This Montessori Fundamental Didn’t Work for My Kid but It’s a Gem for Business

Make each action effective by setting the stage for what’s next

They had us at, “and then the children clean up their work and put it back correctly for the next person to use.” We toured our local public Montessori school when our son was three and we liked what we heard.

A fundamental of Montessori education is a child assuming responsibility for the totality of a task or lesson: Prepare your workspace properly. Do the job/learn the thing. Clean everything up and put it back where it came from with all the pieces for the next student. It reminded me of girl scouts, which adds an important twist to a similar message: Leave the meeting, your room, the trail better than you found it.

As for my kiddo, whatever was learned in school didn’t translate into a meta-approach that worked at home. Boohoo. But he’s a child. I hope the wisdom of the mindset will one day seep into him and spark.

I say that because I know how powerful this idea — teased out and attended to — is for building a sustainable enterprise and business momentum.

It’s this: Make every action you take in your workday effective. And here are ways to think about and apply it.

Slow down Take the time to make every action effective by giving it the level of attention, detail, and care it requires. Slow down to listen fully to customer requirements and customer grievances. Slow down to get the wording and formatting, quality and vibe of marketing and content just right.

String together right effective actions Build momentum and a sustainable business by completing one right effective action after another. Kick multitasking to the curb and do one high-priority item on your list after another. Identify the right actions for you and your enterprise, then do each one completely before moving on to the next one.

Plan ahead An effective action requires proper forethought — a combination of strategic thinking and focused intention.

  • Why are you doing this thing?

  • What’s the best way to do it?

  • What is your intention in doing it?

Maintain your focus on the what, the how, and why as you’re doing the task. If you’re creating a piece for a client, consider the above questions in advance to keep yourself on track and ensure the maximum effectiveness in your execution of the work.

Decide the desired outcome Close on the heals of proper forethought (and an element of it) is building an orientation towards your desired outcome into your action. Knowing in advance that you want a phone call to be about sharing information or closing a sale or mending a relationship can take you far, with ease, in making a task effective.

Put quality over quantity This concept has no problem with quantity, but it does not put a quantity approach — busy work, multitasking, checking boxes for the sake of it, email blasts to the universe— over quality. Quality for “make each action effective” refers to making each action effective in its totality. Performing the task with excellence and optimizing that attention as possible. For example, when creating an accounting system for your business, it means taking the time to implement it right, from the beginning and as completely as possible, with the information and experience your currently have. And it means having a plan in place for future contingencies, i.e., what you will do when you discover needed tweaks and improvements for your system.

Set the stage This one’s the clincher for effective action. It’s the act of building into every task some measure of future success and opportunity. Setting the stage for some other good thing.

  • It’s asking the prospective customer that’s not buying now if you can contact them in 30 days to see if their situation has changed — and if they say yes, immediately scheduling that future call in your calendar.

  • When a client praises your work after completing the job, it’s sending them a handwritten thank you note in the mail and asking if you can use their words as a testimonial on your website.

  • It’s receiving that testimonial and putting it up on your website immediately. Then thanking the client again and tweeting out the endorsement.

  • It’s discovering a flaw in your collections process and making time to find a better way to systematize it. And once you find that way, it’s creating a plan to test its effectiveness and that it’s working as you expected.

Quick review of the totality of an effective action

  • Consider the value and holistic quality of: Make every action of your workday effective.

  • Slow down and remain present as you complete tasks with the attention each one deserves.

  • String together the right effective actions and you will have one successful day after another, building momentum and a sustainable business.

  • Undertake each action with strategic forethought and focused intention to make it effective.

  • Orient your action to the desired outcome.

  • Favor quality over quantity.

  • The pinnacle of making each action effective is using every action to set the stage for future success and opportunity.