I recently had a conversation with the president and owner of one of the companies we work with. During the conversation he told me about a specific project he was working on that would take six months to a year to complete.
Whenever I hear six months, three months, or one year, it always raises a red flag. My preference is to hear 16 days, 51 days, etc. because it would indicate there had been more thought, research and planning to come up with the number of days required for the project.
With that in mind I said to the owner, "How do you know it's going to take six months to a year?" His response was, "I just think it will." I asked him what time it was and asked him to write down the time which happened to be 4:13.
Within four minutes he had identified the four main points of the project, who he needed to include in the project, and what roles those people would play. He then made a commitment to reach out to the participants and set up appointments for the following day. I then asked him if he still felt that it would take six months to a year. His response was, "No, it will not." I then said, "Let's pretend you were in the DVD business and you had to sell 1,200 DVDs in a 12 month period. How many would you sell in a month?" His response was 100.
I told him he was incorrect which he had a difficult time accepting. As he put it to me, "It's simple math - 1,200 DVDs divided by 12 months is 100 per month. He could have sold the 1,200 DVDs the first month if he put his mind to it. His mindset was getting in the way of his ability to achieve his goal.
To reach high levels of performance we need to accomplish our high impact goals in the shortest period of time without sacrificing quality. A good start would be to create a sense of urgency and focus on high performance activities to achieve the intended result. Or put another way, "I will work on this aspect of my project and not allow any distractions or start another task."
In order for this to take place it is not necessarily a function of activity but more of an action of mindset which includes, "I must get this done without distractions because it is so important." Distractions are the great inhibitors of high performance. It's that voice we hear inside that gives us multiple agendas which causes confusion and draining of energy.