My earlier blog on persistence talked about how to press into your life strategy despite the negative voices telling you that you are not enough – not good enough, smart enough, credentialed enough, etc. Now that you have plowed through those false belief systems (coincidentally, B.S. for short), it’s time to talk about going the distance.

This picture of my daughter with our dog Riley on our kayak (which we lovingly refer to as Dory) bears a likeness to my Memorial Day experience this week kayaking with Riley at Skaguay Reservoir. If you’ve never paddled a kayak with a dog on your lap, let me explain a few things.

First, the wind kept a steady current pushing us away from the dam, which seemed just fine until I realized how far away I’d drifted while reading a novel. Now it’s time to paddle like in Hawaii 5-0 (anyone remember that one?) toward the dam…against the wind. Time to put the book down, sit up and grip the paddle as if for life.

Second, it’s amazing I didn’t give my dog a concussion as I kept hitting him in the head with said paddle. Eventually he took the cue to lay down and I paddled much faster. That’s when it came time to focus.

I set my gaze on a certain spot on the dam to keep focused. As I established a rhythm with my strokes, I thought about the goals I have at work. Sometimes I envy my husband, whose job is to sell insurance. You can buy this policy or this policy. Check. Next. My work is much more …slippery.

You can work really hard to create an extraordinary experience that helps managers detox the habits that keep teams helplessly straining against the current of corporate life. Even if they learn some skills that get them further than ever before, the passage of time renders those paddling muscles flaccid and weak… and I’m taking about the ones who try. Others just throw away the paddle and drift until someone has to tow them to shore.

How do we get our teams to remain focused on the goal? What’s a goal worth the effort?

The key to staying focused on the goal is to keep mentally focused on what is waiting for you when you get there. For me, a sandwich and some delicious habanero chips (nevermind that in this case I’d forgotten to pack this delicious lunch in the car). For my team, the prize on the shore is a healthy organization where people value each other’s strengths and shore up each other’s weaknesses. Where the finished product of each day is just as much about the process as the prize because we did it as a team — created something bigger than any of us could alone.

Tell us what keep you rowing when the current is rough? What, like my dog’s head, gets in the way when your team is trying to make progress? How do you remind yourself of what awaits you on shore? How do you keep motivated?

 

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