Apparently, someone forgot to tell my Houston Texans that they had a game last week. I couldn’t help wondering what went wrong after they were embarrassed 27-0 at the hands of the New England Patriots.
Maybe a better question is what went right? The game was full of dropped balls, missed tackles, stumbling players, and ineffective play calling. Nothing they tried seemed to work.
Before their next game, it will be the job of the coaching staff to evaluate the team’s performance and figure out what needs to be adjusted. This is our job as leaders, too.
I love playing games. I’m especially fond of games that require strategic thinking and planning as I try to outsmart my opponents. For me, one example of this type of game is poker.
I love the challenge of trying to read people and situations to make the best decision possible. My mind races with excitement during those key moments when I have to decide how much I am willing to risk to try to win the game. There is a large pile of chips on the table and it is now my turn. I have numerous questions clouding my judgment. What cards are they holding? What will be dealt next? Are they bluffing or do they actually have a strong hand?
In that moment, I find myself having to make a decision without all of the relevant information. This is true of most decisions we face in life. We are attempting to decide which action to take in the moment to create a desired future, but we don’t know everything we would like to about that future.
Last week, I discussed three important lessons I have learned from running that can be applied to any long-term challenge. Check it out here if you missed it.
Today, in part two of the article, we will cover four more lessons that can help you be successful as you pursue your goals.
Six years ago I signed up to run my first half marathon. At the time, my goals were to raise money for charity and to try something I had never done before. I didn’t really enjoy running. In fact, I don’t think I had ever run more than a mile continuously, but I was motivated by the challenge involved.
After several months of training, I completed my first race, and I was hooked. Several years and three half marathons later, I have experienced many of the ups and downs that endurance racing has to offer. Through these experiences, I have come to understand that much of the challenge of endurance sports is mental rather than physical.
It is challenging and exhausting to put in the time and energy required to build up the physical endurance to complete a long race. Your mind can be your worst enemy as you plod your way through a long workout, always focusing your attention on the wrong things, distracting you from the steps you need to take to achieve your goal. You constantly have to fight to stay focused, motivated, and moving in the right direction.
It is not all that different from working towards any challenging, long-term goal in life.
A few years ago I had the chance to go on a whitewater rafting trip with some friends. Before we were ever allowed in the water, our guide spent a significant amount of time with us discussing safety rules and rafting techniques. He explained what we were to do, when to do it, and why it was important. We practiced responding to commands and ducking into the boat.
He wanted to make sure that when we were in the middle of a large rapid, we would all be on the same page, and respond appropriately.
Organizations face similar challenges every day. How do you ensure that everyone on your team is headed in the same direction? How do you make sure they are prepared to work as a team and respond appropriately when the heat is on.