It’s The 4th Quarter – Time For Your Big Push

Still Time In 2017 For Your Big PushVacations are over, the kids are back in school, and Fall officially started today. So dust off your 2017 Dreamboard and review your progress to date. It’s time to start your big push.

Goal Power

We set our goals so we continue to push, even when we’d rather cozy up on the couch and watch football. We’re three-quarters of the way through the year, but now comes the most important part.

Take a look at what you hoped to accomplish when you were singing Auld Lang Syne and swilling champagne last December 31st. Sure, you were full of optimistic hubris and threw down some lofty goals.

And yes, you’ve probably had some setbacks this year, and maybe you’ve forgotten the bravado that caused you to declare all those wonderful milestones for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ve probably met some of your goals, but you’re also probably lagging far behind on some others.

But none of that matters if you get it together for your big push.

What Matters and What Doesn’t

As we learned from those damned Patriots in the last Superbowl, the score at the beginning of your 4th quarter doesn’t much matter. Only the score at the end counts.

The Pats trailed the Falcons by 25 during the 3rd quarter and were behind  28-9 when the 4th quarter started. But none of that mattered in the end. The Patriots scored 25 unanswered points and won the game 34-28 in overtime.

Damn those Patriots! They didn’t give up or give in, though they had 25 good reasons to quit. They just put their collective heads down and ground out the greatest comeback in Superbowl history.

Focus On What’s Left To Accomplish

Like the Superbowl champs, you need to focus on what’s left to do. No sense beating yourself up over what you haven’t done or how far behind you may feel. Nothing’s been decided yet.

So get out your Dreamboard and your calendar. It’s time to schedule some hustle. What’s left to do? What’s it going to take to get there? If you break your remaining goals down to the task level, what exactly do you still need to do?

Make a list of activities you need to complete to reach your goals. Then start placing them on your calendar. This is the key. If it can be scheduled, it can be done. And if you have each task down to the date and time you will work on it, you are halfway there.

Don’t let your demons psyche you out. Like those Falcon fans at the Superbowl, they’ll say you’re too far behind and the game is over. They’ll encourage you to give up and lose gracefully, to take life easy and start your Christmas shopping early. But they are full of beer and don’t know what they’re talking about. They think you can’t put your head down and grind it out. They think you’re weak.

Trust me on this. You’re not weak, and there is still plenty of time on the clock.

Your Big Push

You’ve got 8 solid weeks between now and Thanksgiving week. Then 3 more weeks before the holidays heat up in December. That’s 77 days to make it happen. Plenty of time to mount your big push and come up big by year’s end.

Pretend you’re the Patriots (damn them!) and you don’t care what the score is now. Pretend you are making the greatest comeback ever. Do that now, and in a few weeks, you’ll have enough points on the board to start believing it’s gonna happen. Then put your head down and push all the way until December 31st. It will be worth it.

Stop Being Your Own Worst Critic

Worst CriticI gave my very first keynote last month and big thanks to all of you who came and cheered me on. I got it all on video, and though you’d think I’d be anxious to view the tape, it took me a month to get myself to watch it. Why? Because I am my own worst critic.

Though I’ve logged over 20,000 hours of speaking and performing, this time felt different. This was my own material, performed for the first time, so I had a lot at stake. I was prepared, the audience was receptive, and overall it went pretty well. I even got a dozen folks to give testimonials on camera at the end of the night.

But still, I procrastinated a solid month before I could force myself to watch the performance. Because I knew, inevitably, there would be moments that would cause me to cringe.

The Disease of Perfectionism

Everyone does this to some extent, but we Manic Impressives tend to outdo most folks when it comes to perfectionism. We know we’re capable of great things, so seeing ourselves being less than perfect is hard to take.

Reasonable people don’t expect perfection the first time out. And we creatives know that performing in front of an audience is an iterative process. We get better each time out by learning from mistakes and striving for better. But it’s still tough to view our mistakes, no matter how much good stuff there is in between.

We become our own worst critic.

I’ve seen perfectionism destroy people. Like my friend Josh, a brilliant guitarist and singer. He would obsess over the tiniest flaws in his performances, and drive himself nuts. He couldn’t live up to his own impossibly high standards. In the end, he quit performing altogether. It was a shame.

Your Own Worst Critic

Many of us are overly harsh when critiquing our performances. Have you ever done this to yourself?  You overlook the good things you do and dwell on the negative. The missed lines, the mispronunciations, the flubs, the glitches, and the miscues.

It’s natural to want to do better. But many of us are too critical of ourselves. We need to be as gentle with ourselves as we are with our friends. Or our kids.

Otherwise, getting back out on stage becomes too difficult. And even if we don’t realize it, we can subconsciously avoid opportunities to shine. Or worse, when we are performing, we focus so much on past mistakes, that we drive ourselves to commit the same mistakes when we try again.

Olympic Failure

Like speed skater Dan Jansen in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Dan was the world champion and gold medal favorite when he lined up for the 500-meter race. But to the shock of everyone, he fell in the first turn and did not place.

