I have a friend who left on a major road trip at 7:30pm when he wanted to leave at 5:00. He got involved in a project that he needed to finish which resulted in his delayed departure.

I have no doubt that if he had a plane ticket for 3:00pm, he would have been in his seat. All those things he “had” to do suddenly wouldn’t have seemed as important. We’ve all been there.

Driving and flying represent two different kinds of deadlines – soft and firm. If you set for yourself a target where it doesn’t really matter if you hit it or not, it’s best to use language that indicates it’s not a hard stop. If you set “deadlines” that you repeatedly ignore, over time your brain (or your staff) registers that “deadline” means more of a “wish” than a hard endpoint.

Both kinds of deadlines have their place. Be clear on which one you are imposing.


About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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