When I’m on stage at the theater with a bunch of improvisers, we make a promise to the audience:  We are going to create an entertaining story.  And we give it a deadline: It’ll be complete 5 minutes from now. And we deliver.

4 months ago, I knew I wanted to build a workshop/lab experience blending improv, productivity, and neuroscience. I had about 10% of what I wanted to say during the experience articulated at the time. But I gave it a deadline. On January 14, 2015—the deadline date—I delivered a 2 hour workshop to 15 people I had invited to test it out. 

Several years ago, ice dams resulted in some roof leaks and subsequent damage to our living room ceiling. I’ve got the tools and the know-how to fix it, so I put it on my list of to-dos. But I never gave it a deadline. Years later, you can still see the rusty extra-large-pizza-sized water stain.

If you’re serious about a project, it needs a deadline and audience.

The deadline gives you focus.  The audience gives you accountability.

The absence of either gives you rusty water stains.

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© Andy Zimney and Leading Off the Cuff, 2015.

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Andy Zimney is an organizational leader, coach, improviser, speaker, and facilitator. Andy is founder and principal at Leading Off the Cuff: Where exploration meets execution.