Four days later in the 1000 meter race, Dan was leading the pack in world record time. But with just one lap to go, he fell in the exact same place on the ice where he’d fallen in the 500-meter race.

I remember seeing this as it happened  – it was heartbreaking. Dan had psyched himself out. He obsessed over his earlier mistake to the point where he couldn’t avoid making that same mistake again. He was his own worst critic and it cost him dearly.

Getting Over Yourself

So to balance your need to be critical with your need to feel good about yourself, I suggest you take the following approach.

Know that no matter what you do, some of your audience won’t like it. You’ll remind them of their 8th grade bully or their condescending mother in law. You can’t do anything about their bias, so don’t worry about them.

A percentage of your audience will love you no matter what you do. You’ll remind them of themselves or who they want to become, and they’ll rave about your performance just because you’re you. You can’t count on their objectivity, so take their adulation with a grain of salt.

Focus on the rest. The ones who are impartial enough to be honest. Value their feedback, and look for ways to improve in the areas they point out.

If you can’t get enough feedback from them, hire a coach. Someone honest enough to be direct and give specific feedback to help you improve. And knowledgeable enough to validate what you do well and encourage you to continue.

If you outsource this, you won’t have to be your own worst critic.

Practicing What I Preach

So in the spirit of killing my perfectionism, here is a link to the video of the maiden voyage of “Do You Know Who You’re Dealing With?”  Consider it a rough draft, and enjoy the flubs and glitches.

I welcome your honest feedback, so don’t hold back. And don’t worry about hurting my feelings. I did that to myself already…

How To Know When Being Resilient is Bad For You

Being Resilient is Bad For YouWe hear it all the time. Successful people are resilient. They take what life throws at them in stride, and keep getting up whenever they get knocked down. This is usually a very good thing. But sometimes it’s not. Being too resilient can be bad for you.

You’ve probably seen this in action before. A friend faces their challenges with grim determination. They soldier on in the face of long odds because they don’t want to give up and quit. We admire this quality in our friend.

But have you ever noticed that your friend seems to be in this situation an awful lot? Could it be that your friend is too resilient, and accustomed to slogging away at something they shouldn’t be?

How To Know When Being Resilient Is Bad For You

If you’re constantly picking yourself back up, you may need to ask yourself why you’re getting knocked down so much. Are you taking on things you shouldn’t?  Are you challenging the status quo at every turn? Are you swimming upstream when there’s an easier way?

Sometimes we become so determined to carry our load to the finish line, that we don’t stop long enough to consider the load. Just ’cause you have a bag of rocks over your shoulder, doesn’t mean you should be hauling them around wherever you go.

The Dip

Seth Godin wrote about this 10 years ago in his book The Dip. He used Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Winners never quit and quitters never win” as a starting point to examine when it makes sense to give up on something. He even challenged the great Lombardi’s philosophy by stating this – “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

Whoa. You mean I can quit and still win?

According to Seth, The Dip is a point in your venture where your results are not matching your effort. Most of us are trained to be resilient at this point and keep on marching. Seth says you should stop and reassess. If you focus harder and apply more resources, will your results improve? Or are you venturing further into a Dead End?

A Dead End is a project that will not pay off, no matter how much effort and resources you put into it. Perhaps the market has shifted or become saturated. Maybe your competition has too much of an advantage for you to succeed. Or maybe you’re not the best at it.

At this point you’re better off quitting, shifting your energy to something more promising, and just walking away.

Ouch.

Nobody wants to face this kind of painful truth. It takes so much gumption and hope to launch something that we can’t help but tell ourselves that “failure is not an option.” But it is.

And sometimes it’s the best, most practical option.

So How Do You Know?

Yes, that’s the trick, isn’t it? Like Kenny Rogers said all those years ago, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Great advice, and not just for gamblers. Great advice for Manic Impressives.

We are famous for dreaming up lots of schemes and ventures. And famous for starting things we never finish. After awhile it can wear on you, not finishing what you start. You can start believing there’s some fatal flaw in you that’s keeping you from the finish line.

But it’s part of our nature to be great at the ideation and not the execution. Ideation is our strength. Execution, not so much.

Pushing through the Dip can lead you to great success. But if you’re facing a Dead End, the sooner you turn around the better. So here are a few good questions to ask yourself when you’re facing a Dip.

  • Is my lack of results caused by my lack of effort?
  • If so, can I give more to it? (And why the hell haven’t I?)
  • If not, is this really in my wheelhouse and worth more effort?
  • Do I really need to succeed at this, or could I be just as happy succeeding at something else?
  • Am I persisting just because I’m too afraid to admit defeat?

A ‘no’ on the first four could indicate a Dead End. A ‘yes’ on the last one is all the permission you need to fold ’em and walk away. Or run.

There’s No Shame In Quitting

At least there shouldn’t be. If you’ve taken your hacks, it’s okay to accept your strikeout gracefully and walk back to the dugout. Life is a lot like baseball. You may not score today, and as long as you don’t beat yourself up too much about it, it’s okay. Because tomorrow there will be another opportunity to swing for the fences…