I've got a confession to make. I'm a sprinter. In school athletics I was always the long distance lady and cross country queen. Sprinting wasn't my thing. But when it comes to work, the long slow grind is enough to drive me bananas. I like variety in the peaks and troughs, end to end nature of projects.
- Long slow burn with the humdrum of adminisitrivia? Meh.
- Following a process and not colouring outside the lines or questioning? Boring!
- BAU with no end in sight? Just shoot me now. I'm yawning just thinking about it.
However it's not all bad. My sprint style helps me to achieve more than many, deliver on massive deadlines and push the proverbial uphill. I once wrote and produced an online training course on a Sunday - videos and all! And while I was exhausted at the end, I loved every minute. Yet, the thought of going back in and auditing, editing and refining it leaves me sadly cold.
What is sprinting?
We all know what sprinting is. That short intense burst of speed and power used to create momentum to get over the finish line or achieve a results.
- Sprinters sprint - and after a little digging I can see that Flo Jo's 1988 record still stands (who knew?!)
- Project methodologies use sprinting to harness momentum and meet short term project deadlines
- Mountain climbers sprint to the summit – have you been reading about Lhakpa Sherpa, arguably the world's greatest female Everest climber? WOW
- And if you follow Dr Michael Mosely on the BBC (soon to be visiting Melbourne) you know that short bursts of sprinting are awesome for your fitness (HiT) and a great option for women managing cortisol overload and who still want to train
They're exhilarating, energising, adrenalising .... and they get heaps of stuff done. And they are the bread and butter of both The Player and The Fixer if you follow my methodology.
When sprinting for work works?
- When a project or strategic initiative requires a rapid burst of energy or direction change
- When you have a new idea and want it to gain traction or launch really fast
- When you've got a massive workload and you need to get to the finish line on time and on budget
- When you've got a deadline looming and need a finish line to eliminate overwork, rework or perfectionism
When it doesn't work?
- When you are in it for the long haul
- When you are worn out, exhausted and overwhelmed and simply don't know what to do next
- When it's your only style of operating
How do you know?
As a sprinter from way back, who tends to work with other highly successful sprinters as clients (yes you), I've seen and heard about all the signs. Here are nine signs that you need to recalibrate or wind back on your default sprint mode -
- When you get to the end of your HUGE Monday and you're exhausted already, and it's not because you had a big weekend, and it's still only Monday!
- When you suffer chest pains from stress at midnight as you finalise last minute updates for your 8.30am presentation the next morning
- When you regularly run for (or miss) your flight because you seem to get to the airport only just in time
- When you submit your BAS/tax return on the last day possible - 9 x out of 10
- When you are using your sprint to the deadline nature as an excuse for not achieving or as an apology for work you worry isn't going to be good enough
- When you submit job applications at the last minute - and use this as an excuse to yourself for missing out because it was such a last minute rush
- When you only have two settings - flat out like a lizard drinking or flat out on the couch resting
- When your sprints leave you so exhausted or drained that you can't contribute any more either at the office or worse, at home (robbing from the personal to pay for the professional)
- When your over reliance on sprints means you have no room for creativity, daydreaming, innovation, reflection and course correction along the way
The way you do anything is the way you do everything
If you ticked yes to three or more of the above, there's a fair chance you might want to examine your practices and put mechanisms in place to mitigate the risk of over reliance on your sprint nature. Because if you're over reliant on sprinting in one area of your life you're probably doing it in others and haven't even noticed yet.
I find admin support, a coach, accountability, team members who are different styles (yes, diversity), or building in micro deadlines along the way, are all great tactics. Pick one, pick them all. Mitigate the risk of self sabotage.
And the Gold Standard? Using the sprint as it was intended, as just one of the tools in your toolkit. Not relying on the sprint as your only modus operandi.
Have your say
- What's your style? Do you rely on sprints? Or do you have more of a slow burn type of approach? Or do you have another tool in your toolkit?
- And what ever your approach, what do you do to ensure that it's not your only approach?
- Drop me an email because your ideas might just help someone else
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