Stressing over results is ruining your life. Do this instead.
A Flawed Model for Success and Happiness
“Once I make my quota, hit my number, close that sale, get that promotion, help that customer, have more money, solve that problem, THEN I’ll be really happy, satisfied and will finally feel successful!”
Here’s a teaspoon of reality for you. For how long?
Imagine, for a moment, it’s the end of the quarter. You hit your sales quota. Congratulations! High-five! Let’s celebrate!
And then what happens? The counter resets back to zero. It’s time to begin another quarter and do it all over again!
This is a flawed model of thinking, since you’re allowing external situations and outcomes to dictate your internal condition, happiness, confidence and peace of mind.
The solution? Shift your thinking from focusing on what’s next to what’s NOW.
Besides, what’s the real secret of life? Enjoying the passage of time. Hafez, a Persian poet, said it best, “I am happy before I have a reason.”
Be realistic here. Your goals aren’t going anywhere! They’re set. So, why do you feel the need to continually obsess over the results, let it dominate every conversation and annoy your direct reports about their goals?
Because there is some limiting and toxic belief people harbor deep inside that tells us, “Focus on the results and the results will happen faster.” Yeah, right.
Why obsess over the results when it’s going to be what you do in the moment and how you do it that will ultimately produce your desired outcome!
Take the Result-Driven Challenge
Would it make you feel better if we validated this right now? Let’s test out this theory that plagues managers all over the world. Okay, here’s what you’ll need to do. Think about your goals, commitments, business objectives or sales targets. Can you envision them? Are they clear in your mind? Okay.
Now, for the next thirty seconds, that’s all I want you to think about. Imagine all of your goals in your mind’s eye and focus on nothing else. Ready? Go!
(Thirty seconds later.)
So, what happened? Did the result manifest any faster? Are you now any closer to achieving your goals?
I don’t think so. My point is, focusing on the result contributes nothing towards achieving that very result you seek. Paradoxically, focusing on the result becomes the very detriment to achieving your goals, since you are no longer focused on the process, the how, the quality of output and ultimately – your people.
Of course, it is absolutely essential to plan for your future, set goals and have a clear vision for yourself, your team and for your organization. However, this needs to be balanced with being in the moment and choosing to live; and act with purpose.
Engagement Starts at Home
If you are a leader, it doesn’t stop or start at work or at home. It’s who you are. That’s probably why I’m so overly conscientious about what I’m modeling for my children every day.
As the proud father of three honor roll students, the topic of homework, what they learn at school and its relevance to the “real world” has a tendency to surface every once in a while.
“Dad, explain to me how this homework is even relevant to what I’ll be doing in the future when I get a job or start my own business? I mean, when will I ever need to use this in the real world?”
My response is simply this. “If it’s part of your curriculum and what you need to do and learn to get the grades you want and make you a more well-rounded, educated person, then it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter how seemingly insignificant it is or how many times you’ve done that task. Regardless of what it is, if you are going to put forth your personal effort, then focus 100% of your energy and effort on what you’re doing in that moment because what you’re doing in the moment is the most important thing at that time.
Whether it’s a task, project, hobby, sport, practice, homework or even a conversation, put your head into it and more important, put your heart into it. Whatever it is you are doing at that moment, do it the very best you can because what you do is a reflection of you and who you are.”
Refocus Now! Everything Counts
The habits and choices you made yesterday are what created the life and career you have today. So, here’s the real opportunity.
The habits and choices you make today will create the life and career you will have tomorrow.
Think about the things that consume your day. Emails, phone calls, travel, customer meetings, reports, presentations, training, coaching, working with customers, business development, internal meetings, up-selling, handling challenges and problems, admin work, project management, team meetings, cross-selling, forecast reviews, deal reviews, performance reviews, getting to decision makers, weekly reporting, asking for referrals, your own professional development; I can go on and on.
Here’s the point. Are we embracing the same philosophy we tell your children? What about the message you deliver to your team? Are you modeling this yourself?
“If you are going to put forth your personal effort, then focus 100% of your energy and effort on what you’re doing in that moment. Put your head into it and more important, put your heart into it. Whatever it is you’re doing at that moment, do it the very best you can because what you do is a reflection of you and who you are.”
Miracles Happen When You Pay Attention
It’s so easy to go through the motions without the e-motion. To treat exceptional results as just another day at the office. To ignore the seemingly insignificant miracles that happen amongst your team and with your customers. The remarkable things you do and what your people do every day. How they have changed, improved or grown. Do you even recognize when these things occur? And if you do, are you acknowledging them?
There is a greater cost incurred when having both eyes focused on the result. If you continually focus on and live in the future, at some point, you are going to turn around and realize your life has passed you by. Life is what happens in the now, in the present moment.
And if this isn’t enough to ignite the fire of change, then ask yourself, “What am I modeling for the people around me, at work, at home, for my children?”
Ultimately, whatever you’re doing in the moment, regardless of what it is; it is the most important thing you are doing at that time.
Aside from the result, let the activity and how engaged you are in the activity be the reward so that you can authentically enjoy the process and not just the fleeting win.
As a leader, if you can model this, think about the message you are sending to the rest of your team and the impact it will have on each person as well as on the culture you want to create. Imagine an overall deeper, more authentic level of engagement with your team, your customers and ultimately, the impact on your performance and the value you deliver.
Respect the dualities of life; two conflicting truths that co-exist simultaneously. That is, be mindful of the future, while being engaged in the moment.
Simply put, be where you stand.
Photo Credit: Greg Wagoner