It Happens When No One Is Watching
On July 5, 2015, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team achieved a laudable performance and will be celebrated, and enjoying their victory with parades, parties, interviews, and other appearances, for some time to come. But I bet you that their true joy comes when they get back to playing on the field; when, they return to their practice of the game and working with their colleagues. What they accomplished when millions were watching during the World Cup was made possible by their extraordinary work and commitment when no one was watching. Despite the difficulty, it is these daily challenges that make winning particularly sweet. When you can live and perform in a way that doesn’t compromise integrity, quality, and well being, being a breakthrough performer and living a breakthrough life can be really addictive!
Have you ever created a ‘big, hairy, audacious goal’ of your own? What was it like working toward it and getting to the ‘finish line’, whether that is a race or a big meeting? It is a sometimes daunting, but ultimately inspiring, undertaking. I coach executives to take on the goal of becoming a triathlete, to transform their athleticism, but also their leadership. It is often a ‘breakthrough’, because it is outside their current reality and they literally have to transform their thinking and take actions (like swimming in open water, putting it all together, asking for support) that they never imagined possible. Often they have to face failure over and over to get to their goal.
At a corporate level, breakthrough projects offer the opportunity for a team to achieve an extraordinary goal that is inspiring (not unlike completing a triathlon or winning a title game) and takes them to an unpredictable way of performing that surprises, and delights, the individuals and the company.
Daily Steps for Your Breakthrough Project
Executing a breakthrough project is not about being a “one-hit wonder” or achieving a result at all costs. If you want to build a breakthrough environment in your work and personal commitments, it helps to take these steps over and over:
- Continuously engage inspiration – create a vision.
- Create structures to support the outcomes that you want.
- Execute and take action that forwards your goals and take out action that does not forward your goals.
- Keep restoring your commitment, by communicating your intentions, as well as the breakdowns you are facing to someone.
The day after I race or accomplish my breakthroughs, I make sure to celebrate somehow. I treat myself. But the day after that, I get back to my practices for creating a breakthrough life, creating new games for myself to continuously improve, playing and practicing my ‘sport’. It always feels good to get back to that kind of life.
Ashley Tappan co-founded and leads Fit to Lead, a program that helps businesswomen take on fitness, even doing triathlons, as a fulcrum for leadership development.