The Finish Line Always Moves

November 13, 2017
November 13, 2017 smz-blog

The Finish Line Always Moves

For nearly 25 years I’ve been entering runs of various distances. Now I’m trying bike riding and swimming, too. Sometimes I enter an event with a plan just to finish. Sometimes without any plan. Often, I’m bitten by the bug and it becomes about racing: trying to shave off precious seconds to cross the finish line faster. I know where that line is and I work, grind, flow, sweat – whatever to get there.

Recently I’ve been contemplating how different that is from work.

Sure, at work we have deadlines. But in our careers and job function, the actual finish line keeps moving. Not in a way where you see someone inching the line ahead in a teasing manner. But simply where we accept that a moving target is a good thing. One global agency even has adopted as their mantra, “Never finished.”

So how might we apply learning from the set-and-locked finish line world into the reality of the ever-sliding finish line? I suggest three ways:

(1) Even though the finish line in our “day jobs” keeps moving, occasionally we still need to spike the ball. That means we have to find big and small things to celebrate along the journey. Recently at SMZ we toasted Victor Spieles as he was promoted to creative director at the agency. No one better epitomizes the talent and effort required to work against a constantly moving line.

2) Colin Powell said, “Always focus on the front windshield, and not the rearview mirror.” Exactly. We have to put our energy into looking ahead. If the line is moving forward, excess energy wasted on what we didn’t do or the woulda’, shoulda’, coulda’ will only slow us down.

(3) Embrace the hills. Going up is hard and slow. Even on a roller-coaster. Yet the downhills are so sweet. You get a breather, a breeze and can coast, but only for a short while as there’s another hill up ahead somewhere.

There are finite games with a time limit and individual wins, and there are infinite games where we endlessly throw and catch ideas.

See you at the finish line. Wherever that is.

Jamie Michelson, President/CEO

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