5 Rain Delays To Beat Like a Wimbledon Champion
One of my favorite young tennis players, Sloane Stephens, just lost her Wimbledon quarterfinal match against Marion Bartoli. Sloane began the match playing confident tennis, but then that dreaded Wimbledon momentum killer derailed her: rain delays. Sloane came out of a 2 1/2 hour rain delay “a different player”, and the new Sloane Stephens could not overcome the distractions.
As professionals, we all experience our own form of “rain delays” throughout our careers. Here’s a look at 5 rain delays, or effects of rain delays, and how to combat them. Which of these rain delays have you experienced, and what new ones would you add to the list?
1. Rain Delays – Technology
Perhaps I see more of this particular rain delay since I’m an executive for a software solution provider. Technology is a great enabler that adds efficiency and productivity to our work processes. It can also become a crutch that fails us at the most crucial times! We’ve all experienced email server outages, hardware failures (umm, you did remember to backup your files, right), and catastrophic software bugs in development platforms that halt our own software development efforts.
Beat the Rain Delay: When technology fails, you better have backup and contingency plans! Tennis players may go with a “Plan B” strategy change. If your email fails, pick up the phone. Let those clients hear your voice, and use this rain delay to your advantage by arranging a face-to-face meeting. When you encounter a software bug, recognize you LIVE to provide solutions – get creative with workarounds.
2. Rain Delays – Lack of Resources
Many small companies and entrepreneurs struggle with “cobblers shoes syndrome”. They are so busy providing high quality solutions for everyone else that their own infrastructure and internal initiatives suffer. Copywriters never get around to upgrading the blog like they’ve been meaning to do for weeks/months. A software solution provider has grand plans for a corporate website redesign, but they just won a major new client who needs a website PRONTO. And happy major new clients pay the bills, folks – we’ve lasted this long without our own website design…what’s a few more weeks/months?
Beat the Rain Delay: If you are doing business right, there will ALWAYS be that major new client. But how many new clients aren’t finding you because you never took the time to execute on that content marketing and SEO strategy? Just like a professional tennis player has to “go back to the practice court” to add new strokes and evolve their games, we need to “go back to our task backlog” and evolve our business by firmly committing the appropriate resources.
3. Rain Delays – Inertia
Inertia is the “tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight line motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force.” One of the worst organizational rain delays we can encounter is the resistance to change! Sometimes the resistance comes in the form of “we’ve always done it this way – why change”. I’ve seen other instances where mid-level management has gotten caught up in individual organizational success (kingdom building) versus the corporate vision of overall company success.
Beat the Rain Delay: The best way to beat this rain delay is to have a strong executive team. Small businesses can fall into the trap of making tactical decisions versus stepping back and evaluating strategic opportunities. Tactical decisions are absolutely necessary to survive as a company; however, it is the strategic decisions that help a company to grow, adapt, and flourish. Executive teams should make a concerted effort on a weekly/monthly basis to evaluate strategic opportunities to change the organization for overall company success.
4. Rain Delays – Mental and Emotional Fatigue
We’ve all experienced burnout, right? It is hard to maintain a high level of energy, for long periods of time, without knowing your next opportunity to get refreshed. During a Wimbledon rain delay, you do not know if you will be back on the court in 15 minutes – or 3 hours. The Isner/Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships took 11 hours and 5 minutes that spanned 3 days!! How do you stay mentally engaged and strong for three days? When do you eat? When do you warmup with the expectation that you are going to be on the court any minute now?
Beat the Rain Delay: Take whatever “catnaps” you can when having to maintain a high performance edge. Everybody has to eat, right? Walk around the building to gain different perspective on a tough problem. Grab a quick workout, or just put on a good song playlist…close your eyes…and let your mind wander. Be intentional with your downtime in the evenings and on weekends. We all have peaks where we need to go “above and beyond” to deliver, but we cannot maintain those peaks indefinitely. If you redline your engine for too long, it eventually locks up and becomes scrap metal. Make time to just “idle”.
5. Rain Delays – Competitor Adjustments
When Wimbledon competitors experience an extended rain delay, they can go back to the locker room and consult with their coaches. This allows the players to adjust their strategy based upon how their opponent is playing that day. Here’s the equalizer, though: their opponents are talking to THEIR coaches, too. When play resumes, victory goes to the player with the best adjustments and adaptability.
Beat the Rain Delay: Perhaps your latest product release introduced incredible innovation. Maybe your latest keynote speech or white paper truly resonated with the audience and generated a strong upsurge in business and perceived thought leadership. Your competitors will make adjustments based upon your success! Prepare for those adjustments with a willingness to adapt – and never rest on your laurels. Sometimes you will find it necessary to adjust to your competitors’ successes. However, if you are already the front runner, continue to innovate and push the envelope of thought leadership. Always…ALWAYS…look to “widen your lead” on your competitors by staying hungry for success.
I hope Sloane Stephens has better success the next time she comes out of a rain delay, and I hope YOU beat your rain delays and come out a champion!
Photo Credit: Rain Delay by Swiv, on Flickr