02nd Dec 2011

The Track to Success

For an executive, the first one hundred days after a major promotion can feel like taking a hairpin turn in a racing car. It’s a moment when the stakes are raised, the tension is severe, and failure, though a scary possibility, is simply not an option.

With this in mind it may interest you to know that racing car drivers are given the following piece of advice on the subject of taking hairpin turns at high-speed. Focus on the road, they are told, and not on the wall. It’s a wise admonishment, and it teaches a valuable lesson for anyone facing a high-pressure situation with a narrow margin for error. It’s a lesson on the subject of negative suggestion.

Negative suggestion is the powerful irrational force with which we invest the things we are trying to avoid. It’s the strange process, hard to articulate but familiar to us all, by which we end up doing the one thing we were trying very hard not to do. The racing-car driver may feel a natural inclination to concentrate on the wall because he wants very much to avoid crashing into it; but in fact concentrating on the wall for any reason whatsoever at such a crucial moment makes him many times more likely to do just that.

Failure can result from trying too hard to avoid failure. In the corporate environment, this can mean several things. Anxiety about potential disasters. Worry about powerful competitors – within your company and the market as a whole. A too anxious – or a too disengaged – mindset can lead a newly appointed executive to squander his or her first 100 days. Some get caught up in continual firefighting, some fall into passivity and procrastination.

The First100 approach is focused narrowly on the steps necessary to achieve success. It is about identifying strategic priorities, setting achievable aims, and making sure you meet them with a detailed First 100 Days Plan. The plan is tailored to meet your specific needs, and geared toward performance acceleration from day one.

Negative concerns should not be allowed to eat the lion’s share of your day-to-day energy. In the first 100 days you should be focused on the road, not on the wall. If your priorities are straight and you stick with your plan, you are no longer susceptible to the irrational power of negative suggestion.

Hilda Goold

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