Do you coast to the win?

Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes (Creative Commons)

My beloved Alabama Crimson Tide took to the college football field this weekend in the season opener against Michigan and came away with a very big win. Roll Tide!

But the thing that I noticed toward the end of the game, when we were up by something like nearly 30 points, was that Coach Nick Saban did not let up. He was just as focused and intense with his guys as at the start of the game.  He could have let his team just run out the time and coast through the last 5-10 minutes of game time, but that’s not what winners do.

So my question is “do you coast?”

In your business projects, do you start out with intensity and then wind down slowly, having lost interest?

Do you celebrate too early, before you’ve actually finished the project or closed the sale? We’ve all laughed at the players who start their victory dance before the end zone and then get tackled from behind before actually making the touchdown. We’ve seen the race car driver who is in the lead at the finish but runs out of fuel in the final stretch, only to watch everyone zoom past him.

I’m guilty of coasting through the end of a couple of projects. Sometimes I have trouble finishing one because I’m pulled in a different direction and it gets put on a back burner. Yet it still needs to be finished – and I still need to aim for a wildly successful outcome. If it was important enough to start, then I need to finish strong.

One thing that I think will help keep me focused was introduced by Bill Hybels at the Global Leadership Summit last month. He recommends practicing 4×4 initiatives (he suggested 6×6 but I’m scaling it down a bit for manageability).

Pick 4 areas of your work or personal life that you will move forward in the next 4 weeks. Write them down on an index card so you can refer to it often. Communicate it to someone else to make yourself accountable. Schedule time each week to spend on each of these areas. As Hybels describes it, use “energy bursts” to make progress on your initiatives.

By the end of the 4 weeks, you should have completed, or at least moved ahead on each of those areas. So then what?

You guessed it, pick 4 more initiatives for the next 4 weeks.

Imagine what you could accomplish by staying intense and focused on your initiatives in this way throughout the year. It is much easier to stay focused and not coast for blocks of 4 weeks at a time. Your productivity will soar!

How do you finish strong? What would your 4×4 initiatives be?