the CBS Morning Show with Andrew Card, the former Chief of Staff of President George Bush. The interview was a synopsis of the role of the Chief of Staff. The interview is timely because Barack Obama is replacing his former chief, Rahm Emanuel, today with Pete Rouse. Emanuel is leaving to run for the mayor of Chicago.
The piece got me thinking. Don’t we all an internal Chief of Staff – the part of you that determines what you’re going think about, what you’re going do and how you prioritize? I think we do.
Every minute of every day we are pushed, pulled and tied down by our own Lilliputians. These mental intruders can be our family, our friends, our co-workers or just somebody we meet on the street. But most of all … they can be ourselves. They are the parts of us make us afraid of things we shouldn’t be afraid of. They make us preoccupied with our To Do lists – lists that often are prioritized with tasks that are more habits than anything else. “We have to check our emails first everyday rather than write a letter, listen to music or just relax and clear our minds.”
Things that dictate our actions and thoughts are no different from what the President deals with daily. He is bombarded by his staff, members of Congress and lobbyists … all with their own personal agendas. These agendas often have nothing to do with those of the President. If he had his way, he’d probably spend his time thinking – pondering the big picture. This is the real President … the creative one.
It’s the job of the Chief of Staff to determine who occupies the President’s attention, and in turn his agenda. Imagine if there was no Chief of Staff though. It would be endless barrage of “squeaky wheels” … with no WD40 anywhere in sight.
Whether we know it or not, we all have a Chief of Staff. Who this is and what effect they have on us is completely up to us. Do we push them to the side and just react the whims of our many influences, both external or internal? Or do we give them the power to sift through the intrusions of our Lilliputians?
How we delegate this authority, this gate-keeping, will determine our creativity. And the extent of our creative development is probably the most important contribution to our happiness. After all it is our life and shouldn’t we be able to live it the way we wish.
But the amount of power our Chief wields should not be the only thing we consider. But how does our Chief interact with these influences. Is your Chief of the “in your face” mode Emanuel, or more of the laid back demeanor of Rouse. You probably don’t want to be hostile to your kids for wanting a ride to the mall or you sure don’t want to create a split personality within yourself as you fight against the intrusion of your daily mundane tasks.
Communicate with you Chief or Staff about your priorities. Make sure they know the things that excite and energize you … the things that allow you to be who you want to be. Create a physical representation of your Chief. Give it name. Put it somewhere where you look at it – so you can re-center yourself every time you see it.
We can all run around in circles chasing the priorities of others and our own priorities that very often are the result what others want and think you should want and do.
Who you select for your own internal Chief of Staff, and how they act, is up to you. Remember you are the President of Yourself … and your mind is your White House.
If you like this … please Tweet it and follow me on Twitter @clayforsberg