"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"
What Einstein said then is still true today, and no more true is it than in the middle of crunch time. You know the time. When 12 hour days become the norm. When 5pm comes and you look at your colleagues and say, ‘time to start the night shift’. As you get closer to the deadline decision gets more complex, which means every conversation gets harder. Action alone isn’t enough.
As you long for the days to pass, to be one day closer to getting your life back, what you need now is purposeful action. You need to do something different to part those clouds to help you lift and perform better than your best.
When I started running 2 years ago, my mental game was always the hardest to overcome. I remember a clear morning on the Brighton-le-Sands foreshore with my running group where we had set off for a 10km run.
I had run the distance before, so in theory I knew that I could do it. However, with less than 1km to go, even though I could see my finish line, all my mind - and therefore body - wanted to do was shut down. My running coach, Mel, could sense the change and said, ’Count your steps. To 100. Once you get there, start again.' Not only did it work then, but it has worked every single time since then!
What it does is dig me out of the depths of my internal despair and resets my mind so I can finish the race. And that’s what’s important to me, because when I start, I commit to finishing. So I need to have the tools available to help me honour my commitment, which includes knowing how to elevate myself out of those challenging mental moments.
In her book, Grit, Angela Duckworth refers to ‘active construction’ and contrasts it against ‘passive discovery’. During a crunch time, passive discovery would be just ‘doing your job’ and watching the hours pass by. ‘Active construction’ on the other hand, would be to pause, hold a 1 hour meeting with your boss, and agree on a clear path to completion, including escalation channels, for each significant item still to be closed out. This purposeful action will provide you and your team much needed clarity to confidently move through this phase of crunch time.
When I started my long runs, I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t know these moments would occur. It’s the same for work. When you are in the thick of things, unless you have prepared specifically to address these ‘mental moments’ during crunch times, it’s hard to know what will inspire you to ‘lift’.
That’s why action alone isn’t enough. You need purposeful action.
What purposeful actions have you taken to shift gear in the middle of crunch time?
About Alena: Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people. She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on firstname.lastname@example.org