Are you Chasing Antelopes or Field Mice?

Are you Chasing Antelopes or Field Mice?
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

How are you prioritizing your day to be the most productive you can be?

Former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich framed that question around a brilliant illustration.  He said:

“A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So a lion that spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death. A lion can’t live on field mice. A lion needs antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. So ask yourself at the end of the day, ‘Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?’”  -Newt Gingrich

Every day, God’s given us "lions" a lot to get done--we have to go get our calories.  Now our calories could be our family, our business, projects you are managing, relationships or habits we are pursuing. Calories we are making progress in the things God’s put on our plates.

But it is easy to spend time and energy chasing good things--the field mice, but not the great things that would most help me achieve my goals.  To have a busy day, but not always a productive one.

For example, I worked with a client who was a Human Resources Representative at her company.  She told me that every night she was bringing home work she hadn’t finished and after feeding her kids, went back to her desk.  In unpacking this, she explained that it was hard to get her key projects done because people always wanted to stop by her office with questions, or sometimes just to chat.  Now as the HR rep, she had to be accessible to people.  But these interruptions were not the antelope she needed to focus on--they were field mice.

Her solution was simple:  Shut the door.  She figured out her antelope projects, set closed door time each day to get this done first, then posted open door office hours in the afternoons for all the field mice.

See, once she had caught that antelope in the morning, the rest of her day she had more space for the mice.

How do I identify the antelope?

Ask:  "What is the one project, task, or conversation that would make the biggest difference today in what I am trying to accomplish?"  Bonus Tip:  Often it is the one you have been putting off.

I often use this question by Gary Keller, in his book The One Thing:

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”--Gary Keller

Chasing antelope or field mice will both cost you time.  Both will use up your energy.  Both make you look busy.  But only one will give you the calories you need to thrive and be your most productive self.

What is the antelope you need to chase today? I'd love to talk with you more about that. Shoot me an email and let's start getting you chasing the right priority today.

Photo by Michael Meyer on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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