Objective, Focus, and Flow

Blog - TennisThe other day, I came across this great quote posted by Shawn Upchurch:  “If you focus on results, you will never change.  If you focus on change, you will get results.” – Jack Dixon.

This got me thinking about our obsession with results.  Then it got me thinking about sports.  In particular, it got me thinking about those times when you’re playing sports and you find that you can’t lose, when everything just seems to flow.  But then there are those other times.  You know the ones, where your game starts going downhill.  Then you get frustrated and resolve to just focus and do better, but all that seems to happen is you get worse and worse.

This is the danger in being too focused on the result or the objective.  In sports, when we are in love with the game, practice comes as pleasure and we seem to do well by seamlessly integrating all the different requirements being demanded of our brains and bodies.  When we do poorly though, when we get frustrated, practice becomes a chore.  Then we start to over-analyze every little body movement.   What came naturally before is broken down into component pieces and we can’t seem to connect them to achieve success.

The same happens in business.  When we are working at jobs we love towards a purpose we believe in, everything seems to come naturally and the results take care of themselves.  However, when things aren’t going well, we become obsessed with the result and it’s all we talk about.  We break down every procedure and action to determine areas for improvement, but, suddenly, we lose sight of the whole.  Performance continues to decline and we respond by introducing tighter and tighter controls.

What we really need to do is realign around our purpose.  We need to find our love of the game again and help our teams find it as well.  Instead of focusing on the number of calls or the length of interactions or the number of units produced in X amount of time, we remind our teams that the real goal is providing great customer service or releasing a great product.  Once we do that, we and our teams will take the actions necessary to deliver.  We’ll re-achieve our flow.

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