To many people, the thought of a looming deadline and the resulting pressure is the embodiment of their biggest fear. To this group of people, putting yourself in a high pressure situation is to be avoided if at all possible. Let’s take an example: giving a speech in front of an audience. A speech has a deadline (the date of the speech) and it requires the speaker to assemble a presentation that is relevant and interesting to the expected audience. Many people have a fear of public speaking, and the very thought of giving a speech sparks a flight-or-fight fear response that prevents them from accepting a public speaking opportunity. Groups like Toastmasters exist specifically because of the extremely common fear reaction to public speaking.
Ok, people fear deadlines and they fear having their thoughts and ideas rejected. But do deadlines and pressure increase success for those who accept the challenge?
To get to this point, most people have already opted-out of the opportunity due to fear, and the success pool has been considerably narrowed. In fact, the higher the pressure, the greater the fear, and the smaller the pool of those who are willing and able to accept the challenge and face the deadlines, pressure and the very real fear of failure.
The resulting pool now is further narrowed by procrastination. Those who are willing and able, now fall into two groups, those who procrastinate and those who begin. There is no evidence to support that procrastination is aligned with success, just the opposite. Ask any college student or better yet ask their professors. You may get the project done the night before it’s due, but the quality of the result will suffer accordingly. If you don’t leave time to practice your speech, chances are you will not be very successful. You may pass your class, but successfulness is more than meeting minimum requirements.
So now we’re down to those who are willing and able to accept the project and deadlines, and who don’t procrastinate. The pool is again considerably narrowed.
The final self-selection is between those who seek perfection and those who focus on the success of their project. Time and again, the quest for perfection results in failure, because perfection by definition is unachievable by humans. Those pursing perfection will inevitably fail. If you need evidence of this, do a little research on the Naive Bayes algorithm. It’s the imperfect methodology used in search engines and email spam filters. Without it, there would be no Google and our email inbox would be impossible to maintain.
We are now in the company of a very small group of willing and able people, who use all the time they have before their deadline, and are focused on success in their objective and not on perfection.
This group of people creatively uses the constraints of the project as a beginning. Think of an artist that faces a blank canvass, or a writer who stares at a blank Word Document. Constraints are a place to begin. In fact, some artists impose constraints on their projects where no constraint exists, just to get beyond a blank canvass.
In my book, The Surging Team, I identify the five conditions that a leader cultivates and uses to find innovative solutions to difficult problems:
- Urgency (deadlines)
- A bold purpose (what is driving you and your team)
- Clear accountability (win or lose, it is your project)
- The well-being of those who are pursing the objective (happier people are able to see opportunities)
- Ability to collaborate and use ideas outside of your own (openness)
So, do deadlines and the resulting pressure increase success? The answer is YES they do. Success can only be awarded to those few people who self-select into the group who give themselves and their teams a chance to succeed, while everyone else is busy chasing perfection, procrastinating, or skillfully avoiding pressure and fearful opportunities.
Are you among these few?
BOLDbreak has one purpose, and that is to provide team leaders and company owners the tools and training they need, to develop an unstoppable Surging Team, a team that repeatedly succeeds in achieving difficult and important company objectives. When teams win, increased company profitability follows! Contact me today and let’s discuss that actions that you as the team leader or company owner need to take in order to lead your team to success.
Until then, Keep Winning!