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Smarter not Harder

Optimize Blog - October 13, 2015 - 0 comments

You’ve probably heard the story or even experienced yourself, the golfer who steps up to the tee box and hits a terrible hook shot straight out of bounds. Frustrated and perhaps embarrassed, he reaches into his pocket, tees up another ball and again, hits another hook shot left and out of bounds. Now angry and determined, he walks back to his bag, gets another ball, tees it up again, and duplicates his first two shots out of bounds to the left. In a fit of frustration, he slams his club into his bag, mumbles some choice expletives to himself and to anyone nearby who will listen, and heads up the fairway uncertain as to where he’s going to drop a ball to make his next shot.
This is a useful analogy for leaders who are determined to be successful yet continue to fail. Perhaps like the determined manager who has a tight grip on her team but cannot get them to take their game to the next level; so she implements even more controls. Or the sales executive who doggedly follows his past-proven process despite a lack of results. What about the determined leader whose company is not reaching its numbers and meets endlessly with his team to discuss solutions; but he keeps asking the same questions over and over again to the same people and getting the same responses.
We all know people like this and perhaps even work for or alongside them today but what’s missing? You certainly can’t fault their determination, can you? Their persistence, assertiveness, and even aggressiveness are to be admired, right?
Well, yes and no and after all, it’s all about the results.
You must be determined to rise to the challenge when faced with adversity or a problem. However, determination alone doesn’t solve problems. Finding determined people often isn’t a problem nor indeed individuals who are seemingly successful on a number of levels. Yet many are unable to influence performance and have hit a wall in terms of how to optimize the performance of the team. Usually it is because the very thing that got them this far, their determination, is missing a key ingredient – that being the willingness to make intelligent changes along the way.
People who make personal and business-related breakthroughs of any significance are first and foremost determined individuals. However, inside their determination is the ability to learn from their actions and constantly change those actions until they reach their desired goal. Trial and error causes them to rethink and retool their strategies. Their determination is fueled by their willingness to make intelligent changes and adjustments along the way.
Now we hear the “work smarter not harder” mantra in just about every client environment and yet it rarely becomes real as people continue to trust in their old ways hoping that their efforts will somehow produce a different and improved outcome. We see people working longer hours in an effort to improve results but in most cases they are still pressing the same buttons and then surprised that nothing has changed.
Successful business leaders and people in general are forever making changes to their problem-solving approaches until their problems are solved. Then, they move on to a new one.
Like the golfer used in our example; if you’re hooking the ball off the tee, change your grip, your stance, your back swing, something – anything. Don’t do the same thing harder and expect different results. Fuel your determination with intelligent changes along the way.

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