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How to Stick the Landing Despite Uncertainty

How to Stick the Landing Despite Uncertainty

I was struck by inspiration when watching Kerri Strug perform as a gymnast in the 1996 Olympics. Kerri executed a vault routine landing flawlessly on one foot due to a badly injured ankle. She led the U.S. team to its first ever gold medal with that difficult landing.

My only experience with gymnastics was being able to do a back bend and cartwheels when I was 5 years old. So the theme of “sticking the landing” took on a whole new meaning for me when I saw what could be accomplished with complete determination.   

The business climate is fraught with uncertainty, or injured ankles such as broken cultures, organizational objective derailment, tough competitors. I am sure it is tempting to hide under the desk and hope it all goes away. But no such luck. As an executive, we must stick the landing when it comes to organizational objectives.    

Here are tips on how to stick the landing:  

Focus on performance and not scores. The Olympic team was trained to focus on performance and not on their scores. So the team had no idea how close they were in beating rivals in the pursuit of the gold medal.  They just knew what had to be done and did it.

A widely fluctuating market is a daunting challenger. But don’t let the noise distract your organization’s ability to perform. Determine what is considered good performance and then get it done.   For gymnasts, good performance includes strength, speed and agility and “sticking the landing.” What is considered good performance for your organization?

Get back to simple. When Olympic gymnasts train they do not use fancy equipment or weights. To build strength they engage in push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups. Have you ever noticed that sometimes we have a tendency to make things so complicated? Sometimes accomplishing a project is nothing simpler than moving Mount Fiji.   

Perhaps moving Mount Fiji can also be done utilizing shovels versus investing in capital expenditures of several dozen bulldozers. It may take longer but the objective can be reached. If there is objective paralysis going on, encourage your team to break down the project into bite-size pieces.  Find simpler ways to get what needs to be accomplished.

Involve people in solutions and cheer them on. An Olympic gymnast accomplishes nothing alone. Coaches, family support, teammates, and fans also carry the day.  Surrounded by support is how people can flourish in their role. Workplace champions involve team members in finding solutions and don’t forget to cheer on team members as they achieve goals.    

I remember a time when I first earned my certification. What really stood out to me was when my boss sent out an email to all those in the department congratulating me for the accomplishment. It was a simple action. But it made me feel good about the accomplishment and about the team. I felt energized in helping others to achieve their goals. I went on to teach some certification courses after that experience.

Are you having trouble thinking like an Olympian during these difficult times? Watch the Kerri Strug video.  Difficult times can be a "champion enhancing" experience. Be the one in the workplace that rises above the fear and pain of uncertainty and sticks the landing.

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Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, FACHE, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry. Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite ( HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result. She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.

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