Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How long is your game?


These days, the latest spin is king.  So much information is published so often and publicized so forcefully, it’s hard to remember what came before.  It is true in politics where GOP and Democrats fight it out for electoral votes, it is just as true in the office politics, where the winner gets a budget and a chance to build the project she is passionate about.  To win at the short game, often it is enough to be loud and clear, and to offer an  attractive soundbite.

Then there is the long game:  what happens after all the noise dies down, the news cycle moves on, and it is time to execute and produce results.  Often, it feels invisible and unimportant, since nobody is watching or cheering. Yet it matters a great deal. Although yesterday’s announcements are no longer in the news, the information remains available forever. 

So, do you play to win at a short or a long game? Do you work hard toward your announced goals after they are no longer exciting news?  Do you continue to uphold your values after everybody else has cooled down and moved on?  Your reputation is built on how your results relate to your promises. 

Having an audience, making promises and setting ambitious goals is exciting, saying what the client wants to hear is a great experience, and it is wonderful for relationships and for business.  On the other hand, executing on the promise often less glamorous, and involves tedious work.   New and exciting things are happening every day, and that makes it easy (and sometimes tempting) to forget what was said and promised earlier.

However, most serious projects take time and effort to build.  We have to be able to tune out the excitement of  the breaking news of the day long enough to concentrate on the technical side of the job and to get into the flow of work.   To step aside from the limelight and do the grunt work, which is not nearly as exciting as setting goals and producing soundbites.  

It's that non-glamorous, down-to-the-ground work that makes winners at the long game. It delivers results, innovations, and builds reputations.