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Take Your Time and Finish Ahead

Ever notice how easy most professional golfers swing (Tiger Woods excepted) and how much farther their shots go? How about how Kobe Bryant waits for the last shot? He rarely looks in a hurry as the clocks moves from 10 seconds down to 4 before he even STARTS his move.

Contrast that with most of us in business. Businesses value productivity and often equate that word with how fast we can get something done. In the drive for productivity, organizations are leaner and success metrics are often tied to better focus on the task at hand. Sounds good. Lean is the new strategic imperative.

But in the rush to get the sale, complete the project, and/or multi-task (covered in another PRO*Gram), do we fall prey to failing to include the key to any successful team goal: Communication? The drive to be more productive can be sabotaged by trying to do too much too quick.

Let me illustrate. Ever had a conversation with a task focused, results oriented, overworked person? Perhaps this may describe you. Have you ever found yourself so focused on what you were going to say that you didn’t hear a word the other person said? Or have you been in a conversation where you knew the other person wasn’t really listening to your comments? Perhaps this was due to interruptions, the person trying to multi-task while interacting with you, or the person over focusing on “their” message. Regardless, think about the effect the situation had on you or the response it elicited if this was your behavior. Would you describe it as a great experience for both parties?

Professional athletes do what we all should do. 1) They do the work necessary to improve their activity. Practice takes difficult tasks and turns them into skills. Skills, or unconscious competencies, require minimal conscience effort. 2) Because of #1, they are now free to remain in the moment and stay focused on what is happening. Their thinking is related to their objective and their environment. They are outward focused.

A consultant/writer and brother of an inspirational leader wrote some prescriptions for how to improve communication and teamwork. To remain in the moment and improve communication, he suggested you “be quick to listen, slow to anger, and slow to speak.”[1] A friend once reminded me that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Pretty sound advice for the situations described above. Write these prescriptions on a 3 x 5 card, look at them daily, and put them into practice for the next month. See if your activity slows but your accomplishments increase.

The writer was named James, and his inspirational brother was Jesus Christ.

[1] James 1:19

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