Doing What’s In Front of You

From reports of the state funeral for Nancy Bird-Walton, I was fascinated by this quote of hers repeated by Archbishop Jensen:

‘You’ll never reach your greatest potential if you walk past the dish-washer without emptying it or leave your costume on the bathroom floor.’

http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/sydneystories/sydney_farewells_nancy_at_cathedral

Googling the term I found the quote with more context:

What do you think is the thing that you learned in your early life that stood you in best stead throughout the rest of it?

Enthusiasm, self-discipline … Let me think. Stop for a minute. Being prepared to do anything – not saying, ‘It’s not my job’. Being prepared to use your hands or your head and do something that has to be done. Getting in and doing something. Not walking past the job and saying, ‘Well that’s not for me’. I know I laugh at myself because once, when speaking to a school, the headmistress spoke about how they would all reach their greatest potential and so on, and when I finished my speech I said, ‘You’ll never reach your greatest potential if you walk past the dishwasher without emptying it or leave your costume on the bathroom floor‘. [Laughs] And that I think it’s as simple as that you know. People just drop their clothes and expect somebody else to pick them up and that happens in a family all the time. It’s I think that …

Doing what’s in front of you.

Doing what’s in front of you. That’s what it is. Doing what’s in front of you.

Nancy Bird – Walton – Interview Transcript tape 4

I think this is a good description of a core value that feeds personal productivity. Not leaving jobs undone. Taking responsibility. Doing what’s in front of you. That is why GTD creates a trusted system, of lots of smart lists, so that you basically have the right things ‘in front of you’.

Once you have the trusted system, you still need self-discipline and hard work, but effectiveness is found in simply doing what is in front of you.

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