I had a conversation recently that made my jaw hit the floor.
I was at a friend’s wedding and got chatting to another guest – Stephen, who happens to be a leading vascular surgeon in the UK.
Inevitably, we got onto the subject of work ….
As it happens, he was in the middle of reading my book. Apparently, our mutual friend had recommended it to him. (The reason this happened will become clear as you read on ….)
He asked, and so I told him a little about my work –
About how I mentor service-based entrepreneurs so they achieve financial security, freedom and fulfilment.
About the typical struggles the self-employed face, and the common issues I see… and help them with … time and again.
I mentioned one of the most common issues … “busyness”. About how “busyness” can in fact stop us from doing what we’re best at. How it can actually affect the whole success of our business.
And this is when Stephen stepped in with his jaw-hitting-floor comment ….
He explained about his job. That he’s a consultant vascular surgeon. That he works for both the NHS – full time, AND has a further private practice.
That he typically works a 60- to 80-hour week. And, prompted from what he’d read in my book, that he recently sat down to calculate where he was spending his time.
And here’s the jaw-dropper ….
In an average week, he is spending just 8 hours in surgery.
He is a leading specialist in vascular surgery. His patients are typically waiting anywhere from 6–18 months to see him.
And he is spending just 8 hours a week doing what he is best at.
Where he is most needed.
Doing what he loves.
Why? Because he is busy with “other necessary stuff”.
Of course, there are other tasks necessary as part of a job with such expertise. Consultations. Follow-ups. Clinical work and so on. So he’s never going to spend 100% of his time in surgery.
There are many, many hours in which he is busy with these other tasks.
Tasks that need to be done? Yes. Of course.
Tasks that need to be done BY HIM? … Maybe not?
And how does he feel about it? Unsurprisingly, he’s exhausted. And he’s frustrated. He wants to be in surgery; saving lives, making a difference.
Unfortunately, Stephen is far from being unique in this situation.
It’s a problem, as we all know, that is affecting more and more people in these professions.
Talented health professionals, therapists, nurses, doctors …. Years of training. Specialists in their fields. And they are spending less and less time with patients.
Patients who desperately need them.
All because they are busy doing “other necessary stuff”.
And the really crazy thing is that it isn’t actually in ANYONE’S favour ….
Doctors are affected as they are spending more time doing paperwork than the job they trained for and love.
Patients are impacted as there are increasingly long waiting lists.
And I don’t suppose this is “natural” thinking in massive organisations such as the NHS, but wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in administrative support, so as to free up more of these specialists’ time? Wouldn’t this make the overall budget go further, too?
Maybe it would make sense for specialists to focus on their specialties?
This isn’t a new phenomenon of course. Nor is it specific to the NHS. And in my line of work, Stephen’s specific example perhaps shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
My jaw, perhaps, should have stayed in situ.
But 8 hours out of 80 … just 10% of his time being spent on his main job, his main skill? And one that saves lives, at that.
It’s an extreme example.
It’s also food for thought ….
How many of us spend hours every day doing tasks that we don’t enjoy? That we aren’t as good at? That have nothing at all to do with what we do BEST?
How many of us are falling out of love with our jobs, our businesses, our lives … all because we’re spending too many hours doing these particular tasks?
How much money … or how many clients … are we potentially losing by doing these tasks ourselves, rather than spending that time on our “specialty”?
And what if we hired someone to handle some of these tasks for us …?
Yes, we’d have to pay for it. And, let’s face it, there’s always an excuse available to avoid that commitment.
“I can’t afford it yet.”
So you’re being held back by doing too much, yet you’ll continue doing too much until the situation improves, and then you’ll be able to do less?!
“I’m the only one who can do it.”
THIS is the biggest resistance excuse. We’d have to relinquish a bit of control… Immediate discomfort at the idea!
However … the person we hire either IS or WILL LEARN to be an expert at those tasks … so maybe they’d actually do them better? Maybe faster, too?
We won’t know until we commit to trying. Yet when we DO commit, we’ll have more time to do what we’re best at ….
What we charge the bigger bucks for.
Making it a smart investment despite the reticence.
We’d be concentrating on doing the thing we love. The reason we started our business in the first place.
We’d no longer be spending hours on tasks that aren’t “our magic” … or that we aren’t as good at.
So … we’d be happier … we’d be less stressed, less tired, less frustrated.
And our clients? Well, they need our expertise to get the results they’re paying for. So maybe it makes sense to have more hours available for them? Maybe it makes sense to have more hours available for doing “our magic”?
Better for us … better for our clients … less stress … more profit.
Sounds like a win win all round, don’t you think?