Imagine a quarterback under center. He receives the ball and pulls back into the pocket, scouting for a receiver down field. One has broken away from the line and is open and ready to catch the quarterback’s pass.
But instead of throwing the ball to his open man, the quarterback dances in circles on the field, confusing his coach and his teammates. The opposing team wastes no time and within seconds, has snuffed the quarterback under a pile of 300+ pounders. The quarterback eventually emerges from the melee, but walks off the field more slowly than before. Fans wonder, Is he hurt? Is he okay? Is he limping?
What does this mean for our season?!
If this sounds too much like Sunday’s game and your team lost, I’m sorry. Believe me, it just happened to my team and it wasn’t pretty.
While this kind of scenario will be all-too familiar to many football fans, no coach or player worth his mega-million dollar contract would deliberately move around the field like this for the sake of being in motion. The game of football, like the game of business, is to make progress, even if that progress is measured only inches at a time. In fact, NFL teams scout for players who possess the specific ability to push themselves forward while carrying the ball through a blockade of fierce men in order to make another first down and keep the play alive.
Goals are set and plays developed in order to achieve the goals. In football, the goal for each team is to get the ball into the end zone as many times as possible to win the game.
For businesses, the goal is most often to grow.
Grow talent. Grow products and services. Grow profits.
Growth of any kind is dependent on forward progress, not merely going through the motions. When we find ourselves doing the same thing over and over again without any specific measurable results to point to, it’s time to rethink the game plan and subsequent execution of that plan.
But not merely for planning’s sake. Planning is important, but at some point you have to suit up, take the field, and face the realities of the marketplace. You have to execute the plan. Run the plays. Sometimes the plays will run seamlessly. Others, not so much.
Through my consulting practice, I’ve seen small business owners find themselves up against enormous defensive lines they can’t seem to break through, and as such, resort to doing things that feel like they are making progress when in fact, they are doing the equivalent of dancing in the pocket until the big uglies take them down. Sure, they’re moving — but they aren’t making one bit of progress.
As a small business owner myself, I’ve been in that position and it hurts. I’ve substituted busy-ness and planning for getting out there and playing the game, especially in my rookie season. It was easy to trick myself into believing a little more planning, study, getting ready to get ready was what I needed…
Rather than get out there and give it my all even if I didn’t feel completely prepared.
I’ve since learned you will NEVER feel completely prepared, no matter how new or seasoned you may be in your tenure as a business owner. At some point, the whistle is going to blow and you’ve got to run your plays.
Whether you’re a veteran like Aaron Rodgers or a rookie like Marcus Mariota, the game is still the game. Motion isn’t the same as progress.
The next time you’re up against a new initiative to meet a new set of goals, ask yourself this question:
Even if the play doesn’t go according to plan, keeping the answer top of mind each time you take the field will keep you focused and aligned with what matters most.
And it’s that kind of clarity — combined with strategic measurable action — that ultimately wins games and brings home the championship.