Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hitting the halfway mark: how're you doing?

Welcome to July, which may start your fiscal year...or it might mark the halfway point. Let's go back to those New Year's goals: doing as well as you'd planned? Exceeding your goals? Still feeling the fallout of the economic woes of your clients?

Halfway is a good point to really measure how you're doing. If you're a procrastinator, halfway is when you start to pick up the pace to catch up. If you're an overachiever, halfway is where you take a breath. And if you're a well-organized planner, halfway should be where you pat yourself on the back for being right on target.

I've always hated running. In junior high, we had to run a mile or two for gym class one day, and as usual, there I was in the bottom three finishers. I always felt like such a loser, but I just didn't feel like I had the strength to keep up with everyone else. I didn't let myself walk the whole thing (I wasn't going to be last, mind you), I just kept up my baby-step pace in my lane, kept my face down so I didn't see just how far behind I was, and kept going.

My teacher pulled me aside (it wasn't hard, everyone else was already in the showers), and encouraged me to go out for the Cross Country team. Was she nuts?!? Did she not just see me fail the exercise? I looked at her like she had three heads.

She laughed at my reaction. "You're a distance runner," she said, "You stayed steady the whole time, and finished solid."

It took me a long time to realize how important what she said to me was. Unfortunately, I didn't get it before I got out of junior high (therefore, never proved my worth on the Cross Country team).

You see, I was a classic overachiever. "Book learning", as we call it in the country, came very easy to me. (As an aside, I'll be exploring the "why" behind this in a later post when I do a little review of the book "Outliers") So easy, in fact, that anything that wasn't as easy, I disregarded.

I was a mental "sprinter". I wanted to get there, and get there fast. Win and be done. The hare, taking a nap on the side of the trail, while the tortoise soldiered on.

In my business life, I expected to continue being the sprinter. I did have some quick successes, but ultimately, I had to learn (at times, the hard way), that it's all about being the distance runner. Stay steady, know where your competition is in their lane, but ultimately, keep your nose down and just move forward. If you stop, you're out. If you waste all of your energy up still have the same distance to go, and you're going to be beat when you get there.

(And for the record, I LOVE running now.)

So I'm halfway through 2009, and I'm not winded yet. How're you doing?

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