I played a round of Golf a little while ago with a couple of mates. We’re all not very good, but we’re trying. Sometimes very trying. As we were going, I observed some of my friends shots. The issue I saw was that they were afraid of going too far, or thought that their shots would go longer than they actually do. What happened as a result was that they would constantly have very weak shots that didn’t go very far.
For me, I think I come from the opposite angle. I think that my shot will always come up short, so I need to compensate for that. I have a vague idea of the length of each club (I’ve got new clubs, so I’m still getting used to the new distances), and as such it helps me choose the right club. But, in as many shots as I can, I try to use full (or as close to full as can remain in control) power. It will only be when I start overshooting where I think the ball should land that I will reconsider my approach – did I need less power, or a different club? The reason for this is that in Golf, you want to get to the hole in as few shots as possible. If you’re coming up short, that’s another stroke that you’re going to have to make.
Quite often in life we need to approach tasks with the same thinking. When you learn to do this, you get an understanding of what you are really capable of, and you can actually perform at your peak efficiency.
For example, in music, when teaching students a piece that is fast, say 140BPM. I would encourage them in their practice to push the tempo until they hit 160BPM. If they can play it accurately at that speed, then not only will they know that they can play pieces that fast, but when they back off the tempo back to 140BPM, it will feel a lot easier and they will have more time to think.
We can apply this principle to our working life. At times – preferably when it’s a slow period – practice pushing yourself to achieve tasks faster, better, more efficiently than normal. Normally write a business letter in an hour? Try do it in a half hour. Normally achieve a typing speed of 40 words per minute? Try type at 50 words per minute. Can you regularly complete a website design in a day? Try finish it by mid-afternoon.
What this does is teach us what we can do when we’re put under the pump. We pressure test ourselves, know how much we can handle when the pressure is really on. Then, when we’re not under pressure, we work more effectively because we’re not working at 100%, but instead 80%, with room for a burst if needed, or the ability to sit back and review what you’re working on as you go to make it better.
What are you going to overshoot on this week?