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The essential survival skill for leaders buckling under information overload.

Pity your poor mail carriers. Their shoulders must burn under the mailbag strap as they haul each day's load. On a recent day, chosen at random, my mail drop included:

  • a brochure promising (for only $1,495) an "intensive, hands-on workshop" from which you "go back to your office with a complete solution-oriented plan."
  • a four-page flyer (see the metallic inks shine!) about a Web site that will give me "innovation, perspective, and impact."
  • a packet of six book reviews, which left me feeling guilty about all the great books I should be reading but probably won't.

I dropped the mail and booted up my laptop—and found 17 e-mails in my inbox.

To live in our Information Age is hard; to lead is even harder. How can you keep up? Learn what's important? Filter out what's not? Grow as a person? Get things done?

I've asked those questions often. And I've noticed a subtle but key difference between leaders who get things done and leaders who don't. We're all awash in information; some leaders swim ...

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