Will it make the boat go faster?

Keeping momentum and focus moving forward with your business isn't always easy to master ...

One of the best books I have in my collection is by 2 authors - Ben Hunt-Davis and Harriet Beveridge, and its title is “Will it make the boat go faster?”. The premise of the book is around Ben’s 4-year journey as part of the GB Gold medal rowing team at the Sydney Olympics. It’s an amazing book, that as business owners we can all relate to in terms of keeping the focus and prioritising things on a daily basis that move us forward - not sideways or backwards!

Ben begins by recounting the day of that final in Sydney and the routine the whole team went through prior to the race. He talks about how focused the team were, and how this very moment, this very situation was the pinnacle of what they had all been working towards for years. However, he explains that it wasn’t an easy journey at times but would have been even more difficult had it not been for the clarity and commitment from everyone about the goal they had set. In it’s simplest of terms, all they had to do, was win a race! Easy - or was it?

I think as entrepreneurs, we seem to have this additional “gene” that takes our eye off the ball when something exciting and full of potential crops up, thus derailing us momentarily from “the main thing”. I’m certainly guilty of that and can still find myself immersed in something at times that can take me away from building the core business. Personally, I have found 2 things that really help me to focus my actions:

Scope out your vision and goals

What the eye can’t see, the mind cannot bring to fruition, therefore it makes sense to be able to write or even draw out your long, medium and short-term goals or milestones. As humans, we think in pictures not words, so make your plan as visual as possible. Once you have done this to cover a 1-5 or 1-10-year period, then you need to ensure you have it visible at all times. Place a copy in your office, in your car, in the loo!! It needs to remain in the conscious mind as much as possible so that there is never any question about the direction you need to be travelling in. Goals don’t have to be big either, as long as it resonates with you in terms of it being something that motivates you and is a stretch, it will move you towards something you do not currently have.

Log your daily activities for a while

Paul Hutchens taught me this trick, and that is to keep a simple log on an XL sheet for a few weeks or possibly a month tracking everything you do each day. Then, at the end of the day or week, simply look at all the activities that are NOT conducive to your goals and creating forward motion and compare these to the one’s that HAVE moved you and your business forward. This is much easier to do if you have completed the goal exercise above. I simply underline in red anything that has distracted me from my vision and then remember NOT to repeat these activities the following week!

But what if we have done all of the above, but the motivation is waning and therefore, our focus drifts off somewhere else? It’s at these times we need to remind ourselves of what truly motivates us towards the goals we have set. In the book I have highlighted, Ben Hunt-Davis talks about the key motivators that kept both him and his team mates focused:

  • Believe

  • Make the journey entertaining

  • Get competitive

  • Make yourself hungry

  • Daydream

  • Flick the switch (when it’s time to focus, flick the switch)

  • Create measurable milestones and rewards

  • Use the ten-minute rule (set yourself a small target/goal to complete in ten minutes)

Creating momentum is also crucial in growing you and your business. Without momentum, you create stagnation and we have seen it many times when working with inadequate Leaders and their teams. I’m not suggesting that sometimes we cannot take a few backward steps to reflect and re-group, but the intention behind this action has to be in order to continue with forward momentum.

Small changes on a daily basis can multiply into massive improvements in results – it’s the compound effect kicking in! Here are 6 simple rules to help build momentum:

  1. Believe in better – keep it burning bright!

  2. Eat the elephants one spoon at a time

  3. Create daily habits

  4. Tell it how you see it and make it timely

  5. Experiment

  6. Don’t continually repeat mistakes!

Let me just elaborate on point 2 about eating the elephants. At the Beijing Olympics, the GB cycling team won an astonishing 14 medals! Dave Brailsford who was the British Cycling performance director, put the success down to “the aggregation of marginal gains”. Basically, he had scrutinised every single part of the process that gets a cyclist on the track and racing. He looked at the nutritionists, the physios, the bike technicians, and of course the athletes themselves. His philosophy was that if each of these people in their particular roles could squeeze an extra 1% out of what they do and how they perform, then the overall effect is phenomenal!

Focussing on creating the small daily habits will create momentum in the long run - in the book they reference it in the following way:

“When we are crap at something, to try and immediately go to brilliant isn’t practical, so let’s try being just a little less crap at first”

If you have ever seen small children running around in a paddling pool, they create momentum with the water, so when they stop the water continues. Ideally, that’s what we want in our own lives on a daily basis - habits and actions that create momentum to drive us forward in our growth.

In the book, there is a great term called “Bouncebackability” which refers to when we face setbacks on our journey which, if we are all honest, is inevitable. Successful people don’t get fewer setbacks, they just learn to deal with them in a different way. So how can you develop the “muscle” to deal with setbacks along the way? Build a P A D to re-launch yourself forward:

Prepare before a setback happens – What if? conversations need to happen

Accept the setback when it comes – Focus on the goal at times like this and remember, the bad will pass

Do what needs to be done to turn it around – Control what you can and move on from it swiftly

In conclusion, as you go about your day to day activities moving you towards goals and dreams, always ask yourself the question – “Will the action I am about to take make the boat go faster?”

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