You Really Don't Have a Choice!

Posted on February 4, 2016

The Super Bowl is here!!  I can taste the wings and the queso dip now.  

I am a college and pro football geek, certainly from the perspective of my Alma Mater, University of Florida, but maybe more so from a leadership perspective.  I love trying to discover what makes programs tick.  How do those great teams and organizations create sustainable success? 

It is hard to argue with the success of the University of Alabama and their coach Nick Saban, as painful as it is for me to say that.  However, it is clear that they have a focused program that somehow drives life lessons into 18-22 year olds and they have achieved somewhat unparalleled success even with the members of the organization constantly changing.  Much has been written about “The Process” at Alabama but something struck me in a recent Sports Illustrated article I read.  The article described Coach Saban's philosophy and their thought process and I wanted to take my own spin on this as it applies to our business and personal lives.

The quote that grabbed me was “The illusion of Choice”.  Following Alabama’s loss last year in the National Championship game the coaching staff set about talking to players and driving home that if they really and truly wanted to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a national championship next year, they didn’t have a choice.  The daily activities that needed to be accomplished, the focus and effort they needed to have with respect to each repetition, each off-season practice, the body of work that needed to be accomplished at an individual and team level was already defined for them and IF that goal was what they wanted, they didn’t have a choice in the matter, this was what they needed to do.  This was not a discourse on free will because obviously they had a choice related to if they would give it their full effort.  This was a discussion around logic and what was going to motivate the choice.

So let me take a stab at some applicability and as a logic/linear guy let me try and define a process for you to think about in your professional and personal life.  Done well, it allows you to let go of worrying about long term goals or the future and to put your full effort into what is before you today.  It will allow you to have confidence and set about a course of daily activities that need to be completed whatever purpose you define. 

The first thing to think about is do you believe in the following statements?

  • Achievement/Success (however you define it) is always tied to ACTION – your effort
  • Action, your individual effort is always tied to thought – your heart.
    • A clarifying item here, what I am talking about is sustainable action and effort. We can all trick ourselves into action over a short period, I am talking about commitment.

If you agree with the above then think about the following as a Process to consider in your daily life.

  • Why? – Understand your motivation, your heart – these are the core elements in your life that really drive you, that can change you. It takes time and effort to do this well, it also can be hard to do.
  • Listen – Define your goals, your purpose, what you stand for. Spend time in them, pray about them if you choose to do so, talk to others and see what they think.  Make sure they align with your heart, if they don’t it is the surest course to failure.
  • Act – Define/establish your daily activities that align with the items above. Put them in your schedule.

Success is tied to Action, Action is tied to thought - your heart.

Fairly simple but extraordinarily powerful.  If your motivations are established in gratitude and have honesty, integrity and for me, faith, as your guide rails then your choices become very limited (in a good way) regarding what you need to do.  You don’t “do” long term goals, you do action and the effort needed to achieve them.  Done well, you will have confidence knowing that your daily life is aligned with your purpose.  You will enter the “zone”, a place where you just know you are doing the right things and the game slows down. 

One last qualifier for us in our business, the most important thing we do is serve…all of our constituents – customers, associates and partners.  The items above have to be integrated into HOW you serve, the question is “Is serving others the most important thing to you?”  Only a question you can answer.

Go Panthers…but I would really like to see Peyton win and then retire.  Either way looking forward to massive quantities of wings and queso, which is really what the Super Bowl is about for me since the Dolphins haven't been back since the 80's.

Paul