This week Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence are talking about tackling the small, non-strategic things that can weigh you down and create mental clutter.

If you aren’t able to eliminate these issues, you can’t do your best work and be clear in your thinking.

They detail the rule of 5 D’s – the five habits to help you declutter, and the concept of “lick your toads”, in order to become the most present and productive person you can be.




Please note that this episode was transcribed using an AI application and may not be 100% grammatically correct – but it will still allow you to scan the episode for key content.

Kevin Lawrence  00:13

Welcome to the growth whispers podcast where everything we talk about is building enduring great companies, or at least about building great companies and helping people to build enduring great companies. And, you know, Brad and I are both very passionate about helping companies to do this. We’ve spent a huge chunk of our lives helping companies to scale and grow and build enduring great companies. And when things tend to go the opposite way, and not continue to build and not to be enduring or to become mediocre. It’s we get a little fired up about it. We’re kind of passionate about this. So anyways, welcome to the show. I’m Kevin Lawrence here today with Brad Giles as I am every single week. Brad, how you doing today?

Brad Giles  00:55

Excellent. Very, very good. Thank you. Things are good. Here. We are. Well, I tell you, we’re very lucky over here. We still haven’t gone into lockdown. The rest of Australia has been in lockdown. Well, Sydney has for 12 weeks at this point of recording. It’s Yeah, it’s challenging situation. So we’re very, very blessed where we are.

Kevin Lawrence  01:20

Yep, awesome. Yep, same here. I was down in the US last week. And, you know, it’s interesting seeing, you know, down there, even how serious they are about not locked down, but masks everywhere, being very careful. Obviously, on airplanes there, people are extremely careful. But you know, as this thing, this thing is still kind of nipping at our heels and causing some havoc. Yeah, another guy. I know, I call him a good friend that I saw on Facebook, a picture of him with the old ventilator on and all that other stuff like, you know, so he’s fighting for his life, he’s getting better, he’ll be fine, but it’s some serious stuff still happening in the world. Alright, so Brad, what’s your word of the day today?

Brad Giles  02:08

supply chain issues. So let me very, very quickly explain that many places that you go to now are talking about we missing this, or we haven’t got that we can’t get this in time supply chain issues are just everywhere. And that comes back to people just yeah, I mean, there’s it’s a fascinating dig, when you dig into understand why do we have supply chain issues at the moment. And it really all comes back to the inappropriate implementation of lean. So lean was pioneered by Toyota, the Toyota way with familiar with that kind of stuff. But Toyota are actually one of the few companies that have good supply at the moment because they’ve done their system the right way. But others have simply tried to cut costs. So that’s quite a lot. But yeah, supply chain issues. I did

Kevin Lawrence  03:10

hear Brad, we talked about that before I did hear Toyota actually got hit in the last month themselves. Yeah, that’s something that actually their supply chain finally caught up with them. And they had some issues like some of the other automobile manufacturers have. Yeah, interesting. Yeah, over overdoing the lean thing and lean and being lean on the wrong things. So my, my word of the day is demand. And, you know, having a conversation with some people over the weekend, and you know, and looking at managing the supply demand curve, you know, economics is really based on supply demand and a lot of cases. And right now, there’s incredible demand for people to work and limited supply for lots of companies in lots rolls, particularly in North America. I hear some in other countries, but I hear a lot of it in North America. And, you know, to be able to manage it, we’re having a lot of conversations about you know, how to, you know, deal with this extra demand that the business hubs and limited supply of workers or people who do the work. It’s a, it’s like a double challenge, which is making it really interesting for a lot of people. Very, very interesting for a lot of people so, so supply chain and demand putting more demands on the supply chain, which is actually kind of what’s happening today. So what are we digging into today, Brad? What is our focus?

Brad Giles  04:35

So now with this week, we’re talking about a concept from your book, your oxygen mask first, and the issue is eliminating your emotionally taxing issues or put another way, licking your toads. Kevin, tell us, what does it mean to lick your toads? Yeah, and

