Like you I start this week with some important projects on my plate. To end the week like I hope to, I will need to stay disciplined and draw on some reserves that will help make some intelligent decisions.
But what will happen if I fail? What are the consequences if I have a mediocre week? What is at stake? There are times in business leadership when we are all too aware of the magnitude of a decision or a piece of work. But too often we navigate the complexities of leadership without the intensity that would come if we believed what we were doing really mattered.
Contrast this with the intensity of the tennis that many of us would have watched over the weekend. The hunger and mental toughness from the players in the finals has been palpable. But the enormity of the moment also wreaks havoc … just witness the difference in the way Federer plays Nadal compared with any other player. He is spooked by his nemesis.
Witness the contrast between the discipline of the Proteas in their demolition of the Australia’s cricket dominance, compared with the fluffing around from a team that not too long ago believed they could win a match from anywhere.
Our vocations ask from us the best mental and emotional energies we have. It is therefore crucial that we believe that the decisions we make and the effort we put in actually matter. We don’t have 20,000 people sitting in live judgement, and countless millions scrutinising our every move from their lounges like professional sports people do. But imagine for a minute that we did.
I wonder if I would work differently. I wonder if I would be more careful, act with greater intensity and express more emotion when I ‘won a point.’
My point is not to suggest that the routines of our regular lives match the attention and glamour of professional sport … that would be a stretch. But I am suggesting that there is no reason our working lives shouldn’t be engaged with a belief that what we are doing matters, and that even though our every move is not televised, it would probably do us good to work as if it was.
Like me, mediocrity will probably not be good enough for you this week. Like me, if you do end up delivering an average performance, not too many people will know … or care. Transparency to the point of public scrutiny, even if it is imagined, will at least solicit from me an intensity to give it all I’ve got. And if what I am doing really does matter, the intensity to do well could make a significant difference.
My performance won’t make the front page of the paper, but if it did, what would they be saying about my attitude, actions and the way I overcame adversity? Hmmm.