Prosperity is a good thing. Growth is even better. And when you have something hot on your hands, look out!
But fast isn't always the best. In fact, more often than not, a careful well thought out pace always wins the race.
Marathon running has taught me you cannot burn yourself out in the first part of the race. You've got to save yourself some energy and resources to power through to the finish.
And, as a four-time marathon finisher, I also learned that it takes getting to the start line in a ton of pain knowing you shouldn't even start the race! It was September 2012 when I flew to Berlin to run my first attempt at the marathon. Weakened with an Achilles heel on fire after a tough long pregnancy, it wasn't the right time for me to run this race. But, nonetheless, I flew over, got to the start, and didn't get past the gun. At that moment I knew if I tried to run 26.2 miles out of spite and ego that I would spend more time nursing my foot than training! I was right. I put my pride aside and said, don't start.
I'm glad I waited. In 2013, I went back and had a healthy finish. It was exhilarating going home to focus my problem, get healed, and then to play my marathon like a game of chess knowing I'd move my pieces forward if I took the time to evaluate what I needed to do to be successful.
And sometimes you are already in the thick of something and you have to stop the job.
Period. End of story. When things don't seem right or you need time to carefully plan your strategy and execution, the best answer isn't to continue. Your best answer is to STOP, evaluate your current state and plan what the next steps are and to carefully take them.
As a safety organizational and change professional I've spent years coaching leaders worldwide on how to be aware of the risks and intervene in unsafe situations. I counseled teams on how to build a culture around quality. You may get cheap, and you may even squeeze by, but you cannot expect to get the right results in a sustainable way if you skip on quality. And in my industry, when you cut corners, people die.
We live in a day and age where we push to produce output. We push so hard that sometimes we don't have a clue what the outcome is, but in our minds we're producing something so that's better than nothing at all.
Last week I stopped my own job. Things were simply out of control and I could see everyone was pushing things hard and fast when we really needed to be mindful and skillful in our approach.. We had unknown targets, loosely defined requirements, SWAG numbers, and several other unknowns including a lack of confidence in the labor pool. I felt blind. We were flying at Mach speed with no real purpose. I remember the moment I said STOP. I was empowered to begin leading. And I did.
People think saying NO or stopping is a sign of weakness. They also believe these decisions are for the leaders and not for everyone. I disagree. I believe it's a position of strength. It's a mark of courage. Those who know how to pace, create value, and savor quality, are the people who see different results.
When have you had to stop the job? say no? stand for something unpopular?