The Law of Priorities states that merely being busy does not equate to being effective. Have you ever been around leaders who move and talk really fast but when you ask them what they’ve accomplished they have very little to show? These leaders don’t understand that in order to be the most effective leader possible, you must intentionally choose to do the right things. The right things are the ones that matter most and the ones that give you the best return on investment for your time.
Think of it like this…time is the most valuable asset that we have, and as leaders we oftentimes have very little of it on our hands. So how we organize that time is extremely important to achieving our highest level of effectiveness. Let me share an example from my own life. As a principal, there are 100 different tasks to be completed at the same time on a daily basis, and I could have easily gotten busy doing all of them simultaneously, and I did! The lack of focus caused me to get burned out very quickly! However, after a couple of years of experience under my belt, I reread about this law and decided to come up with a list of the top 3 tasks that brought me the greatest return and focus most of my time on those three. After much contemplation and reflection, I actually came up with a list of two: communication and coaching. Those were the two things that gave me the greatest return on investment of my limited time. Once I made the switch and started to focus most of my time on these two areas, I started to see much greater results and felt like I was working less. I wasn’t, however it felt like I was because I was engaged in activities that not only brought me the best results, but they also were duties that I thoroughly enjoyed doing.
Now, let’s go back to the life of the Prophet . When we look into his seerah from this leadership lens, you see clearly that he always focused on the biggest priorities at any given time period. In the beginning of the call in Makkah, he focused his time on teaching and training his followers and on his own personal growth in prayer and reflection. Even the Sunnah of Allah is profound in that the verses that came down focused mainly on developing the aqeedah of the believers and their connection with Allah, His Messenger and the next life.
Of course later after the hijrah, the Prophet spent much more of his time on community building and spreading the message now that a base city had been established. Finally, towards the end of his life, he spent more time completing his duties to Allah and humanity by putting the final pieces of the message together. His life is a profound example of prioritizing our time depending on current needs and circumstances.
Reflection Questions on the Law:
- How do you prioritize your time? Which activities bring you the greatest return on investment for your time? Which activities bring the least? How can you do more of the former and less of the latter?
- Think back on your experiences to an example of when you prioritized well and when you prioritized poorly.
Law of Sacrifice: Leaders Must Give Up to Go Up
The Law of Sacrifice states that in order for you to keep rising up the leadership ladder, you’re going to have to make more and more sacrifices. Great leadership means greater responsibility to serve.
This law is exemplified by no one throughout the course of human history better than the Prophet . It seems that all he did was sacrifice for his followers, for you and me, for our parents, for our children and grandchildren to be successful in this life and the next.
The examples of his sacrifices are too numerous to discuss all of them, but I will mention a couple:
- When the Muslims were kicked out of Makkah and were surviving off of tree leaves and random donations of the most basic food from well-wishers in Makkah, the Prophet was the hungriest of all of them. He ate last and he ate the least.
- He sacrificed all for the pleasures of the dunya for a greater cause. Can you imagine if Bill Gates or some other billionaire tycoon came to you and offered you anything that you wanted in the world? Money, mansions, yachts, exotic cars, private jets, the finest jewelry and everything else that the dunya had to offer was yours at your convenience. The Prophet was offered this by the wealthy leaders at that time and chose the life of servanthood and struggle for a greater cause instead.
So the question that comes to mind that we have to ask ourselves is: what are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of Allah and the people? Many of us live self-serving lives in that we do good for ourselves and maybe our immediate families but we don’t seek to make a bigger impact in order to serve humanity. Success is what we do for ourselves, but greatness is what we do for others. Real leadership is all about sacrifice. The higher we go up the ladder of leadership, the more sacrifice is required from us.
Reflection Questions on the Law:
- What sacrifices are you willing to make to keep climbing the ladder of leadership?
- What sacrifices have people made for you to help you get to where you are today?