The Language of Ruthless Priorities

What do I mean by “Ruthless Priorities”?

If you have been following my work, for sure you have heard me use the phrase “Ruthless Priorities”.

I have always known that this expression could be problematic from a language standpoint and that it would not always translate well into other languages.

Priorities “without Ruth”

Every once in a while a non-native English speaker will ask me, “What does this mean, Patty, Priorities without Ruth?”

I recently had a fun experience where I got this exact question from an Italian person, so I got to have a shot at explaining this in Italian.

A brief aside…

One of the frustrating and wonderful things about learning a second language is that you need to find different ways to say things.

Because in your native language, you have access to ALL the words, in the sense that you can just pull thoughts together using ALL of the words that you know in your native language.

But in your learned language, you simply don’t have access to as many words!

So you need to think about the crux of what it is you are trying to say, and then pull from a much smaller pool of words and phrases that you DO know to convey your thought.

Better in any language

What I have come to realize is that this limitation of my second language often makes me a more efficient communicator also in English. It has helped me to be less lazy and more clear with the words I choose, no matter which languge I am speaking.

So after I sent the note explaining Ruthless Priorities to my Italian friend, I pasted the Italian I wrote into a translator back to English…

And when I read the result, I thought, “Hmmm. That is the most clear and succinct description of Ruthless Priorities that I have ever given!”

Ruthless Priorities, Italian Style

So I wanted to share that with you. Here it is…

You can consider “ruthless” to mean “merciless or without pity”

In the context of priorities … when I say “without pity” I mean …

Choose priorities in a very, very serious way.

Choose only a very few things … 1 or 2 things that will have the biggest impact on success.

Protect your ability to work on these priorities with the “merciless” attitude of saying “no” or “later” towards things that could put your Ruthless Priorities at risk.

Back to english…

In other words, if you call it a Ruthless Priority, you DO it. There is no grey area.

You de-risk it, and you finish it. If you didn’t do it, it wasn’t a Ruthless Priority. It was just something important that you didn’t get to.

I I wrote an article on that here — on making sure you are being ruthless enough to get the most important stuff done.

Get more help on Ruthless Priorities

Also, I wanted to let you know that in the Executive Mentoring Group, my online professional development program, our topic this month is the one and only: Ruthless Priorities.

As part of this program, there is an Executive Playbook available on Ruthless Priorities.

An Executive Playbook is an on-demand webinar, plus tools and worksheets, and an action planning guide.

You’ll find this Playbook in your Member Library

You can purchase this individual Executive Playbook

Or you can become a member, and get this and the whole Reference Library of Executive Playbooks on key topics of Business Leadership and Career Advancement.

There is also a free trial if you’d like to explore.

Get the right stuff done

I hope that you have some clarity in your mind about what is most important to really get done in your work and your life. And if I can help you get more Ruthless about truly getting it done, I would be honored.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page Patty Azzarello Practical Business Advice for Humans.

About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or facebook

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her books RISE and MOVE.

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