Be Careful Where You Aim – You Might Hit It There

a guest post by Mark Miller, bestselling author of Chess Not Checkers and The Heart of Leadership


When was the last time you took a vacation? This may seem like a random question, but it is not intended to be. One of the disciplines I have learned and had to relearn over the years is the value of getting away. Even when I’m not working, I can still learn something…

This learning experience came while playing golf. Now, let me set the record straight; I am a lousy golfer. However, for some strange reason I really enjoy the game. Although I played quite a bit years ago, these days 6 – 8 rounds a year is typical.

We were making our way around the course, and I had enjoyed my share of good shots and bad. I am always excited when I can string two or three good ones together. This greatly enhances my chance of a bogey!

We approached the 9th hole and the yardage indicated about 280 yards to carry the water or a layup with a considerably shorter shot. I should confess, for me to hit a drive 280 yards involves some roll and maybe a bounce on a cart path. To carry the lake was not a likely outcome.

I stepped up and crushed one. We watched in amazement – this was one of the best drives I had hit in years. It landed about 270 yards away… in the lake. The guys with me seemed to be impressed with how far I had hit it; little consolation knowing I would have to hit another one from the tee with the addition of a penalty stroke.

I teed up my second ball – I blasted it! Two in a row – what were the odds? Again, it landed about 270 yards away, exactly where the first one had landed. Wet!

What’s a guy to do? I reloaded and hit a third one. For this one, I really stepped on it. It went about 275 yards. Wet again.

And not to be deterred, I teed up my fourth ball and launched it – you guessed it, SPLASH!

The point of the story? There are probably several, here’s one…

I knew I couldn’t hit a golf ball 280 yards on the fly before I took my first swing. So, what happened? I wasn’t trying to. I was aiming about 20 yards LEFT of where the ball was landing. Or at least I thought I was. In reality, my alignment was off!

Many times, leaders think their organizations are aligned and the truth is they are not. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome. That’s the trap I found myself in. I rationalized my poor outcome:

“I guess I’m just pushing it a little; maybe the wind is a factor; all I need to do is fire through the hitting zone; full rotation with a complete finish.”

All these thoughts ran through my head. Never did I consider, or want to admit, I might be hitting it exactly where I was aiming!

Great performance begins with great alignment.

A former golf coach taught me, “The flight of the golf ball never lies.” As it relates to organizations, my friend and colleague, Randy Gravitt, reminds me that our systems, structure, habits and behaviors are perfectly aligned to create the outcomes we are currently experiencing.

If your organization is not hitting it where you want, there could be many reasons – however, I would start by checking your alignment. Great performance begins with great alignment.

Keep swinging!

Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

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