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Busy Tasks

A leader should ensure the ship is always moving forward, instead of scrubbing the decks.

Today, I had a lunch meeting with a business friend, and it was fantastic to geek out, keep each other motivated, share ideas, and realign with our goals.

A few years back, I heard a photographer Sue Brice say something that stuck with me—it emphasised the constant need for business owners to “keep the ship moving forward.” In my mind’s eye, this “ship” took the form of an old-style sailing ship. During our conversation about potential distractions and our tasks, especially when those tasks that have real value, I realised I sometimes find myself working on things that “don’t move the ship forward.” It’s a sensation of busyness without true productivity. What I aim for is tackling tasks that genuinely “move the ship forward,” like hoisting the sails and plotting the navigation, as opposed to peripheral chores like scrubbing the decks, preparing meals, or manning the lookout.

After dissecting this metaphor during our conversation, I’ve realised that the essence can be captured in a motivational poster—a pirate captain, poised on the quarterdeck, bellowing commands with the caption, “Be busy ensuring the ship is moving forward, instead of scrubbing the decks.”

What do you think? Is it a useful metaphor? What are your favourite metaphors? Be the first to comment below.

Be busy ensuring the ship is moving forward, instead of scrubbing the decks.
Be busy ensuring the ship is moving forward, instead of scrubbing the decks.

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