The best strategy ‘hack’ so far …

The best strategy ‘hack’ so far …

At this time of year I am naturally starting to think about what comes next.

Oddly, this also involves bicycles and icecream.

For me it is time to lock critical dates in my diary, checking in with clients to see what they are looking for in the coming year and generally planning ahead.

It's tricky to find time for this as my plate is already full.

This year, unusually so as one of my team is in hospital so I have picked up two extra programs so we don't let a client down.

All this occurs while I am determined to continue adding more value to both my clients and my business while not burning the midnight oil.

I'm old enough to know that burning too much of it is counter productive.

So, what to do?

#1 – The usual – keep myself organised, focusing on the most important things first. Declutter, prioritise, optimise: This, however, doesn't always cut the list of ‘to dos' nearly far enough.

#2 – The still usual – focus on ‘the now' so I don't suffer from overwhelm by thinking about that growing to-do list

#3 – The new thing – rather than forcing myself to stop thinking about the list, actively think about the exciting plans I have for the business and let that list take care of itself.

It's a bit like when learning to ride a bike: as soon as we start focusing on the tree we don't want to hit we head straight for it. Instead, focus on the path that we do want to ride on.

Strangely enough this has been the most powerful hack of all.

By focusing more on the next big thing (which in itself is something I find motivating) I am finding that what I call the ‘ice cream theory' of time management works a treat.

Have you noticed that children ALWAYS have room for ice cream?

Strangely, I'm getting the old things and the new things done during moderately sensible hours.

Even better. I'm sleeping like a top, which means I have lots of energy to do both the things I have to do and the things I want to do.

What is the next big thing that will have a big impact on what you need to achieve for 2022?

Kind regards,



PS – In no way do I mean to belittle the ‘hacks' from last year. They have been hugely useful. They have laid the groundwork for me to be able to prioritise and focus on the good stuff. I hope they help as you plan for 2022 also.

It's time to plan for 2022 …

Over the last year I have continued working toward using my time better and becoming more impactful generally.

Next week I'll share my ‘big aha' with you that has helped fix the one problem that optimising my time spent did NOT fix.

Here's the back story to start you thinking ….


Hack 1 – Diagnose and Declutter

Clarity First alum Steve shares ideas on how he transitioned from being an engineer to becoming a strategic leader who takes nights and weekends off as well as going sailing most Wednesday afternoons. Click here to learn from Steve and grab hold of a template that will help you start your own journey toward becoming maximising your impact while minimising your effort.

Hack 2 – Prioritise

We all know we need to prioritise …. but HOW do we do that so we know which tasks we should eliminate, delegate, automate or do? In this post I turn to a favourite of mine: Michael Hyatt to capture some practical ideas from his excellent Free to Focus book. Click here to learn more.

Hack 3 – Optimise

This time I point you to my first substantive conversation with Richard Medcalf of Xquadrant who specialises in helping successful people magnify their impact. He offers a number of terrific ideas including how to:

  • Harness your curiosity to increase your influence
  • Lead strategically when there is already too much to do
  • Use a concept called prisons and fortresses to make sure you get to the things that really matter
  • And plenty more too. Click here to learn more.

Hack 4 – Bonus ideas

I found this process so useful that I wanted to share some final ideas stemming from my own experience in learning from Steve, Michael and Richard. Go beyond the theory to get some more ideas here.


Davina has helped smart people all over the world clarify and communicate complex ideas for 20+ years.

She began this work when she joined McKinsey & Company as a communication specialist in Hong Kong where she helped others use the Minto Pyramid Principle.

She continued helping others when living in New York, Tokyo and now back in Australia where she was approved by Barbara Minto herself to teach Pyramid.

Her clients include experts across many disciplines across Australia, Asia Pacific, New Zealand, the UK and the US. She currently coaches a number of C-suite executives as well as many mid-level folk and the occasional graduate.

Get her 4 Tips for Communicating Complex Ideas here.

How do we know when we are fooling ourselves?

How do we know when we are fooling ourselves?

It might shock you to know that our brains are quirky and more like Homer Simpson's than we realise.

In Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow, Daniel Kahneman describes how we lie to ourselves just like Homer does.

He suggests that we make up stories in our minds and then against all evidence, defend them tooth and nail.

Understanding why we do this is the key to discovering truth and making wiser decisions.

In this piece I lay out the overview of his argument and illustrate through a business example.

 His argument leans heavily on an evolutionary bug in our brains that critical thinking strategies can resolve

He suggests there’s a bug in the evolutionary code that makes up our brains.  Apparently, we have a hard time distinguishing between when cause and effect is clear, such as checking for traffic before crossing a busy street, and when it’s not, as in the case of many business decisions.

We don’t like not knowing. We also love a story.

Just like with Homer did in this short clip, our minds create plausible stories to fill in the gaps in other people's stories to construct our own cause and effect relationships.

The trick is to have some critical thinking strategies to help us evaluate other people's stories and our own. To help us avoid telling stories that are convincing and wrong.

We need to think about how these stories are created, whether they’re right, or how they persist. A useful ‘tell' is when we find ourselves uncomfortable and unable to articulate our reasoning.

 A real life example brings his argument to life in an uncomfortably familiar way

Imagine a meeting where we are discussing how a project should continue, not unlike any meeting you have this week to figure out what happened and what decisions your organization needs to make next.

You start the meeting by saying “The transformation project has again made little progress against its KPIs this month. Here’s what we’re going to do in response.”

But one person in the meeting, John, another project manager, asks you to explain the situation.

You volunteer what you know.
“After again failing to deliver on their KPIs, we recommend replacing the project leader with someone from outside the organisation who has a proven track record with transformation programs. The delays are no longer sustainable.”
And you quickly launch into the best way to find a replacement team leader.

Mary, however, tells herself a different story, because just last week her friend, the project leader, described the difficulty her team was having with two influential leaders who were actively against the transformation program.
The story she tells herself is that the project leader probably needs extra support from the CEO and potentially also the Board.

So, she asks you, “What makes you think a new project leader would be more successful?”

The answer is obvious to you.
You feel your heart rate start to rise.
Frustration sets in.

You tell yourself that Mary is an idiot. This is so obvious. The project is falling further behind. Again. The leader is not getting traction. And we need to put in place something to get the transformation moving now. You think to yourself that she’s slowing the group down and we need to act now.

What else is happening?

It’s likely you looked at the evidence again and couldn’t really explain how you drew your conclusion.

Rather than have an honest conversation about the story you told yourself and the story Mary is telling herself, the meeting gets tense and goes nowhere.

Neither of you has a complete picture or a logically constructed case. You are both running on intuition.

The next time you catch someone asking you about your story and you can’t explain it in a falsifiable way, pause, hit reset and test the rigour of your story.

What you really care about is finding the truth, even if that means the story you told yourself is wrong.

Why am I sharing this story with you?

In Clarity First we teach people 10 specific questions to ask when evaluating our communication that helps us to see whether our ideas ‘stack up'.

These are incredibly powerful and help you ‘step back' from your own ideas to evaluate them critically.

Take a look at the Clarity First Program to learn more.

We help you communicate so your complex ideas get the traction they deserve.



Keywords: #critical thinking #decision making #kahneman