Making S*#^ Up or Getting S*#^ Done

Once on a big consulting engagement, I was at dinner with one of my colleagues. We were chatting about how the project was going. It was complex and fluid, scope was squishy at best, and the client was under severe regulatory pressure, so emotions were frayed and pressure was high.

My friend, the “expert”, said “Well Doug, I guess we can either make s*#^ up or get s*#^ done” (I am trying to keep this rated G).

MSU or GSD – what a battle cry! So what does this mean? Well, for starters, when there is an absence of direction, focus, scope, or purpose, it is tempting to be able to fill in the gaps. Thus the temptation to make ‘stuff’ up (MSU).

Ah, but truth is, in business you usually cannot really make things up. You have to deal with facts, circumstances and reality. If you can grasp those elements, you can focus on getting ‘stuff’ done (GSD).

MSU is like wearing a mask
MSU is like wearing a mask

Young, first time managers may be easily tempted to MSU versus GSD. The big boss may be demanding some answers that you are not ready to give, so you MSU. Yikes! Perhaps it’s not even a lie, but still it only serves to divert attention while you work on the truth.

On the other hand, always being able to get stuff done makes you the expert, the go-to person, and the builder of great value.

Unless your business is story telling or writing, making things up is not perceived to be valuable. Rather, it can be downright troubling once discovered. Credibility will be shot.

Getting things done is a far more meaningful achievement in business of any kind.

Here are some ways to avoid MSU:

1. See the gap, know the gap. Gaps happen; gaps in understanding, information, and circumstance. Do not be tempted to simply fill the gap (thus MSU). Instead, seek to gain the proper resolution to fill the gap. Go get something else done (GSD) to uncover the missing pieces so the gap is filled with applicable material. Then solid decisions can be made.

2. Know with whom you are dealing. Are the other people around you prone to MSU? You should never fall victim to that approach. Seek out reasonable understanding. Don’t settle for someone else’s results if you think they are MSU.

3. Have measurable expectations. Remember the absence of quantifiable information can contribute to MSU. Work toward tangible goals and objectives upon which all parties have agreed.

4. Prepare your plan. Working through an effective planning effort can eliminate most uncertainty. Of course things may change, but usually not too far off course. A central plan eliminates most of the need for MSU.

5. Be a ‘Do-er’ –  If your natural instinct is to get things done, then you will GSD. If you struggle with GSD, work on it. Make it a habit. Get some coaching. Follow the examples of other leaders around you who are known for their ability to GSD.

The simple difference between MSU and GSD can be monumental. The next time you feel tempted to simply make something up, take a pause, reflect, and choose to get something done!

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Do you make S*#^% Up or get S*#^% Done[/shareable]



Why Do I feel the Burnout?

Business leaders must learn to recognize their own burnout and be able to administer self-healing for it. Nothing can derail your sense of balance for work, life, and faith worse than a case of extreme burnout. It is interesting that some of the most popular and most frequently shared articles I have written have to do with being burned out or losing your enthusiasm.

Is it possible that those feelings are some of the most prevalent mindsets? If so, why? What is it about our work life that causes this sense of frustration and discouragement?


There is no doubt that the loss of enthusiasm can significantly impact work-life balance. According to PshychologyToday:

“Burnout is not a simple result of long hours. The cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you’re not in control of how you carry out your job, when you’re working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, and when you lack social support. If you don’t tailor your responsibilities to match your true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, you could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems.”

The Symptoms

First, let’s remind ourselves about the classic symptoms of burnout.

  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Physical symptoms like chest pain, dizziness, etc.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger

That list is pretty scary. While anyone can suffer a temporary bout with any of those symptoms, prolonged experience with them is trouble. It can be a sure sign you are in a burn out zone.

“If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, this should be a wake-up call that you may be on a dangerous path. Take some time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your life and find ways to reduce it before it’s too late. Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your life. And as hard as that may seem, it’s the smartest thing to do because making a few little changes now will keep you in the race with a lot of gas to get you across the finish line.”

The Remedies

Sherry Bourg Carter, Psy.D. suggests these remedies:

  • Take an inventory. Make a list of all the situations that cause you to feel stressed, anxious, worried, frustrated, and helpless. Don’t rush through it. It’s not a race; it’s a process. In fact, you should consider it a work in process, adding to it as things enter your mind.
  • Next to each item on the inventory, write down at least one way to modify that situation to reduce its stress, and then begin implementing them into your routine. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t see immediate changes or feel immediate results. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s unrealistic to expect it to go away overnight. Consistent implementation of positive changes into your routine is the best way to see improvement.
  • Just say “no.” While you’re “recovering,” avoid taking on any new commitments or responsibilities. I know you have to live in the real world and there will be some things that you just can’t get out of doing. But high octane women have a bad habit of saying “yes” when they can say “no.” Resist that urge.
  • Delegate as many things as possible, even if the person you’re delegating to may not do them as quickly or as well as you would.
  • Take breaks between big projects. Burnout puts your mind and body in a weakened state, so avoid jumping from one stressful, time-consuming project to the next in order to give your mind and body a chance to recover.
  • Control your devices. Gadgets, such as iPads, computers, and smart phones, can consume large amounts of your time and energy. Turn them off as much as possible. (See Connection Overload and 12 Steps to Recovery for more information on how technology can hi-jack your life.)
  • Socialize outside your professional group. This can provide fresh perspectives, stimulate new ideas, and help you discover previously undiscovered resources.


  • Resist the urge to take work home. Yes, I realize you have a job to do and at some point the work has to get done. But if you’re like most high octane people, you like to be a superstar, racing around, showing how fast you can get to the finish line. When you’re recovering from burnout, you can’t be on the Indy 500 racetrack. You have to slow down a notch until you can safely get back up to that speed.
  • Reinforce effort, not outcome. Not even the best players hit home runs every time they get up to bat. Remember to reinforce yourself for trying rather than only for the end result.
  • Consider a support group. Although a support group may be a therapeutic group, it doesn’t have to be. It can be a professional organization that provides support or mentoring, or a group of casual friends getting together to vent and share ideas. Whichever you choose, a support group serves two purposes: 1) sharing feelings often reduces stress, and 2) getting together with others reduces isolation, a common consequence of burnout.

Finally, a word of general advice–rediscover your passion. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing you are working and living in the center of the thing(s) that are about your biggest passion. Find it again, go there, and be restored!

I’m OK, You’re OK: An Argument for Change

So how do you know if you need to make some changes in your life? There are so many information channels feeding us with self-help tips, tricks, life hacks, and so forth.  Do you buy into that? Do you have a long list of social media follows, people with whom you have never met, but their messages resonate?

43832980_s On the other hand, you may just carry on, doing what you have been doing, oblivious to impact on those around you. It is easy to rationalize a comfort zone and keep operating in it. Routines become habits and change seems like a problem.

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