Put The Wind in Your Sails

Michael DiMedio, September 2018

Did you know that you can actually sail faster than the wind?

It’s true!  Team New Zealand crushed it at 47.57 knots in 21.8 knots of wind in the 34th America’s Cup race.  Using elegant design, sophisticated technology, awesome teamwork and relentless execution of the smallest tasks at hand, they achieved this astonishing feat.

So – what does that have to do with your Q4?  Well, with the right approach you can achieve more than you may think is possible. But, to get there, you’ll need to assess these three elements – NOW:

1. Drills, Holes and Purposes

2. Eating an Elephant All at Once

3. The Hero Syndrome

Got your attention? Good.  Let’s dive in.  The fundamental truism here is that the very best results come from the most engaged, motivated teams.  When these teams are set loose to create and achieve, they accomplish extraordinary things. In order to uncover how you can create this dynamic for yourself, we’ll break down each element.

“People don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole,” according to Harvard Business School professor, Theodore Levitt. This adage has been turned into the ever popular sales mandate: “Don’t sell drills, sell holes.”  Taken even further, what’s really important Is not the hole, but what meaning or difference that hole makes to the person undertaking the task.  In other words, true results come from connecting to the underlying purpose of our work.  It’s the difference that we make in the lives of the people we serve that causes them to buy our product or service.  And it’s that very same difference that gives us fulfillment and motivation to do it over and over again.  So, ask yourself – are you focused on the drill, the hole, or the purpose?

How does one eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  We all set big plans at the beginning of the year.  Now that Q4 is upon us, some of those goals may seem unachievable.  But the task of the effective executive is to break down large complex objectives into many smaller achievable tasks.  This is where your systems come into play. Focusing too much on the end result is counterproductive.  What’s more important is that you focus on relentless execution of your systems.  Those small tasks that lead you to great results – just like the America’s Cup racing teams.  Better yet, when your focus is properly placed, you are able to celebrate micro-win after micro-win, building up momentum as you race through the quarter. This is the rocket fuel of success. So, where is your focus?  And what are you celebrating?

Finally, one of the greatest differences between consistently, increasingly successful people and those who only occasionally achieve the results they seek is this: collaboration.  Those that believe they have to go it alone and be the hero are doomed to fail for a variety of reasons from cognitive bias in decision making to the inability to marshal resources and operating in a skewed version of reality.  Success is a team sport and the only way to render your weaknesses meaningless is to surround yourself with talented people possessing a variety of skills, strengths and backgrounds.  The truly successful know that they don’t have to have all of the answers, they simply need to create the culture and processes for arriving at the best possible decisions.  So, are your results the shared results of a dedicated team?  Or are you going it alone?

The very best results, especially those beyond our imagination, can only come from a highly engaged and motivated team.  Put that team together, connect through shared purpose, celebrate your micro-wins and enjoy the wind at your back!