"Grinding" Your Way to Success

Earlier today, I spoke with a colleague who has been wrestling with a group of internal customers who seem to be in a perpetual state of “resisting change”.

You know those types… the kind of people who defy the most logical solutions and what appear to us to be the most obvious of necessary process or organizational changes. Oh, those endless conversations about the most granular of insignificant details.Walking away and wondering if my organization will ever “get it”. To add insult to injury, those days are often accompanied by conversations with others who appear to have found that holy grail. The grass always does always appear a lot “greener on the other side”.

But today, my friend was given some very valuable (perhaps career saving) advice. As he wrestled with this dilemma, one of his partners shared a good analogy. He pointed to, of all sports- golf, where its not uncommon for a player to do everything “right” and just not have the “breaks” fall his way. While this has happened to almost every golfer I know, what’s even more amazing is how often this happens to professional tour players. When you have some time, take a look at the tour results- wins, top finishes, earnings, and player statistics. What you’ll find is that while there are 2 or 3 people every year that appear to perform flawlessly week in and week out, they are still few and far between. Most players practice hours on end, only to win one or two events in a particular year. Even the “top guns” go many strokes in between what they would call a perfect shot. Few, if any, ever claim to have a perfect round.

No, golf is a game of “grinding”. Hundreds, if not thousands of shots waiting for that perfect swing. And boy does it feel good when it happens. Golf is a game of doing the “right things” over and over again, even when inspiration and motivation are lacking. Good players know that strength is gained in the “grind”, and it is the process of “grinding” through the misery that ironically produces the best shots.

Changing corporate culture is much the same way. While you will spend hours and hours doing the “right things”, most of the time, it won’t feel like you’ve gained anything. You’ll question yourself, your employees, your leadership, and your culture. Until one day, you’ll hit that perfect shot. Someone in a meeting will utter something that will let you know the culture has begun to shift. Just like the well struck golf ball after months of “grinding it out”.

To my friend and colleague, I say great advice. Hang in there and keep “grinding”. Cultures take a long time to change, but there is nothing sweeter than seeing it occur in action, which makes the long “grinding” phases well worth the wait.


Author: Bob Champagne is Managing Partner of onVector Consulting Group, a privately held international management consulting organization specializing in the design and deployment of Performance Management tools, systems, and solutions. Bob has over 25 years of Performance Management experience and has consulted with hundreds of companies across numerous industries and geographies. Bob can be contacted at bob.champagne@onvectorconsulting.com

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