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On the edge of "The Black Hole"

August 30, 2006

I was thinking yesterday about how hard it has been the last month or so staying focused on both my short term tasks and my long term goals. I could feel my confidence slipping in my skills (both hard and soft). I tried to remind myself why maintaining focus and positive attitude is important, but was having a hard time getting it to sink in.

Jeff Angus has come to the rescue with a new post about the process of struggling and pulling through. While it is geared towards management, he starts out with an observation that is useful for anybody struggling through a rough situation, but unable to break out of it:

In some work, ego (in this use, the sense of self) plays a major role in performance. An employee failing at something new, or getting rejection in an area of past success, can implode into a cycle of loss of self-confidence, triggering behaviors that reduce the chances for success, reinforcing the implosion like a demented Maximillien Schell mad professor moment in Disney’s epic “The Black Hole

Looking straight at the drop; you have to work extra to “manage yourself“. I have been moderately successful in my work, but I can tell I am not performing up to my standards and could feel my focus and confidence slipping. I have had dozens of little work issues that just kept cropping up and overwhelming me. I could feel the Black Hole approaching.

Normally I would take this as an opportunity to re-examine what I am doing to manage myself, but Mr. Angus gives me another option; relax first and stay focused on the goals:

you can see the contributor is staying on an even keel, still alert, still trying, focused on getting better. That requires a healthy dose of Third Base in the MBB Model on the part of the individual. The player has to realize enough about ego to break the cycle…

Nick Markakis has a truly awful start of the baseball season, but maintained a positive attitude and worked hard to improve. His attitude has paid off. He has turned his season around. Staying focused on long term goals and working to get better brings me back to one of my favorite quotes (baseball or not) by Branch Rickey: “Luck is the residue of design”. I won’t be ready to move forward if I am not preparing now.

The short of all of this is that I will stay focused and work towards my goals. Rely on my skills and hone them. Seize the opportunities when they arrive, like turning on a fastball and hitting a home run (at least a stand-up double).

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