Kevin Lawrence  04:56

it’s not what they’re going to do now in your country where you Have some tones that have some psychedelic qualities that it’s a great way to have a little party. That’s not what we’re taught. These aren’t party toadss we’re talking about it’s a, it’s a story in your oxygen mask first, and it relates to things that you don’t want to do. Often, they’re low value, we’ll call them loose ends, lingering tasks, just stuff that mentally you see it, but you just don’t get to it. And I’ll give you an example, I used to work with a guy named art, I used to work in an auto shop as a kid. And art was a mechanic that our good mechanic, and every day at the end of the day art would pull up to the air hose at the shop outside the mechanic shop, and pump up his tire. And one day art I go well, art might Why don’t you just fix the tire, obviously, you’ve got a leak. And you work here in the shop, and you can just bring it in and fix it before work or after work at lunch. He goes. But Kevin, it’s only flat on the bottom. Like, what do you do? Anyways, that was his way of being funny. But um, but the thing is, every day, he would put air in his dorm tire. And it’s, it just burns up mental bandwidth. And maybe he didn’t think about it a lot. Or maybe he did. And so the rule of thumb is there’s things that you’ve thought about doing. And you’ve thought about it at least three or four times, but it’s just doesn’t happen. It’s almost like it’s something that gets procrastinated, and it starts to weigh on you. And before you know it, many people have 100 or 200 of these and it’s like a mountain of weight on your shoulders. And they’re, they’re stupid little things like air in your tire. Or maybe it’s getting to the dentist or, you know fixing a scratch on your car or a squeaky door and I’ve got the door behind me that I need to do some adjustment on a track because if you go too far, it kind of falls off the track, it needs a little pin at the end. So it won’t come off a little things that really in the big picture, these aren’t going to impact you by a million dollars. They don’t have massive strategic value. But they create mental clutter and emotional drain and distraction for you. And we all have them we all do them. But this chapter in the book is then this principle is about staying on top of all that mental clutter and drain so you can stay focused on what matters most. So

Brad Giles  07:29

is it a bit like having a really long to do list?

Kevin Lawrence  07:33

It is but a lot of these things don’t even make it on the to do. It’s a mental To Do List usually in the back of your brain that haunts you every time you see it makes you feel guilty and burdens you and you know it’s interesting. I’ve seen serious executives getting taken down by their own toads. Yeah, it gets them. It just gets them in terms of just it’s a burden. It’s almost like that show hoarders, have you ever seen that? Yeah, it’s an American show where people’s houses just get full of all this stuff, and they can’t live anymore, but they can’t get rid of the stuff. And it’s in a mental or emotional version of the same. You get burdened by these things. And, and it just is also a lot of weight and pressure and slows down your system. And you waste an incredible amount of time thinking about

Brad Giles  08:25

them. Yeah, so in a computer, you’ve got random access memory and read only memory. So that is like the processor, and then the kind of the memory that you access from so the processing power is about the short term ability to deal with multiple things simultaneously. And so what we’re saying is you want to free up your mind or maintain the freedom of your mind is processing power the RAM.

Kevin Lawrence  08:56

Yes, exactly. You want to get the mental clutter out. So there’s more space, it’s almost like, you take a snowglobe and you see it like a tourist place. It’s no global, you shake it up, and there’s all these things floating around. When it settles, there’s this clarity and a clear picture with these things become is like a snowglobe with all the stuff there and it confuses your thinking drains your energy and it’s generally, you know, isn’t good. It’s like trying to do your job with 14 screaming yelling kids behind you. Yeah, except for the they’re quiet, but it has the same poll and we don’t notice the sort of the low level stress that it creates. And it can create a ton of stress, especially for things that have a strong emotional component to them. Where that can really affect you. But the general type can just they can burn you down. So you know we’ve got kind of a checklist in the chapter and some questions I’ll just run through that you know, you can think about if this is important for you, but one, no, just this conversation already is making you nervous or uncomfortable because you’re starting to think of things flashing through your head that you need to do. Second, it’s not unusual for two dues to kick around for a month or more you just can’t keep up with it and by the way, this is not about judging you for not getting it done. Often we need a different approach and a different system to keep ahead of these things. Otherwise, if you had a good system I’d already be done. I’m certainly lingering to dues can cause you a lot of frustration anxiety, maybe panic attacks your heart can skip a beat because they stress you out it’s almost like you avoid them but they become like a monster chasing you and then finally people repeatedly follow up on you and ask you to do stuff that you said you would do but you don’t and your lack of follow through is obvious and because it’s not just the one thing there’s probably 20 or 30 things so basically people end up chasing you

Brad Giles  10:55

Yeah, yeah. And so what is it that we can do about these things?

