Come on in and take a seat. I’m going to tell you a story.
Since January 1st, 2012, I have been on a mission. I decided that I was going to set the extremely ambitious goal of finishing the Akron Marathon in late September. Now, that’s not saying I’m going to run the whole thing or that I’m going to even try to be competitive. I just want to start at the starting point and still be alive at the finish line. No one could be more shocked at this goal than me. I’ve always HATED running. Back when I was a kid and we’d have to run a mile in gym class, I’d stop a few minutes in. I wouldn’t even try to walk it because it felt embarrassing. I would just tell the teacher my side hurt (which was true) and I’d sit it out. But my goal for 2012 was set. I was going to get in shape and I was going to do a marathon.
I’ve been training pretty darned aggressively all year long. There is a certain pattern to the work-outs. One week emphasizes cross-training a bit more, one week concentrates on strength training a bit more. I’ve gotten to the point where I can walk/run 6 miles and not completely collapse in agony. All well and good, certainly.
Last week, the plan was that I was going to go up to the art museum with my parents, and we were going to get a pretty early start. I was slotted to do 6 miles and I knew I probably wouldn’t do it after walking around a museum all day, so I got up early and gave myself an hour and a half to complete my goal. It was pretty chilly, rather rainy, but I had my eyes on my mission, so I went on ahead. Things went pretty swimmingly too, till about 2.5 miles. I was taking a walking break and reached a point in the lap I was in where the ground was pretty darned slick from the rain. I was trying to walk fast so as not to lose time, but I thought I was being careful. Suddenly, I found myself on my right knee, my right hand flat on the ground, and my water bottle rolling away as if to avoid being collateral damage.
At that point, I felt rather pouty. Not only does falling down hard kind of hurt, but this was really messing up my whole plan. What if I couldn’t finish? What if it took me too long and I threw off the whole day? I got up and finished up pretty much on time. I did not really take inventory of whether I had injured myself. There was no time. I had my eyes on my mission.
Fast forward to almost a week later and I am still suffering from the ramifications of that fall. It seems I put my right arm out of whack a bit. My left knee is really sore, so I’m thinking I twisted it. Because I didn’t stop and evaluate my situation after falling, I probably made things worse for myself. But I was on a mission, and I wanted to complete it.
Is your mission blinding you?
In the online world, we see all kinds of advice for entrepreneurs. Don’t worry about failing because you can learn so much, right? Keep plugging ahead. You always have your kids but your business needs to be nurtured. That company needs to grow. You need to meet your goal for success, right? You’re on a mission, and you want to complete it.
But what are you missing along the way?
Maybe a really valuable team member resigned to go somewhere else and you’re finding it difficult to replace everything they did. But you keep plugging away. Maybe you had the worst month in company history, but you can’t take the time to figure out what happened. You’ll just beat it next month, that’s all. You have to. It’s part of your mission. Maybe you suffered a PR disaster. But you don’t have time to go back and fix that. You’ll catch it on the flip side, when you take a breather. Right now you’re plugging ahead. You’re on a mission.
As long as you keep on running, a little spill here or there won’t matter, right?
Except one day you realize your company’s knee is twisted or your own health is deteriorating, and you realize, “Huh, actually…I can’t keep going on the way I’ve been going. I’ve got some real problems here.”
The mission isn’t everything
Having goals is great. I’m nothing if I’m not a goal-oriented person. And being dedicated to your goals- hey, I’d have it no other way. But sometimes there are things more important than that myopic mission view. My knee and my wrist are telling me I need to take a short break from my mission before I do worse harm to myself. What is your company (or your life) telling you? What pitfalls are you setting up for yourself as you walk past danger signs towards your one and only end-goal? What weaknesses could be fixed if you just took the time to stop and fix them? Or just to evaluate them?
Is your mission blinding you? Is it time for you to take a step back and evaluate where you are?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cori_m/6596284261/ via Creative Commons