Alone at the Top

Time is our most important scarce resource.  Does anyone have enough time in this information overload age?  Our gadgets are blasting us—tempting us with “news” stories that we all too often chase down with regret.  Our TV’s give us too many options, yet we still lament there is nothing to watch.  T.S. Eliot had it right decades ago when he wrote “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?  Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”  We have way too much information, way too little of what we really need—wisdom, and the focus to implement it.  We have urgency all around in a world that needs importance. 

This is the topic of Stephen Covey’s book (co-authors Roger and Rebecca Merrill), First Things First, his follow up to the classic The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Persons.  The foundation of my coaching practice, Leadership Flourishing, comes straight from the prescriptions in this book. 

His time management matrix is transformational (matrix below).  Virtually no one is spending enough time in Quadrant 2, the time quadrant for “important, but not urgent” tasks.  Our most important priorities are usually in this quadrant, and we find too many reasons to keep delaying attention to these matters!    

To focus your time in this way takes amazing discipline.  That is my job, to enable you to determine your “first things” and to be your accountability partner on continually being attentive to them. 

Leaders are usually biting off way more than they have time for.  We identify an incredible number of good things we can be doing.  We think, “why not do all the good things?”.  Well, we can’t do every good thing.  I recently heard MiTek CEO Mark Thom say, “we’re getting ‘gooded’ to death, when we should only be focused on the best”.  We are spreading ourselves too thin.  We are not appropriately determining the most important things. 

Can we focus? I will help.  I take us through a conversation that lets us identify all the priorities you would love to work on.  We list all our priorities but then go through a ranking process.  We come up with a lot of good options that need to be delayed, delegated, or deleted.  We are left with the best things, our “First Things.”  What is “most important” will be highly subjective but will be those priorities with the greatest impact potential. 

As stated in First Things First, manage your time with a “compass, not a clock”.  Know where you are going. Not what time it is.  I’d love to help you establish your “First Things” and the action plan to stay on track towards these.  Let’s put more time in Quadrant 2.  If the leader can focus, the team can flourish!


If you want to learn more about how to eliminate the isolation factor, or are interested in ongoing business and leadership skill-development, consider joining a Convene Peer Advisory Group.  

You can also learn more about CEO isolation in this Convene Whitepaper, “Recognizing and Eliminating the Isolation Factor”. 


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About the Author

David fischer

Dave has determined his purpose is the growth of human flourishing of St. Louis.  He settled upon this after meeting Peter Greer, CEO of HOPE International, and reading his Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing.  Human flourishing results when the workforce is productive and businesses prosper.  It is when people have the training and tools to utilize their God-given skills and abilities to create, and grow, and produce.  As businesses flourish, there is substantial spillover such that the whole community prospers.  Dave views this economic development for the St. Louis region his purpose for the balance of his career.

To learn more about his coaching practice and connect with David, view his profile or connect with him here.