A good surfer learns to duck dive as the most efficient way to get out to a surf break and quickly avoid being caught in the impact zone. They literally learn to go through the wave.
Earlier this summer, O.A.R. my favorite music band released a new song titled “I Go Through”. The song was written in collaboration with Nathan Chapman, the famous Nashville songwriter/producer who has collaborated with many famous artists including Taylor Swift, Darius Rucker, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and others. The writing of the song was documented in a mini video series called “Evolution of a song” The goal of the video series was to capture the creative process. The video series can be seen on Qello and it provides some great insights into the creative process and challenges of writing a great song.
The main refrain of the song is “You go 'round and around it, you go over and under I go through”.
Listening to the song over and over again, I began to think about the lyrics in the context of my life and my work. What I find in this digitally connected age of email, text, voice mails, social media and other mediums of communication is that most people swirl round and round because of the technology. The result is that people tend to be less responsive than ever. It amazes me the number of unread emails on friends and colleagues’ phones and the fact that I often get responses to emails weeks after they are sent.
I see a trend and a pattern in this behavior. Some people just “go through”. They EXECUTE. Rather than going “round it and round it, they go through”. It comes down to having an execution mindset. Execution focused people address the matter at hand and avoid the distractions surrounding them. I work with a great client AccruePartners, a top staffing firm who has been on the Inc 5000 several times. Their female Co-CEOs built their corporate culture around immediate response. They see one of their competitive advantages as being timely responses. One of their core values is “Make it happen” and each and every employee lives that value daily. As a result they are highly successful and a pleasure to work with.
Ram Charan and Larry Bossidy in their book Execution: The discipline of getting things done highlight the importance of having focus to execution. The book states,
“A leader who says ‘I’ve got ten priorities’ doesn’t know what he’s talking about—he doesn’t know himself what the most important things are. You’ve got to have these few, clearly realistic goals and priorities, which will influence the overall performance of the company.”
Charan and Bossidy go on to highlight three points about execution:
- Execution is a discipline, and integral to strategy.
- Execution is the major job of the business leader.
- Execution must be a core element of an organization’s culture.
Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. I work hard to model the behaviors that I expect from others. That starts with being ultra responsive to emails and other communications. I pride myself on keeping my inboxes clean. If I have time to read an email, I have time to craft a quick response to at least acknowledge receipt. This informs the sender that they are important to me and that I respect their time and effort to reach out to me. Getting Things Done® (GTD) author David Allen has a two-minute rule, which states that "If the Next Action can be done in 2 minutes or less, do it when you first pick the item up. Even if that item is not a "high priority" one, do it now if you're ever going to do it at all."
As an organizational development consultant and executive coach, I spend much of my time helping individuals and organizations to maximize their performance. I find an execution mindset to be one of the biggest difference between those who are very successful and everyone else.
People who execute at work, execute in their personal lives as well.
Responsiveness to social planning is a good proxy for how someone approaches their work life as well. That unresponsive friend is probably equally unresponsive at work. I often remind my coaching clients to model the behavior that they expect from others. If they are unresponsive, then they indicate that it is OK to be unresponsive to others as well. One of the lyrics in the O.A.R. song is: “My daddy told me, ‘politicians never learn the golden rule. Do unto others, as you'd have them do to you.’" Sage advice for living a fulfilled life.
Music has the ability to uplift us and to change our behaviors, “I go through” is about the relationship between a father and his son who wonders when his dad is going to come home from work, but in reality the songs lyrics are about being honest with oneself and letting that honesty transcend the way you treat others. The song ends with the final refrain,
“We go 'round and around it
We go over and under
We go through”
Turn your execution focused behavior into a lesson for others. Your ability to make it happen impacts everyone around you.