The National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys have a record of 1 win and 3 losses. That reality delights many who take pride in rooting against “America’s Team.” And, it frustrates the legion of Cowboys fans from coast to coast.
So why mention the Cowboys here? Although I live in the Dallas area, you wouldn’t call me a Cowboys fan. I am interested if they win or lose, but I didn’t even watch the last game …. or four on television.
It turns out that the Dallas Cowboys have a lot in common with companies and teams everywhere—they have great talent and yet they are failing to achieve their goals. Jean-Jacques Taylor, sports writer for the Dallas Morning News, captured the situation perfectly:
“These Cowboys deserve to be 1-3. What else can you say about a team that plays hard and loses? The problem with the Cowboys isn’t effort, it’s results.”
Which brings us to you, your team, and your company.
Accepting effort in lieu of desired results creates an environment where excuses justify mediocrity.
Think of it this way—you visit a restaurant and the waiter brings out the wrong order. You bring the error to the waiter’s attention and are met with this response, “The staff in the kitchen is working very hard. They put a lot of effort into preparing this dish, and you should appreciate that.”
Do you care? Of course not. Exceptional effort that yields the wrong result means nothing to you, and it means nothing to your customer.
Do This Now
Accepting exceptional effort as an excuse for not delivering results that matter to your customer and your business is a sure path to marketplace irrelevance. Here are two things you can do to prevent it.
1. Reinforce effort and recognize results. This sounds like a contradiction, but follow me for a moment. You need everyone on your team giving their maximum effort. They need to know that working hard is important, and they need to see that you are focused on results. Reinforce the specific effort that contributes to your goal. And, recognize the result. You can reinforce without recognizing, but you can’t recognize without reinforcing.
2. Don’t allow effort to become an excuse. The next time you hear someone say, “But, I’m working hard” respond with these words: I know that you are working hard to do your best, and I appreciate that. But, your effort isn’t achieving the desired result. So what needs to happen for you to deliver the result and work hard?”
You – like the Dallas Cowboys – are rewarded for results. Everyone works hard. If your exceptional effort is not yielding the results you want or need, it is time to stop using hard work as an excuse and start doing something different.
To quote a wise philosopher, “If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.”