Driving for Results

An example of driving for results is Ellen MacArthur. She grew up wanting to sail. Her dream was to voyage around the world, non-stop and on her own. It was clear that she was determined from a young age. For three years, she saved up her school lunch money to buy her first boat. At age 17, she sailed alone around Britain.

Two years later, with no sponsorship and in a yacht she had prepared herself, she finished 17th in a single-handed race across the Atlantic, ahead of more experienced sailors.

But with little money, would MacArthur realise her dream to sail alone around the world? Continue reading to find out.

Unfinished business

The first aspect underlying the drive for results is to finish what you start.

There are many reasons why people need more time to finish their work. They may be juggling too many tasks and need better ways to delegate and focus. Or they have lost interest and become impatient trying to finish a large project. Whatever the reasons, the unfortunate result is unfulfilled commitments.

This is a problem well-known to the US army, which spent $6.9 billion and 21 years of effort developing the Comanche helicopter, only to cancel the project in 2004 before it had even gone into production. This was less than two years after the service also dropped the Crusader artillery scheme after racking up $2 billion of its originally estimated $11 billion price tag.

If you are experiencing problems completing tasks or seeing projects through to the end, perhaps it is time for you to do some damage control. Whenever you sense that you will not manage to meet your deadline, tell those concerned and give them good reasons why. Or better still, delegate it to someone who has the capacity.

Ultimately, you must get to the bottom of your difficulties with finalising your work so you do not run into the same problems again in future. You must commit yourself to finish each task you start then go out and get things done!

  • Why do you think it is important to finish what you start?
  • And do you ever leave important work unfinished? Why is this?
  • What important task have you not yet completed that you would like to complete now?
  • And what do you hope to gain from completing this task?
  • Knowing this, what resources do you need?
  • And what are the actions you can take within the next week to complete this task?

Be consistent

Driving for results also requires that you deliver consistently, no matter when or to whom.

Most people are not consistent in everything they do. For example, a staff member might follow through with one colleague but not with another. Or their work might be up to standard on some days, but not on others.

But you should not just follow through occasionally or appear a certain way sometimes; you need to be congruous in all your words and deeds. Otherwise, your inconsistent behaviour will reflect badly on you in the long run.

Sir Richard Branson, the business magnate best-known as the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, is consistent in the way he treats all his company’s employees. He is well-known not just for the way he treats staff as equals, but also for the way he takes a personal interest in them.

For example, when he flies on a Virgin Atlantic plane, he will meet each of the crew members on board – from the pilot to the flight attendants in economy class. After the flight, he will usually even stay in the same hotel at the destination as them.

In the early days of Virgin, Branson believed it was important for staff to be able to complain or make suggestions directly to him. Although the size of Virgin makes that impossible today, Branson starts each day reading and personally replying to emails and letters from his employees, regardless of the job they perform in the company.

Like Branson, you should also aim to be consistent in what you do.

  • In what ways do you consistently follow through and achieve what you need to?
  • And in what areas would you like to be more consistent?
  • How do you think consistently delivering top results in these areas might be beneficial to you?
  • And what do you think your first step could be to be more consistent in your performance?
  • This would be a great opportunity to commit to following through on completing your task. Would you like to check in with yourself in a few days and see how you got on?

How to get things done

Ultimately, driving for results comes down to getting things done.

So what is the best way for you to get things done? Just do them! But when faced with regular and multiple distractions, this is sometimes a tall order.

One way is to use a set of established best practices to achieve your objectives. And if you do not know how to design processes or workflows effectively, you can attend a relevant seminar or read books on total quality management or process re-engineering.

Leo Babauta, the creator of the popular Zen Habits blog, explores some valuable techniques for how to get things done in his book Focus: a simplicity manifesto in the Age of Distraction. Babauta argues that in order to overcome the many challenges we face today, the ability to focus is the key  – whether it’s getting fit, being productive at work or finding peace and happiness. An improved ability to focus, he says, “will allow us to create in ways that perhaps we haven’t in years. It’ll allow us to slow down and find peace of mind. It’ll allow us to simplify and focus on less – on the essential things, the things that matter most.”

So stop allowing yourself to get distracted! Create a schedule, find ways to focus and get into the ‘zone’ with your work.

  • What aspects of your work or life do you think you could be more focused on? How so?
  • Now imagine if you were as focused on these aspects as you just mentioned. What do you think this would enable you to achieve?
  • And what would it take to be more focused as you describe?

Reflect on driving for results

In 1999 pioneering yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur finally realised a lifelong dream when she got her first big sponsorship from the Kingfisher Group, which agreed to fund her entry in the 2001 Vendee Globe single-handed sailing race.

But MacArthur would need all her determination to finish the race. During the final stretch of the competition – and challenging for the lead – her yacht hit a submerged container; she had to stop for repairs. MacArthur finished in second place, arriving just one day after the winner.

Six years later, she showed a supreme demonstration of her drive to succeed and deal with unfinished business. She fulfilled her aspiration, and also broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe. And she did this with not sleeping for more than 20 minutes a day to be on constant lookout day and night!

Do you have this kind of dedication to achieve and exceed your objectives? Keep driving for results; you will get there too!

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