When I was in high school I ran on the cross-country team. I was lucky in that our school was one of the top in Minnesota for this sport. So I had the opportunity to learn from and run with the best in the state.
One of the reasons our team always did so well was because we had great coaches. These guys knew the sport of running as well as anyone. They also understood high school kids and how to motivate us.
There was one motivational technique they used that I’ll never forget because it always worked for me. I call it the “pick your runner” technique.
The idea was we would pick our runners during the race. This meant as we were running we should look ahead of us and decide who we were going to overtake next. After we passed them we’d pick another one and take them. Then we’d keep doing this as long as we could until the end of the race.
During the race the coaches would shout at us from along the course. I remember coach Lundeen yelling at me “whose next Stirtzer, whose next?” (Coach Lundeen was well known for making up weird nicknames for his kids.) Panting and gasping like a dying man I’d point forward and manage to shout out a number worn by a runner ahead of me. Then I’d accelerate and close on him.
I didn’t pass everyone I picked but I tried like crazy. And, as the season progressed my times got better and better.
Even now, years later, this technique makes sense. It’s a great way to accomplish something by breaking it down into visible, managable, do-able segments. This allows you to focus on one short term task (and only that task) until it’s accomplished. Only then do you think about the next step.
This technique helps you put the power of focus to work for you. My friend (and co-blogger at the Revenue Roundtable) wrote an article about this. He says focusing is being fully engaged and it’s key to accomplishing what you want because it makes the best use of your energy.
So, next time you feel like you’re not making the progress you want, “pick your runner” and “go after them”. You might find yourself making better progress this way.