When a runner competes in a marathon, he or she methodically plods along at a good pace for 90% of the distance. They prudently reserve energy for the final push at the end of the race. As the final mile approaches, the pace begins to pick up. Each runner vies for position. Then, they begin sprinting! Each runner is giving, not 100%, but 110% — each giving more than he or she thought was available inside — each striving to be the winner.
This is also true in business. Each of us plods along at a good pace for most of the distance making a very good income. Once in a while, though, we decide to be the best we can be, to give it our all — and more, to achieve more than we thought possible. We decide to sprint.
Just like a marathon runner, we can’t sprint all the time. We’d collapse from exhaustion before reaching the end of the race. But, we can plan specific episodes where we decide to dig deep and run like we’ve never run before.
As a sales manager for over 18 years, I found this idea to be very effective. Once a year, we would organize a sprint week for the entire team. We planned this week well in advance to make sure that no one was on vacation or distracted with important home or civic responsibilities. Everyone highlighted this week on their calendars and scheduled their most productive activities during that week. We ate well and got plenty of sleep the weekend before, to make sure we were physically strong and mentally engaged. In other words, we did everything we could to plan and prepare for a successful week.
On Monday morning, we hit the ground running with a pep rally, then jumped into the week with gusto. As we sprinted through the week, we resolved to waste no time on trivial conversation, petty disagreements, or distractions. Focus, energy, and determination were the order of the day. We ended the week with a celebration party where we reviewed the successes of the week.
You won’t be surprised to learn that we often had 3-5 times higher productivity in a sprint week than we would on an average week. Everyone realized that we couldn’t expect this level of achievement every week. That would be like trying to sprint an entire marathon. But we did discover something amazing. We learned what we were really capable of. We also learned how to clear away clutter, waste, and distractions. This made our regular weeks even more effective and enjoyable.
Success Tip: Organize a “Sprint Week” in your company, your organization, or just by yourself. Plan in advance to make it the most productive week of the year. Give your supreme effort — sprint! Then celebrate your amazing successes.