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Management Endurance: Do You Sprint or Do You Pace?

Being a manager is a test of endurance. Much like running a marathon, there is a need to pace your effort to make it to the finish.

How in the world can you pace a situation that is day-to-day, in your face, and ever-present? Here are several answers.

Running the race
Courtesy 123rf.com

The Real Meaning of Endurance

Let’s re-set the true meaning of endurance. Wikipedia says this:

Endurance (also related to sufferance, resilience, constitution, fortitude, and hardiness) is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.

We’ve lost the core appreciation for what endurance means. Perhaps because of all our focus on sports, for most of us endurance means playing 4 quarters, or running the race, or winning the event.

No, endurance is the ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. There is no time limit on that definition.

As a manager, you may have an indefinite time scope to deal with. You have to perpetually finds ways to resist, withstand, and recover from the happenings of the day.

It’s Really Day to Day

We all deal with project plans, annual budgets, client delivery, and production schedules that impose clocks and calendars on us.

Yet execution is really just day to day. The plan is a critical piece of information to consider while we execute, but actual, “get the job done effort”, is day to day. Therefore, your need for endurance is ultimately only a day to day requirement.

Even the Bible encourages us not to worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will have worries of its own. Living and operating in the present, this moment right now, is all we have to do.

  • Do you have a mechanism for mentally processing the truth of the day?
  • Can you recover physically and mentally from the stress and strain placed on your body?
  • Is everyone OK? 

If you answered yes to all of those needs, you have an endurance framework that will get you through.

Break It Down

In the three questions above, I placed mental conditioning at the top of the list. My experience in many different situations tells me that is true. If I can mentally process what happened and is happening, I can better achieve a sense of balance.

A big part of mental strength is learning how to separate perception and reality. People above and below you will say things that sting. Do you allow the immediate perception of what was said to become your truth? Or do you evaluate the message with a keen sense of reality? As things happen around you, do you let perceptions become true or can you push them back into alignment with the reality of the situation.

All managers operate with some sense of fear. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are either lying or in denial. I think a healthy dose of fear is a natural way to protect us from doing ourselves harm. However, if you have not learned how to control that fear, you may easily let it take over when things start going wrong.  

Your mental process may be inclined to say “see, told you so, this was going to happen.” That is fear. No, you have to mitigate the fear by finding reality. What are the facts? What are the actual circumstances?

Some of the best leaders I have ever known had a keen sense of reality. They refuse to let the small voices in their head influence how they define truth in the moment.

Finding Recovery

Recovery is vital to sustained growth. When we exercise at the gym, our bodies need a recovery period. You cannot work the same muscles hour after hour, day after day without some time for recovery.

The work world is really no different. You have to find that break away time to allow recovery; both mental and physical.

Check my recent post about the science of recovery.

Were There Any Casualties?

I don’t ask this lightly. There are leaders I’ve known who have been combat veterans. You can imagine the gravity of having to ask this question after every operation.

In business, we usually don’t have actual body count (fortunately). But we do suffer other kinds casualties that impact our company, our people, and our role as a manager.

We can lose trust. Or lose customers. Lose an investment. Lose a valued employee or whole team.

How do you deal with those moments? Can you effectively regroup, reassess, and adjust the plan to move forward without suffering more casualties?

Summary

Management endurance is neither sprint nor marathon. It’s a day to day dynamic that requires mental capacity, discipline, focus, and drive to sustain.

Live each day in the moment. Don’t let fears about tomorrow cloud your judgment for right now.

Go back to the definition above. Endurance is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.

Go ahead. Dive in and endure!

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