If you’ve ever been part of a sporting team, participated in physical education class at school, or trained with an outdoor fitness class or the like, chances are you’ve ‘run the lines’ or completed shuttle runs as part of your training.
For the uninitiated this involves running at full tilt between the lines either side of the field or witches hats placed 25, 50 or even 100 metres apart. The objective is to run at 100% effort and touch the line at each end of the shuttle run, hence the term ‘running the lines’.
Even if you’ve never had the displeasure of this particular workout, you can probably understand the temptation to cheat the lines, even by just a tiny, little, smidgy bit. It’s hard work and the mind is constantly telling the body to slow down, take it easy, it’s only training afterall! What harm could possibly come from pulling up a little short and turning a little earlier? Especially if you’re dragging the proverbial chain and lagging behind your team mates or class mates…
Here’s the thing. How we show up and play in our games, whether they be competitive sports, team sports, individual pursuits like running, triathlon or even just a simple board game at home with the family…is how we show up in life. Games are a window into our behaviours elsewhere in our business, work or relationships. You know that Uncle of yours who gets really upset about losing at Trivial Pursuit? Or that team mate at football training who’s…well…not always at training? Those same people will be exhibiting those traits in other areas of their lives and, sadly, getting the results or lack of that go with those behaviours.
So what the heck has cheating the lines got to do with your business or financial success and freedom?
Well, look at it like this – if games are a reflection of behaviour and practice makes permanent (not perfect, as many say) it stands to reason that the way you practice your games are going to show up as permanent behaviours elsewhere. Still lost? Let me illustrate by expanding on this a bit further…
Let’s say you play for the local football, netball or some other sporting team and you are the one who turns a little early in those shuttle runs. You’ve had a big week, the kids have been sick and keeping you up at night, you had an extra sausage roll for lunch, whatever it is, you tell yourself that turning a little early is no big deal. In fact, it’s the right thing to do because if you didn’t you’d probably pull a hammie or wear yourself down and then you wouldn’t be able to perform at 100% in the game on Saturday.
Besides, it’s only 30 centimetres and you’re running hard for the other 24 metres or so. Heck, the team should be happy to have you at training at all, especially since you were the one who scored the winning try/goal/basket/etc in the drought-breaking grand final of 2006!
Next week, you have a nightmare client who keeps you on the job til late and again, turning a little short of the line seems justifiable, in fact it’s the sensible thing to do. And the next week, and probably the next. Until it’s become a habit and then running the full distance seems ridiculous.
Unlikely? Sadly, no.
Game day arrives. It’s a close one. So close the scores are tied. You’re in the dying minutes of the game. You have no substitutes. You’ve all run hard for the entire game. Everyone is on their last legs. Suddenly, an opposition player manages to intercept the ball and make a break for their goal/basket/whatever.
You’re in a prime position to run them down and save the game for your team who literally come to a halt and stand, watching you chase down the other player…only the other player is just that tiny bit faster, or fitter, or something.
How is this person getting away from you?
You turn up to training every week! You’re one of the fittest on your side! You’re so close now you can almost touch their jersey…just…one…more…step. They elude your defense and score… everyone on your team drop their heads and their shoulders in defeat, including you.
Maybe this has happened to you. Maybe it hasn’t. You know what I’m going to say caused this but I’ll say it anyway… cheating the lines. Maybe it was only that ‘one time’ that you did it, maybe it was the weekly habit while coach wasn’t looking. Either way, it sets up a deficit in your effort that, when pitted against the player who didn’t cheat their lines at training, became very, very apparent.
Ordinary things done consistently well yield extraordinary results.
Same goes in your business. Your relationships. Your wellbeing. Small things.
Seemingly inconsequential shortcuts or concessions, can all add up over time to create undesirable results that literally fall short of your desires and expectations.
The problem wasn’t that you weren’t the fastest on game day and yet, that’s exactly what we tell ourselves. Worse still, our team mates tell us that too in an effort to make us feel like less of a failure. They’re trying to help but they’re actually enabling…
So take a look at your business – where are you ‘falling short’? Is it your marketing? Perhaps your systems? Maybe your team training? Skipped a team meeting lately? Put off following up a quote? Stopped posting to social media? Dropped the ball with your email marketing?
What about your health – stopped making those healthy lunches and instead opting for a pie? Slept a little late and skipped breakfast?
All these small gaps compound to make wide chasms in your results. Unfortunately they usually amass over a long period of time so it’s hard to pinpoint where things fell down and instead we blame the economy, our cut-price competitors or better yet, the government and even our employees.
Time to get back to training and hit those lines…every time…at 100% and I bet you’ll catch that breakaway player next time you hit the field on game day.