A Secret to Improved Coaching Effectiveness…Stay With It!
Today’s business environment focuses on immediate results and gratification. Many organizations, managers, and employees seek the fastest and easiest path to increased performance. Society marvels at athletes, civic leaders, or artists who achieve greatness because we understand the amount of focus, dedication and persistence required to get them where they are today. All the “greats” stayed the course. Yet, instead of emulating these behaviors, we choose to drift from tactic to tactic while feeling good about our intent.
Is the desire for quick results destroying our motivation to stay the course? Do we exaggerate the risks of following a plan in our minds, causing uncertainty and doubt which lead to failure? Perhaps we don’t understand what is necessary in order to stay with a plan until it generates measurable success. In most cases, it is a combination of these factors. To address this, let’s look at the variables which, when integrated into a plan, ensure “staying with it” generates measurable results.
Choose a Challenging Target
Assumed within “stay with it” is understanding what “it” is. To define “it” you must first choose a challenging goal and incremental measures of progress. Most of us understand dieting requires picking a goal weight and determining acceptable measures of weekly progress. We inherently understand losing weight requires time and strict discipline. A dieter must stick with a plan and remain focused on the weekly measure of progress and target weight in order to achieve his or her goal. The same practice applies to business. To realize significant improvement a company, manager, or individual must remain motivated while focusing on hitting a plan’s target by determining a challenging goal, a plan to reach the goal, and milestones within the plan.
Create a Viable Plan
If a challenging target or goal is the beginning, building a viable plan to turn the goal into reality is the next step. Most people fail while trying to create quality-focused plans — plans that have a high probability of success if fully executed. You must not create plans in haste, focus on the wrong thing, and/or include tactics which will not result in a measurable difference. Poor plans cause people to lose confidence. Without confidence, they abandon the plan. Staying the course requires people to believe a plan will generate success if they choose to put in the necessary time and energy. Make sure you correctly pick one or two main activities which need to change in order for measurable progress to occur. Challenge yourself to define the doable, practical, and appropriate high-impact activities given the situation, available resources, and focus.
Significant change is typically neither quick nor easy. For a plan to work, you must maintain “laser-like” focus on the target and ignore the impulse to give up, change the plan, or second-guess its potential impact. This takes will power, determination, and courage. Real change requires staying with a plan through discomfort, inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and/or trial and error. We automatically execute the necessary emotional muscle anytime we strongly desire a change or wish to achieve a goal. You must find a way to tap into this same energy and emotion when faced with outside pressures which may create fear, uncertainty, or doubt in the current plan. A fundamental tactic to help remain committed to staying the course is to remember the reason you decided to pursue the target, the payoff for hitting the target, and the consequences of not staying the course.
Simply working a plan does not always generate the results or degree of change desired. Measurable change only occurs when you mix the above elements (choosing a target, creating the plan, and committing to it) with enthusiasm and a desire to achieve the target. Everyone can recall situations where people simply “went through the motions.” The outcome is rarely successful, if ever. Only when a person gives it his or her best with a true intent to succeed can a plan make significant progress. Passion, engagement, or energy is the “X factor.” We see it every day when individuals, teams, and companies win when the deck is stacked against them. Today’s managers and executives must understand the importance of this element. We can no longer believe we accomplished a task only by having a target, a detailed plan, and a fierce will to make our people stay the course. We must discover ways to inspire, encourage, and motivate people individually, be it through their personal motivators, style, generational tendencies, or background. Display as much enthusiasm about them as you need them to have for the target. Never underestimate the power of expressing confidence and belief in a person’s ability to hit a target.
Execution excellence requires a plan to address all four factors of “Stay with It Until You Get It.” Of these factors, committing and exuding enthusiasm will ultimately determine the degree of any change. Think about it. How frequently do we have targets and plans? How frequently do we demonstrate our commitment to a plan and exude enthusiasm for staying the course? Remember: talk is cheap, intent is useless, and execution is everything.