The quality of your work and the speed of your execution will only improve when you focus on actually doing what you’re doing so don’t waste valuable resources on over-managing your strategy – just get it done.
I’ve been a competitive rower for over twenty five years so I’m familiar with a lot of motivational and high performance business lessons generated by the sport. This past Saturday while rowing on the Shannon River in Limerick I had a business insight of my own: to successfully implement business strategy, pay less attention to your direction and progress and more on the quality of your execution.
You should understand that rowers face backwards as they speed across the water. Larger boats have the benefit of a coxswain to steer and coach the rowers and consequently we get a lot of great business lessons from this dynamic. But in smaller boats like singles and doubles the athlete has to set and adjust their course while facing away from the front of the boat.
Last Saturday I took a double out on the water with a friend from the club. It was my first time in a small boat on the large and relatively busy Shannon River. I was unfamiliar with having to steer the course and nervous of running into other traffic on the water. Consequently I was twisting my head around frequently at the finish of the stroke to check our direction and safety.
All this attention to our direction was causing our balance and timing to suffer which greatly reduced our boat-speed. My boat-mate eventually said “stop looking around – I’ll worry about the course” and I forced myself to focus on the rowing, not our direction.
As our speed and finesse improved dramatically, I realised that this was a lesson that some of the businesses I encounter need to hear: Set your direction once, clearly and solidly, and then focus on the business at hand.