Kevin Lawrence  11:02

Well first you got to realize the mental toll that it has that yeah the piece so when we do have do we do workshops just on this we get people to make a list of all those lingering loose ends and we give you know 2530 different prompts and we would go through your car something that’s not right on your car or whatever your mode of transport is anything to do with a dentist a doctor you know a chiropractor anything to do with mental medical or physical related things, things that you have borrowed from people and maybe not returned things that maybe others have borrowed from you that you really want back legal things open legal pieces maybe it’s a will or something along will the power of attorney maybe it’s something to do with your family members or parents in some sort of administration one person you know they they hadn’t you know finished and put the headstone on the mother’s burial plot things like that filing of taxes are government related things, things to do with conflicts, right things to do with you know when when a relationship is broken down and going and cleaning it up things around your house could be in your yard or your bathroom or your kitchen it could be to do with your computer and something that doesn’t work right or your phone and you need to get a better phone case or a mount for your vehicle like you can go on and on and on about just the maybe you need to clean out your garage or your attic or whatever it is this it’s all these little you know we have a great busy life and career all these little things so basically people start to brainstorm a list most times people will have 50 100 plus yeah hope these little things so the first thing is to do that second thing is to look at your approach them and then third is ongoing maintenance. And so in the book what we’ve developed in the workshop we did for years and you know this lick the toes because there’s a story you can read about it in the book. But people remember it 20 years ago I had a conversation this week a guy named Mark that I knew from 25 years ago he was one of the first programs we did when I started the firm with a great mentor of mine Moore and Morgan and Mark was he’s actually no such an executive that we work with I was on a call with executives that hey I want you to say hi to someone I’d like to talk to mark and what had happened is the executive we work with is talking about licking the toads and he goes lick the toads How do you know about that and they made the connection that they both knew me it was quite funny and that was literally 25 years ago so so we break it down into kind of five different strategies and all these basically are cleaning up procrastination and you know I wouldn’t go I’ll go through one rotten and go through the others jump in but you know, this is no stuff that I’ve spent a lot of time talking about. But the basic is just to do it is to decide and these are the ones where there’s usually some emotional friction and you just got to get it done. Now it could be making that dentist appointment. It could be you know, talking to your boss or talking to an employee like scheduling, just do that nasty thing we recommend that you do it first thing every morning. Don’t leave it till the end because it’ll burden you all day. It gives you a burst of energy when you get these things done because it takes a lot of weight off your shoulders. So first thing is and this is the basic one it’s not the most powerful one, because these things you don’t like to do anyways. But the basic is do it actually just get it done. Get it first thing in the morning so then you can free up the rest of your day.

Brad Giles  15:00

And then the next one, don’t do it. Say no to the person who requested it. It’s simply not yours to do. So we did an episode maybe three or four weeks ago about the power and importance of saying no. And being able to, to know that no is an option to be aware that no is an option. Sometimes you just don’t need to say yes, and this is building up the you know, it’s building up the burden on your memory, it’s building up the problems.

Kevin Lawrence  15:36

It is and it’s and it’s a hard one, especially if you’ve already said yes. Like I’ve gotten better over the years of not saying yes, in a moment on things and taking time, especially when I know I probably shouldn’t. Yeah, but this is what he BB Robbie already said yes is going back and essentially changing your mind and saying no one’s You know, I’m not going to be able to do this, or I’m not going to be able to do this for a few months, or I really think you should get someone else, whatever it is. Yeah, because you’re they might even forgot that they asked you to do it, but so that get it off your plate. Um, the next one is my favorite. It’s to delegate it. And I was having a conversation with a friend today. And we’re basically we were, I was helping them pull a boat out of the lake. And so that can get winterized and stored. And all the stuff we’re talking about it now I think that was saying is that, you know, I’m fine helping people do that stuff. But I got a guy or a girl to do all of those things. Like I have 50 different people, I can text message and get stuff done. And by nature, pulling a boat in another lake is not like, incredibly hard. But I don’t like doing those kinds of things. So I have found a way to delegate almost every single thing in my world, Unless Unless I really enjoy doing it, for example, on the delegating it. You know another good friend of mine found a place up here in the Okanagan, where we are called Aqua. And it’s a place you could take your boat, and it’s a valet service. You tell them the time you want it, you show up, you jump in, they drop you into the water, little special forklift thing and drop everything, drop it down in the water. And when you come back in, you jump out, they fill it with gas, they clean it, they put the top back on it, they take care of every single thing, including, you know, giving a bag is when you want to go out Yeah, you know and it’s so it’s looking for ways for the things that you don’t want to have to deal with, like maintaining a boat or any of that kind of stuff. Who else would do because basically everything that you don’t want to do somebody else loves to do. But people get caught in it and obviously it costs money. But otherwise it costs time.

Brad Giles  17:54

The hard one here is the trap that so many people fall into being I look it’s just easier if I do it, it’s just easier if I do it, you know, I’ve got to fix up the garden or take the boat out of the water or whatever and it requires training and bandwidth and it’s just easier if I do it.

