One of our founding principles at Stone Ward is “Don’t confuse effort with results.” This is not to say that effort is unappreciated. It will be noticed, but if nothing comes from all that effort, the harsh truth is that it just doesn’t count.

It is hard to write a post about this principle without sounding like I am standing on a soapbox. But on the soapbox I now stand.

The least tolerable conversations with my colleagues include phrases like, “I’m just too busy,” “my plate is full,” and “I don’t have time.” When we are working efficiently and smartly, there is time to do things the right way and show results for the efforts we put forth. And it always amazes me how the same people can be found making time for hall gossip, long lunches and online shopping.

We’ve all heard this trick: walk around the office as if in a hurry, carrying a stack of papers, and people will assume you are busy. Rattling off a to-do list and claims of “busy” are also tricks to appear busy.

When we are focused on the best way to achieve the end goal, instead of focusing on the next task, we are more likely to meet our goals and have results to show for our work. Of course the to-do list has to be worked and items have to be crossed off. But the forest needs to remain in focus at all times, even when we are painfully chopping away at one tree at a time.