Five Steps Where Determination Equals Finishing

Determination was the third word on my list for Our Ho‘ohana for May; Ho‘omau and Be Strong.

To Ho‘omau is to reach inside yourself and grab hold of the stuff you’re truly made of. When you Ho‘omau, you are both confident and tenacious; you never give up. The driver in you gets it in gear and steps on the gas, propelling you forward. You have resolve. Stopping is simply not an option. More here.

At Ideal Strategies, Herman Najoli has a posting called, “Don’t just start, commit to finishing the race” which shares a wonderful story about determination.

Herman writes;

One of the most prestigious events of the Olympic Games is the Marathon – 26 miles – 385 yards of one of the most severe tests of human endurance. In the 1968 Summer Olympic Games, held in Mexico City, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania started with the other runners but fell way behind the leaders. At the finish line – the 100,000 plus spectators packing Olympic Stadium – cheered the winners of the race. Other runners entered the stadium and crossed the finish line to the cheers of the crowd. The race was over. Other events took place. Thousands of spectators had left. Then, one lone runner entered the stadium – John Stephen Akhwari. Akhwari’s pace was slow. His steps were wobbly. His knee was bloody and bandaged from a fall earlier in the race. He looked terrible. As He entered the stadium and began to slowly complete that last lap around the track the few remaining spectators began to realize who he was and what he was doing. As Akhwari slowly – painfully – crossed the finish line – they cheered – saluting the man’s determination. After the race, Akhwari was asked – what kept you going? Why didn’t you quit? Akhwari said, “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me here to finish.”

Herman continues his article by coaching us on ‘relentless dedication’ and ‘steady focus.’ Click in to read more here.

Finishing well is always a challenge for me; indeed, this is very much where determination comes in. To be determined, you must make a decision that connects to your intention, and then you must commit to it with an action plan that will see you through to the very end.

In my case, a huge part of determination is shutting out all other distractions so that I can have that ‘steady focus’ Herman refers to. I normally feel very good about my intention, always connecting it to my ho‘ohana in some way. I make quick decisions, and I love the energy boosts that actions taken give me, however I get interested in so many things I multiply the process and start something different before I’ve finished with my first decision. As a result, I weaken my determination in the worst way ”“ I justify it and table it for later. Not good.

Knowing this can be my determination trap, this is what I try to do within practicing Ho‘omau, the value of persistence, perseverance, and yes, determination and focus! When I am determined to finish well, invoking the power of Ho‘omau in my own practice of it, I will;

Plan the project at hand well, by calendaring each action step as realistically as I can. The two questions that David Allen taught me via GTD really help me with this:

1. Done/Vision: What is my best possible outcome with this? [in MWA Language, what is ‘Imi ola?]

2. Doing it/Mission: What does achieving that outcome involve? What does it look like, sound like, feel like, so I know I have listed all the Next Action steps involved?  [in MWA Language, how do I Ho‘ohana?]

I’m a planner, and for me it’s as simple as this: No plan, no action.

I keep that calendared appointment with myself, honoring it the same as if it had been set as an appointment with another person. This self-discipline has taken some time to cultivate, and what I am now learning about the Strong Work Week in our JJL Learning Project is really helping me fine tune my calendar in the way that makes me feel naturally strong ”“ great stuff.

When engaged in that appointment, I shut out all other distractions. I unplug my telephone and let the answering machine get incoming calls in another room, and put my cell on silent. I switch my computer offline because beyond the interruption, email and the web can open huge rabbit trails for me in my own fascination with it. Unscheduled time online is one of the things currently on my Stop Doing List to better habits. If the project doesn’t require my computer I turn it off altogether.

When that block of time is completed, I debrief with myself, making whatever calendar adjustments need to be made going forward. It used to be that I would keep going when I was in the flow with something, rescheduling things I felt were less important, but now I think twice about doing so: I will if the time is open in the next slot on my calendar, but not if it is booked ”“ even with another appointment with myself. The self-discipline of honoring my calendar the way I design it has become critical to my personal productivity, and I know that about myself. I must stay strong, and self-manage.

I celebrate when I finish well! The management lesson I often teach is this: Reward the behavior you want repeated, and I do so for myself too. My rewards take different forms, like a whole day “artist date” as recommended by Julia Cameron in her writing program, or simply buying myself something very extravagant ”“ like getting a massage ” mmm. So this works fabulously well in Stephen Covey’s “Begin with the end in mind” way too: When I want to make a big purchase, I designate it the reward for some project I haven’t finished yet, and I will not buy it until the project is done.

An example:
I recently made that reward connection with my Business Plan for my company, Say Leadership Coaching. I had previously shared with you that I am in the process of re-writing it using Greg Balanko-Dickson’s new book. Well, another decision I have made is that I will make the BIG MOVE from Windows to Mac during my next yearend sabbatical (absolutely love those new Mac-PC commercials! Brilliant marketing, but that’s not my only reason.) Therefore, the Mac Pro 15 is my reward for finishing the writing of my new SLC/Ho‘ohana Publishing Business Plan —and I plan on using the all of my Ho‘omaha 2007 (my yearend vacation and sabbatical) in the joy of learning to use it, and weaving it into my trusted work system. For me, that is vacation fun while the rest of my family is sleeping, night owls that they are!

And that said, I’m ending this just in time, for a work block on writing my plan is next on my calendar. Time to Ho‘omau!

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  1. says

    I love the concept of the Stop Doing List. This is a great post, Rosa. I hope you get opportunities to use this as the core of a presentation or speech somewhere because I can’t think of a manager, NGO or Church leader or self-employed person who DOESN’T need this whole process.
    Terrific stuff. (And Happy Birthday for April! :) )