The best measure of performance is performance. – Lee Thayer
Fitness. A team can have all the necessary elements, but if they don’t have fitness, they will not be able to pull off the strategy. My colleagues get that blank stare when I talk physical fitness. The eyes glance from side to side. “He’s not talking about… being fat, is he?”
If the project calls for a ten hour day, can you work it and then go home with enough energy to be with your family? No way, unless you are in shape. Yes, physical fitness, exercise and nutrition.
And mental fitness.
- Create four alternative solutions to every question, to make sure we include unlikely possibilities.
- Create an argument for the other side when this side seems so obvious.
- Pull the team together for fifteen minutes to make sure we “check-in” before we make a major decision.
- Discipline – use a consistent mental process for problem solving and decision making.
- Discipline – focus on a single task until it is complete.
- Discipline – follow-up on due date projects.
- Discipline – have the difficult conversation when it is easy to avoid the confrontation.
Physical discipline and mental discipline go together, critical for execution. Most companies do a fair job of planning and organizing. But effectiveness is all about execution, physical and mental discipline. I will take a mediocre plan well executed, anytime, over a great plan that is poorly executed. Where does your team stand on the fitness scale?
Physical strength is built by pushing the limit to the maximum, breaking the micro-strands in muscle. The repair of the micro-strands builds the muscle, makes it stronger.
Mental strength is built by pushing the limit to the maximum. The experience of mental pushing is moving from comfort to discomfort. We learn the most when we leave the familiar to discover the unfamiliar, when we shift from the land of certainty to the land of uncertainty.
We still need time to repair. Mental repair is called integration. Mental repair is integrating the new experience from the land of uncertainty with things familiar that we know. Integration builds mental strength.
Pushing to the maximum requires risk and discipline. Sometimes the risk looms too large and discipline too hard. So, all we do is the minimum. And, if all we do is the minimum, pretty soon, our minimum becomes our maximum.
“I understand,” Marietta replied. “I got it. The way you explained it, now I know what to do.”
“You understand, in one part of your brain, but in the heat of the day, another part of your brain will want to do what it has always done,” I observed.
“But, now, I know what to do differently,” she protested.
“And, when you walk into the situation, that other part of your brain will take over and you will fall back on your habits, your grooved behaviors, even if they were not successful.”
“I hope that won’t happen,” Marietta flatly said.
“The only way to act in your new understanding, is to practice, practice and practice, until your new understanding becomes a habit. Only then will you be able to execute in a new way. We think we choose our success, but we don’t. We only choose our habits and our habits will determine our success.”