Have you ever noticed how some people always find a way to get a task done while others flounder and fail? We might be tempted to assume that it has something to do with the nature of the task—and sometimes it does—unless we witness two people facing the identical challenge. Our second assumption might be to credit the fortitude and resourcefulness of the individual—which is frequently the case—unless we have already witnessed an impressive range of accomplishments done by both of the people in question. So, on those occasions when the differentiating factor is not the elements of the task nor the attributes of the person, what is it that causes one person to flounder and another to forge ahead? What is the critical condition that determines whether we cross the finish line, or blunder into defeat?
When we really don’t want to do something, we see all the reasons why it cannot be done. Every little setback is a deal-killing obstacle; every imperfection, a reason for abandonment. Conversely, when the task is something we personally desire or feel strongly about achieving, we see all the ways in which it can and will be done. Those same setbacks and imperfections become opportunities for creative thinking and clever problem solving. Rather than daunting us, these challenges entice us with a world of possibility. It’s really as simple as that. The intensity of our desire determines our commitment to success, and that commitment leads to resourceful problem solving and efficiency. Our heart, mind and body must be in agreement. Go figure.
When we have not accepted the necessity of a task—which is usually the case when we don’t want to do something—we exist in a state of hope that someone else will step in and do the job for us. Heck, if we wait long enough, maybe the need to have the task done, at all, will miraculously vanish. Both of these effort-saving occurrences have no doubt happened in our past, so it’s not unreasonable to think that they’ll happen now and get us off the hook. We may appear to be procrastinating, but what we are really doing—or so we tell ourselves—is strategically postponing.
Strategic Postponement. Isn’t that nice? It sounds like something we might learn at Harvard business school, Special Forces, or a secret ninja camp in the mountains of Iga. It has just enough legitimacy to obscure the fact that we are running away from what needs to be done. That doesn’t sound nearly as cool, does it? The result isn’t cool, either. The task drags on, problems stack, tensions rise, and emotions flare. A job that might have been accomplished with surgical efficiency and well-applied effort, becomes a mangled mass of wasted energy and resentment. Not very strategic, after all.
We are at our most efficient when we are quick to accept and commit to an action. When we embrace the inevitability of the job, we stop wasting time and thought on whether it can be done and, instead, focus all of our energy and resources on how to do it. Absolute commitment means that we have allowed ourselves only one way out of the race and that is, over the finish line. The sooner we begin, the smarter we think, the harder we work—the sooner the task will be done. It’s that simple and that elegant.