A Case For Execution

How defining critical roles and executing them leads to success.

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Marshawn Lynch AKA "Beast Mode"

If you were expecting an argument for or against Capital Punishment, I apologize now.

When a professional athlete begins competition they have a game plan and strategy to win. They have spent time preparing physically and mentally by studying their opponent and refining their technique. When the game begins they enter what I refer to as “execution mode” when their sole focus is to implement their plan and beat their opponent until the match ends. Ideally they are completely engaged without distraction in this activity until it is over. While many of them do plenty of Tweeting, Instagramming, and Facebooking off the field I do not recall seeing an athlete engage in these activities during competition. It is highly unlikely that they would speak with their agent on the sideline, take a call from a family member or friend, or catch up on the news.  When Marshawn Lynch steps on the field his critical role is to get the ball in the end zone.  According to Wikipedia “Lynch earned the nickname “Beast Mode” for his powerful running style, propensity for breaking tackles, and consistent ability to run over defenders”.  In other words, he executes his role incredibly well.

For me, a very common person, there are 3 specific times throughout my day that I try to execute. This means that I give these tasks my undivided attention and do not allow myself to be distracted during these times.

First, my morning workout. This has become a habit that I feel is a critical part of my day. From the moment I step in to the gym to the time I leave I am focused on this task. Aside from the physical health benefits, this helps me focus on improving myself and mentally prepares me for the day ahead. When we exercise the exertion causes a release of endorphins and chemicals in the brain which combat stress and can result in a sense of euphoria. The increase in Serotonin, ATP, Oxygen, and overall Strength and Stamina leaves me feeling good and ready to take on the day.  

The second task that I execute is prospecting. Being in sales, this activity is the critical role in my profession and if I am not doing it every day then I am not doing my job. I can’t stay in this task all day because there are other aspects of my work that I need to accomplish.  A typical day might include answering phone calls, returning emails, solving problems, creating prospecting plans, visiting clients, and coordinating efforts with other employees. I can easily go in and out of these activities. I can engage and disengage at will. However, when I enter my execution mode which involves the completion of my critical task I must give it my undivided attention. During this time I do not allow myself to take other calls, return emails, or allow others in to my office. This might go on for an hour or for several hours depending on the day. I could easily pass through my day fulfilling non-critical tasks and telling myself and others that I have accomplished my work. However, when I don’t take time to execute and am only being reactive to the needs of others then productivity is gone. I might feel that I have accomplished my work but I have not actually been productive.  Whether you are in Marketing, Accounting, Management, HR, Client Support, or any other role you should have critical productive tasks. Do you know what they are? Are you executing them on a daily basis? If you cannot answer those questions then you should find a new job where you can put your unique skills and talents to work.  Reactive people are easily replaced, productive people are not.

Third is time with my kids. Being a father of young children but also having a busy work life can make this difficult. Personally I have identified this as a critical part of my day that deserves my undivided attention. So from the time I get home from work to the time that they go to bed I have to “execute” being a father. This means leaving my phone somewhere that it won’t be a distraction to me which is hard to do sometimes. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect in this. I have identified it as a critical task so that I am mindful of it and do my best to engage in it completely on a day to day basis. Sometimes this includes engaging in it exclusively for a couple hours then allowing myself a break before getting back in to it again.  Responding to emails, checking social media, reading the news, etc. while being in the same vicinity as my children does not qualify me as a good father any more than sitting at my desk all day qualifies me as a good employee.

As our critical roles evolve through different stages of life we must continually identify them and execute them on a daily basis if we are to be valued contributors in the workplace as well as generally effective and successful people.  

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