Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my ax.” This quote helps to set the stage for three strategies that I feel are critical in order to achieve and deliver results: Preparation, effort, focus. We achieve our results when we are prepared, put forth the effort and focus on our vision. Allow me to explain…
Preparation Is A Best Practice
In my opinion, J.J. Watt is a great example of someone who achieved great results by being prepared. If you are not familiar with J.J. Watt he is an NFL defensive end for the Houston Texans. He has a reputation for being a bit of a maniac regarding his game-day preparations; and he has produced results because of it. He received the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award three times in his first five seasons. In 2014, he became the first player in NFL history to record two 20+ sack seasons in a career.
Watt once said, “Someone has to be the best, it might as well be me.” But in order to be the best, he knew he had to prepare. This is why he is the first one in the weight room and the last one left studying film clips of previous games to improve his techniques and learn the competition’s weaknesses. Before training days, Watt would go to bed by 7:30 PM to ensure he got plenty of sleep. And this level of preparedness happened on or off season!
You may not train, eat and sleep like J.J. Watt, not many people do! But how do you prepare to be the best in your profession? We could all probably stand to take a page out of his regimen and prepare with a bit more urgency and purpose.
Effort And Persistence Yield The Best Results
There are many examples to demonstrate how effort produces great results, but one of my favorites has to do with wine. Typically people visit a winery not only to taste their end result, but also to learn something about the process of bringing their wine to your glass. Did you know that each bottle of wine contains about 1,200 grapes, and there are about 300 grapes in one glass of wine?! During my first winery visit, I was amazed to learn about the level of effort it takes to produce the perfect grape.
The process starts at least three years before you plan to harvest, which is the time it takes for a new grape vine to produce usable grapes. But you can’t just plant them and forget them – those vines have to be nurtured in order to harvest superior grapes. The vines need well-drained soil to help them develop a heathy root system, they have to be pruned regularly, they require 7 to 8 hours of sunlight each day – the list goes on. If the weather and wildlife haven’t ruined the crop, the grapes are harvested which includes: picking by hand or machine; separating the fruit from the stems and leaves; fermenting the grape mash; and aging the liquid gold in different types of barrels until they are ready to be bottled and consumed.
Whew, what a process! The next time you open a bottle of your favorite varietal, give a toast to those that tended to those vines and used their craft to make that perfect vintage for you! As a wine lover, I appreciate the effort required for me to enjoy the delicious results.
Focus On Your Goals
Accompanying this article is a photograph of a motorcycle and its rider. Pay particular attention to where the motorcycle tires are pointed compared to where the rider’s eyes are focused. The motorcycle will follow where the rider is looking, so if the rider is not focused on proceeding through the turn, both will end off the track and in the “kitty litter” (the gravel on the shoulder of the track to help slow you down). I’ve watched my fair share of motorcycle racing and have always been amazed watching the racers bank a corner at 100+ mph with this juxtaposition. Riders stay on the track and on the motorcycle by staying focused on what’s ahead. Are you focused on your end result or going off the track?
Preparation, effort, focus. These are just words, just strategies; they only become more if you take action. Results are achieved when strategy meets execution. Train, watch the tapes, prune the vines, sharpen your ax…and stay out of the kitty litter.
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This article was originally published on Fleet Management Weekly.