Marathon or Sprint?

I’ve often reminded leaders attempting to make big foundational changes that the efforts are generally more like a marathon race, rather than a sprint.  The hard lessons of learning these lessons along the way should stick with us.  With the necessary passion and a logical plan to make deep changes/improvements, we often “predict” that the changed actions and improved results will come much more quickly than they do.

Interesting reference here from Max Bazerman (Harvard) about what he refers to as irrational optimism.  The research indicates that people are less prone to irrational optimism when they predict the fate of others work, rather than their own.  In his case, he observed that people estimate that when it comes to home construction projects, most people estimate that their friends projects will run 25% to 50% late and over budget.  But those same people estimate their own projects will be completed on time and near the projected costs.

“The world needs dreamers and their dreams.  Without them, there would be no new and wonderful inventions and no inspired new ideas to spread far and wide.”  “But dreams of what is possible are best balanced with hard facts and realistic projections about what is probable.”  (Robert Sutton: Scaling Excellence)

Leading with passion shouldn’t be absent of the realization that real, sustainable, and adaptive change efforts take time.  Leading with passion and knowing the right things to do will still require time to accomplish.  Never hesitate to begin and certainly don’t make bullsh*t excuses when stalled in the process.  Along with the passion and the knowledge of the right things to do, think also of a well-conceived and realistic time frame for attaining what success looks like.  Predict with the mindset of an experienced veteran that is applying, as the research indicates, that this is your friends construction project and not your own.


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