Innovation

Pass the Sledgehammer

I glanced over at Don MacPherson.  He didn’t look much better than I was feeling.  A few minutes past 8:00 am we were both standing on an asphalt parking surface, barely able to catch our breath.  He handed me a sledgehammer and I heard TJ’s voice:

“10 more seconds…”

I wasn’t sure I was going to get the sledgehammer over my head but somehow I managed and for what seemed like an hour (but was probably closer to a minute) I pounded the sledgehammer into a large tire under the MN sun.   I know it sounds miserable.  It was.  I can’t wait to do it again.

Creating something new is hard work.  This endeavor might be more akin to sustaining something over time, but the idea is the same.

It requires doing things I would rather not be doing to get the outcome I desire.  It does seem counter intuitive.  Probably because it is.

Short term pain.  The barrier that makes it so easy to procrastinate or completely ignore what we know we should be doing today.

I know a few incredibly disciplined people that easily attack the hard, short term effort required to achieve extraordinary results.  I am not necessarily one of those people.  I have to trick myself into doing what must be done or that little voice of doubt might have me entering the procrastination zone or avoiding the hard work all together.

Here are a few tricks for doing the hard work that you absolutely don’t want to do but know must be done:

A Game Plan: You have to “plan your work, and work your plan.”  Plans change.  The ability to adapt to new circumstances is essential.  The notion that plans can change and need to be flexible isn’t a good reason not to plan at all. Begin with the end in mind.

A System of Accountability:  Being accountable to people you care about elevates your own sense of purpose and puts you in the right frame of mind to make meaningful progress toward results.  Going it alone gives you an easy way out.  The team effort provides a little pressure to do your part.  So, enlist some support for your work.  Offer your support in return. Hold people accountable.  Start with you.

Expertise:  Enlisting the ideas and information of the expert makes the work effort more efficient and helps you avoid mistakes. Coaching has been a catalyst for growth in my business and propelled my own professional development.  Expertise can also push you past your comfort zone and accelerate progress.  When I am working with TJ or Jane I work harder.  Coming out of pocket also elevates my personal commitment to showing up prepared to work.  Invest in you.

Execution: We are conditioned to search for the next big idea when so often an adjustment in our approach and personal discipline that will produce the desired outcome. Measure progress.  Manage for consistency.  If you want to accomplish a BIG thing personally or professionally it requires alignment of a lot of little things along the way.  Sometimes success simply comes down to effort and execution around the fundamentals.

Make it Interesting:  Big ideas and breakthrough moments often remain elusive the monotony of the routine.  So mix it up. Inspired experiences can translate into inspired thinking and action.  Also, pay very close attention to the people inside your circle of trust.  The people around us have enormous impact on our being.  How we think, act and experience the world around us.  New people bring forward new ideas, insights and perhaps the best opportunity to share, give, learn and grow.

The cycle to success can be a long, arduous process.  Momentum is required to finish the work.  We’ll likely face periods of feeling stuck, afraid, overwhelmed and quite mediocre. A time perhaps when the hard work might not seem worth it.

Give procrastination an adversary. Put right plan, process and people around you.

Pass the sledgehammer.

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