The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

The day I learned about The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals

As a physical therapist I recently attended the “Foundations Course” at the “Home Office” of Encompass Home Health in Dallas Texas. April Anthony, the CEO, spoke to the class one of the days and she inspired us with how she rose to the top in the Home Health industry by applying concepts taught in The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, By Sean Covey and Chris McChesney. Little did I know was that by applying only one of the 4 disciplines my life would drastically change for the better.

What are Wildly Important Goals (WIGS)?

According to the book, “Discipline 1: Focus on the wildly important requires you to go against your basic wiring as a leader and focus on less so that your team can achieve more. When you implement Discipline 1 you start by selecting one (or, at the most two) extremely important goals, instead of trying to improve everything all at once. We call this a Wildly Important Goal (WIG) to make it clear to the team that this is the goal that matters the most.”

Stress and Overwhelm. Burnout was near.

As professional staff members (nurses and therapists), at Encompass Home Health, when we go into the field to treat home bound patients we keep records and progress notes, etc. on electronic tablets. It is very easy to get into a habit of only completing the basics, while in their home, and finishing the report later. As the workload continued to increase I found myself staying up late and waking up very early to finish the notes. This became stressful and overwhelming. I found myself eating, drinking and living my job. I had little or no time for anything else. I was rapidly approaching burnout.

A “Reason” to change was essential.

While at the Foundations Course I learned about a program that greatly interested me. They call it the Certified Preceptor Program. Preceptors help train new employees. I have always enjoyed teaching, training and encouraging to the point of authoring and publishing a training book through McGraw Hill Publishers years ago. So, the Preceptor Program really attracted my interest. Encompass placed certain qualifications on entry into the program. Most of the qualifications related to the metrics that were automatically calculated on our portable devices. Applicants had to achieve several minimum percentages on things like:

  1. percent of visits completed the same day
  2. percent documentation completed in home
  3. in home time (in minutes)
  4. and other metrics

I thought to myself, “What if I could select a WIG to bring my metrics in line?” I believe in order to get things accomplished we need a “Reason.” Well, qualifying for the Preceptor program was a good reason for me. So, as I looked over the numerous qualifications I found it a bit overwhelming. After pondering the qualifications I decided to focus on only ONE of the metrics – Completing Documentation in the Home. I knew if I could reach that single WIG all the other metrics would fall into place and I would not even have to think about them.

My “Reason to change” was to become a Certified Preceptor. Your reason might be the same or it might be to be homework-free.

My first Wildly Important Goal was Like breaking the 4 min Mile.

The Preceptor program’s requirement was to complete at least 80% of the documentation in the home. I took it a step further and decided to make my WIG to complete 100% of the documentation in the home. In doing that I would more than qualify for the Preceptor program plus a side benefit would be that I would have absolutely NO HOMEWORK to do late nights and early mornings. When I first considered this I imagined it must have been how runners felt about breaking the 4-minute mile.

A Screen Shot of a portion of my productivity Stats


A Second Wildly Important Goal was needed to Empower me to achieve the first.

In order to finish all the documentation in the home I would have to think faster and more clearly. I would need more energy and be able to organize my thoughts. So, I set a second WIG which was to OPTIMIZE MY HEALTH so I would have the energy and clarity to reach this seemingly insurmountable goal. I drank plenty of good water and took my favorite supplement to keep me sharp. This second Wildly Important Goal was MORE IMPORTANT than the first because without the results of this goal I would not been able to achieve the first. This second WIG actually EMPOWERED me to have the energy and stamina to achieve the first.

The Results: I got my life back.

Since the last week of January until the writing of this blog post, 3-17-17, I have completed 100% of my visits in the home. I have lost 20 pounds and have more than enough energy to get it done. As a result of reaching the Wildly Important Goal of completing documentation in the home I have NO HOMEWORK or documentation to do in my home. I have free time to do things I was never able to do: spend more time with family, do things around the house and many other things I never had time for. I feel like I just got my life back.

A Mindset: A strong belief of “This is what I do.”

I found that finishing the documentation in the home had to be more than a nice idea but a mindset. In other words, instead of just trying to get it done, as an option, it had to be something deeper. It had to be a belief and a part of my self-image. So, when I enter a home I realize I will complete the documentation before I leave because this is what I do. Part of this process is educating the patient as I enter the visit. I say things like this: “It is important for me to finish the note while I am here with you today. This is because my memory is better while I am here. So, by doing it here it will be more accurate. By getting it done now, the doctor and the other team members will have access to your information quicker. This will result in us providing a better way to care.”

My Hope is that they learn to set Wildly Important Goals.

Many runners aspired to break the 4 minute mile barrier. It seemed unreachable. Then, in 1954, Roger Bannister did it. Since that time many other runners have also done it. When we see someone accomplish something it creates belief within us that it is possible. “If they can do it so can I.” My hope as I become a Certified Preceptor, in June, is that I can inspire new employees to set Wildly Important Goals that will position them where they can work and still have a life outside of work. They will know it is possible because it has been done. I have broken this “4 minute mile” in my life.

UPDATE: It has been about a month since I wrote the original blog post. Initially I was focused on doing the impossible- maxing out the metrics. Now, I don’t think about that any more. I just know that I am enjoying not having to do any homework- finishing the documentation in the home after work. I made the decision in late January 2017.

Update: 7-22-17: Still at 100%
Update: 10-2-17: Still at 100%. Recently the workload has become almost insurmountable. This resulted in the longer days and more fatigue at the end of the day. If I had not learned the “mindset” of completing all my documentation in the home I would have been a basket case. I encourage clinicians to make it your goal to complete all documentation in the home. It is a worthy goal yet be patient with yourself and work toward it at a reasonable pace. It is possible. If I can do it- you can do it.

I no longer care about the “metrics.” And, there is nothing special about me. I am just driven by an intense desire to complete the documentation in the home because I NEVER want to go back to doing Homework during all my off-time hours. I got my life back and I want to keep it that way.

Author: Tom LeBlanc, PT Certified Preceptor Tom LeBlanc, PT has enjoyed helping, encouraging and empowering individuals to Optimal Health and Function for over 40 years. As a physical therapist he has worked in Acute Hospitals, Rehab Centers, Outpatient Clinics, Geriatrics, in his Private Practice, and in the Home Health Environment where he is currently working at Encompass Home Health and Hospice.

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