Sometimes things are going just fine, maybe even great, which is lovely. Showing up each day is relatively easy and the whole place has a positive vibe.
Sometimes, the opposite might be true.
Sales you expected didn’t materialise, exciting new projects got shelved, company share price is falling, valued staff members handing in their notice, EU referendum (I refuse to say Brexit!) fear is slowing everything down… Whatever it might be, it can be tough going.
What can be done in such times?
Look for small victories. Seek out a momentum shift.
Whether it’s for your whole organisation and hundreds of people or just you personally, working at home and feeling somewhat discouraged, one small (or big) victory can make the whole world feel like a brighter universe to inhabit and that can be just the fuel needed to keep going and turn things around.
When you haven’t been running for months, one 10-minute jog at half the pace you used to do…and you’re running again.
When you haven’t done proper home cooking since 2009, one simple pasta dish with a few chopped peppers and mushrooms…it’s no Delia or Jamie…but you made it and you’re cooking again.
In the same way after a barren period, find one new customer – no matter how small the transaction – and you’ve got the small, green shoots of growth and possibility again.
One successfully solved customer complaint. Hurray!
One LinkedIn recommendation from a delighted client – someone appreciates what you do!
Set one clear goal that’s exciting and everyone can get behind & can be reached this week.
Do something, no matter how small, to create a momentum shift. Achieve and celebrate one small victory. Success fuels motivation. Motivation generates more success.
Sometimes these momentum shift moments come our way suddenly, unexpectedly and joyously . Sometimes they don’t. That’s when we have to go out and make them happen.
Saturday afternoon I went out running with my youngest son Jonar, who’s 8. We got a bit lost round the woods – I’m not known for my sense of direction despite a Geography degree! – and ended up going quite a bit longer than I’d planned and than I thought he would be able to manage.
Understandably he was flagging as we headed for home. Quick check on the maps app – 1.4 miles from home. It’s raining. I have a very tired and increasingly unhappy child on my hands whom I have to coax home before he gets too cold.
Something really interesting happened. A short way into that part of our run, Jonar recognised where we were. I had been saying it’s not that far and giving out all the right “You can do it” encouragement, but it wasn’t working too well.
Suddenly it all changed! When he knew where we were, he was on familiar ground, energy flowed in quite a remarkable way. We ran that last mile or so faster than I would have comfortably done it on my own! I was genuinely amazed.
Three lessons here that I think are important in how we lead ourselves and our teams in a way that galvanises that extra energy and effort that can make the difference between winning (or surviving) and not:
- Being on familiar territory: create landmarks, familiar habits, systems and ways of operating that breed confidence even in challenging times.
- Knowing exactly how far there is to go: define the end, or at least a definite staging post on the journey towards the end so people understand there’s an end in sight rather than just plodding on endlessly.
- Make a big deal about getting there: celebrate small victories, take a picture, have a meal. It makes a huge difference.
Have a great week!
I had an interesting and hugely instructive experience on Monday this week whilst on a trip out with my 7 year old son, Jonar. It’s way too good an illustration not to share with you!
Our mission was to get to a small theatre in Clapham Common by 3pm. Our train arrived at Clapham Junction station at 2:32pm. A quick entry into Google Maps showed that the quickest walking route was going to take us 34 minutes, therefore bringing us to our destination 6 minutes late. Oh no!
Undeterred, Jonar set off briskly up the road. “Dad, we HAVE to beat Google!”
The next 23 minutes turned out to be one of the most fun times I’ve had as a dad. 3 minutes in to our [very swift] walk we had gained a minute. Arrival time down to 3:05. Encouragement duly received my boy is now bouncing along the road with me lagging somewhat behind.
“Let’s get to the bus stop and then check again.”
Sure enough, another minute gained. 3:04. “We’re gonna do it Dad. Let’s try and get it down to 2:59!”
By arrival time we had beaten Google by 9 minutes and it was like we’d just won the lottery, the World Cup, an Oscar and Olympic Gold all in one. What a buzz!
I’ve kept the story brief but it illustrates the point well. When you have a crystal clear goal, with a deadline, and you track your progress towards victory (celebrating every small success along the way), the journey becomes exciting and the rate at which you progress towards the goal is way faster.
If someone had said, “Walk quickly from Clapham Junction to the theatre on Clapham Common and see how long it takes”, it would have, without a doubt, taken us significantly longer. As it was we walked, bounced, skipped and ran our way to our destination, eagerly checking for progress updates at every junction or bus stop!
Many of have goals. Many of us have written those goals down. From my experience, many of those goals remain too vague, with a blurred deadline and no tracking method set up.
Why not choose one important goal and go through the rigor of putting all this in place, just for that one goal…and see how you get on!