I have been Foxtel free until very recently, and am now only just discovering the plethora of shows available to an avid television watch such as myself (a bit like providing a problem gambler with a gambling outlet right in their living room)
Of all the shows, I have become taken with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). (A little sad I hear you say, and you would be right) For those not familiar, it is a mixed martial arts competition in which competitors can use any fighting style to beat their opponent. It is violent, graphic and intense – yet I find it gripping television.
Aside from the memories of many years of both karate and judo as a child / teenager, I have been impressed with the level of dedication, focus and drive the fighters have to attain their goal.
This has led me to think: how focussed have I been on my goal?
UFC fighters prepare by being very skilled (black belts) in at least 1 or 2 disciplines of martial arts (judo, karate, wrestling, ju jitsu etc). This is not dissimilar to managers attaining their role by being good accountants, logisticians, customer service experts etc. It is also similar to facilitators being skilled at facilitating one or two topics.
To be great in the UFC, the athletes (and I will call them athletes because of the intense discipline and training required) have to explore outside their discipline/s and become very skilled at the whole range of fighting techniques.
As an excellent manager / leader, we are expected to explore outside our chosen disciplines to become skilled in the whole range of management techniques if we are to be thought of as great (and what manager / leader doesn’t want to be thought of as great by their peers / co-workers?)
To achieve competence across many disciplines, experts in one field of martial arts often have to start at the bottom of another art to gain the required skills and competence. For many, not having their previous competence recognised in the new discipline is too difficult to deal with, and they choose to opt out, limiting their overall skill set. The athletes that truly have the desire to grow learn to be humble, and place the distant goal of multi-discipline mastery ahead of short term setbacks.
What have you done to extend yourself in pursuit of your long-term goal?
When I truly reflected on this question, I was a little disappointed with the answer. In truth, I have stayed within the disciplines in which I am very comfortable; that is training & facilitation of leadership and team issues. But what of marketing? Social media? Succession planning and product growth? Business growth in non-traditional markets? These are all areas that I have been aware of and dabbled in, but have not truly explored. I have stayed within my skill set and been unwilling to start at the ground up on areas that are not my traditional skill set. The plan for this month is to plan out a strategy for developing these skills as part of my overall business / personal plan. It will involve research and outside sources to work out the key areas of development that will enhance my business growth. What is your plan?
Watching the UFC also highlighted to me the strength of purpose these fighters have to achieve their goals. Dealing with pain, discomfort and physical injury are obvious areas that these athletes need to prepare for. The dedication to training and practise, long hours toiling to achieve perfection of minor details and the sacrifice of personal rewards are often forgotten as essential requirements to achieving a long-term goal (which could be why the achievement of difficult long-term goals is so rare). I realised that I hadn’t been putting in the required time and effort to improve the areas of my development; a sobering realisation for someone who works in the area of personal leadership development.
So the question is: how have you extended yourself beyond your skill set to develop your long-term goal? Will you place yourself in a position of non-expert / learner to develop an essential skill for long-term development? Will you be prepared to deal with short term losses for the long-term gains?
So while I was initially struggling to come to terms with my new UFC obsession, it has in fact re-energised my long term business goals and reminded me of the persistence and effort required to get there.