Kevin Lawrence  18:15

Yeah and and and it is if you only had to do it once in your life. But the flowerbeds need to be done ongoing forever. Boats need to be put in or out of water and maintained and serviced and cleaned forever. Teeth need to be done by the dentist for ever. Everything that you know, unless it brings joy to your world, why would you burden yourself unless it’s critical, or you’re doing it as a connection point with other people or teaching your children a lesson of some sort, some sort of thing for them. So basically, everything in the world can be delegated. The rule of thumb is, if you generally put it off, it’s an indicator you don’t like it, find somebody that does everything, everything, everything and because for me, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t like to do. You just got to find those reliable people that can do it. So it’s basically it’s a decision to find someone that will and you always can find you can always find someone no matter what it happens to be including, you know, cleaning up after your dog or taking your dog for a walk or whatever the heck it happens to me You can always find someone that will do anything. So that is one of the most powerful ones is to make it take your pain and make it someone else’s joy. And that’s the ideal. The other piece of it is is to delete it is and this is stuff that you put on your own to do list like I’m really I’m gonna, you know, repaint my house, or I’m gonna take art lessons or I’m gonna become a yoga Master, whatever it happens to be. Be, it’s just to realize you had a moment of inspiration. And get it out of your mind. And this could be at work, or it could be in business. But just some ideas are just for the moment, they aren’t meant to be and find ways to, it’s to really know, let them go. And I do this regularly because I get a lot of really good ideas. And unfortunately, when you decide you’re going to do something, maybe it go the spy the supplies for the project, or the hobby, or whatever it is, and you don’t do it and guilt kicks in like crazy. So it’s basically just get it out of your system and off your mind and treat it as a little point of inspiration.

Brad Giles  20:41

And, and being okay with that you do not need just because it made its way onto a to do list or even a mental only to do list, you do not need to do it. It’s like, I am not, I’m not going to do that. And if it comes up again, in the future is, this is something that I really want to do. And the situation is different than maybe but saying, just letting it go, can be powerful.

Kevin Lawrence  21:07

What are we getting is and finally is data just decide its own? We do this a lot in our strategic planning sessions. It’s not for this year, let’s put it off to the next let’s consider this in 2022, you want to do a renovation at your host just maybe you’re not going to put it off and say we’re not putting up it’s like, consciously decide No, no more thought process. We’ll think about it again in June of 2022, or whatever, whatever, you know, timeframe it is, but just push it off. Someone wants you to be on a board and you don’t want to do it. Say Not now, but I’ll reconsider it in 2023, whatever it happens to be, don’t let it drag and slide to a future date actually formally push it to a future date.

Brad Giles  21:54

Yeah, because maybe things will change, but maybe they won’t. But that means that it doesn’t consume your your your bandwidth that your mental bandwidth. In the meantime, you can say, talk to me again, then I’ll worry about it. And we’ll have that discussion then rather than now. So what’s the key point here that you’re trying to make

Kevin Lawrence  22:17

is that all of these little things consume a lot more energy than you think it creates a lot more friction in your system, a lot more distraction and stress, getting them out of the way. And it’s very much like that Zen philosophy of keeping your environment clean and clear. Right so that you can focus and your whole system can kind of calm down again versus having you know, 47 screaming children behind you constantly that you don’t even realize that they’re so this

Brad Giles  22:44

so this is mental clutter. Least mental clutter isn’t is preventing you from I guess, enjoying your best life.

Kevin Lawrence  22:54

Exactly. Yep. And being the most present and productive person that you can. Awesome. So that’s it. So that’s licking your toads.

Brad Giles  23:04

Awesome. Do you want to take us through them again, as a quick review,

Kevin Lawrence  23:07

for sure. The first thing is make a master list of them and stay on them. And the best advice is, you know, lick the nastiest one you have first thing every morning like one it is like a total day keeps the doctor away, right. And so, first of all, is to just do it, like we’ve talked about, don’t do it and just say no to the person like go back and say no and delegate it, which is the best one find people that love doing what you love, delete it. If it’s a personal project ain’t even didn’t commit to someone else. Just decide you’re not going to do it and then date it, deal with it in the future. And but not let it drag but consciously push it to a future date. Also, my challenge is to go make your list and just start picking them off one at a time and get them on and as you get going with this, you might find it’s a valuable thing to do with your team as well. People have like toads days, right? Like a Tuesday, toads days where people once a month we’ll just make a list of them and get cleaned up. Kind of like a little bit of a mental spring cleaning. It’s a great thing to do. Again, like most powerful things, not rocket science, but it works. Awesome.

Brad Giles  24:13

Well thank you Kevin. That’s a great insight into one of the key concepts in your book, but evidently, from many many years ago as well, that’s that served you well. Good to know good to know. So if you’d like to learn more about the toads concept you can read Kevin’s book your oxygen mask first. And obviously you can go to Kevin’s website, which is Lawrence and If you’d like to learn more about myself, Brad, you can go to evolution that a you but I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about licking your toads today. And we hope that we can catch up with you next week on the growth whispers Have a great week!