Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

Three Day Train Wreck

Japanese language has lots of insightful sayings and "mikka bozu" or only lasting as a priest for three days is one of them.  It means we wilt in our determination and fold after just three days of commitment.  On day one, when we start the new year, we are full of resolve, like an aspirant priest.  The daily realty as we move through the year though, saps our ability to deliver on our initial best intentions.
If you feel a mikka bozu departure coming on, over the next weeks and months, here are a couple of ideas on how to deal with that less than satisfactory turn of events.
Don’t beat yourself up  
You may have been setting goals when flushed with the excitement of the moment, but the cold dawn of reality has now sunk in and you realise that maybe you were being a bit too presumptuous.  
No problem.  Re-set and focus anew on outcomes that are achievable and which can help to build some momentum.  With resolutions we tend to be all in or all out.  When we realise we were actually kidding ourselves, we just throw the whole show out the window and now go to nothing, the void, infinite empty space.  
Rather than an all or nought approach, how about a recalibration on what is more realistic and possible.  Can we see the realisation of a few steps, which further down the track, will lead to bigger goals being achieved?  Can we carve off a few bite-sized pieces which we can actually consume?  They are there, so let’s pick these out and attach some realistic milestones around their completion.
Focus on the possible
Some goals are more easily achievable that others.  Start with doing those activities which will lead to wins.  Success breeds success and we are often confidence players.  The more we succeed, the more emboldened we are to try to do more.  Let’s set ourselves up for success, by allowing ourselves to actually win.  This is a good strategy.  Piling up small victories over ourselves, our weaknesses and shortcomings creates positive momentum to help us keep moving forward.  Coming out of our comfort zones is scary stuff, so let’s still do that, but in a way that doesn’t blow us up right at the start.
Don’t be influenced by others
We may have set bigger goals than we could chew, because we were listening to what others were doing.  Some guru was spruking big hairy audacious goals and we were carried along for the ride.  Keep in mind, that some of these gurus make their living from occupying the gap between your goal and your ability. They project themselves as the solution to bridge that gap, so it is in their interests for you to feel inadequate.  There is an earner in there, but it is not for you.
Or we may be influenced by what our family or friends are doing.  We need to keep up with the Joneses and we feel pressure to do more than we should.  Better to concentrate on what we need to do, at the pace and in the way we need to do it.  The hare and the tortoise race is a famous fable about the ability to be self-aware and to play to your strengths.  Slow and steady often wins the race, but the key word here is "steady".  Keep going, however slowly, rather than handing back your priestly robes in a pique after three days and quitting.
What can we do?
I like that quote from the Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi about "blocking and tackling" being the keys to success in football games.  Reflecting on my own 46 years of training in traditional Japanese karate, we always  start our training with the basics.  
The basics are the key to business success, but we often get caught up in the glamour and complexity of the more elaborate solutions.  If you watch enough TEDs talks and guru videos you may start to wonder what is wrong with you?  Why aren’t you achieving at these genius levels.  
Well you can, but only if you start with mastering the basics.  So here is how hard it is: take 10 minutes, sit down, get out your pen, some A4 paper and in the middle of the paper circle the words "The Basics".  Around those words start adding other circled words that describe what the basics of your business are.  Having fleshed them out, now add numbers to the circled words – the priority of importance of each of these selections.
Ten minutes later you have a game plan on where you need to start working and on what.  It is not hard, is likely to be very practical and realistic and directly correlates with your success in your profession.  If you focus on the basics then momentum is invoked, ideas will come and things start to happen.
So, don’t give up like a mikka bozu.  As the philosopher Mike Tyson told us, "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth".  We might have gotten a smack in the mouth by day three or month three of the new year, but we can regroup, recover, recalibrate and reestablish our starting point.  Another favorite quote is by baseball coach Yogi Berra who said, "it ain’t over till it’s over".  
Baby, by day three, week three or month three, it ain’t over, there is still time – a whole lotta time.
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