Sunday, December 20, 2009

Don't Mistake Activity for Achievement

John Wooden at UCLAOne of my favorite quotes is from John Wooden, the greatest college basketball coach of all time.  He said, "Don't mistake activity for achievement".  I think about this quote a lot when I evaluate myself and my employees.

Just the other day, I had to give some rather harsh feedback to one of my employees which led to that employee getting less responsibilities at work.  The employee was not too happy with this (although for many employees it would be great news since all it did was give this employee less work) but I knew it was the right thing to do.  The difficult part was that this employee works extremely hard.  If extra hours are needed, this employee puts them in.  So how do you tell someone who worked hard that their work just wasn't good enough?

It was something I learned a long time ago in my own basketball experience.  Growing up, I spent hours practicing.  I would go to the local park and work on my jump shot until they turned off the lights.  But in the end, I just wasn't as good as the other guys on the team.  While they didn't practice as hard, they had more talent than I did.  The facts were that they didn't need to work as hard as I did because their talent and natural gifts naturally made up for it.

Sure it wasn't "fair" but when is life ever fair?  While I empathized with this employee, I have an entire organization to think about.  There was no way I could look past the fact that despite all the long hours and hard work this employee put in, they had not actually achieved the goals I had laid out for them.  I could not mistake their hard work for any actual accomplishment.

Have you ever been in this situation? One where you worked harder than anybody else but yet you couldn't accomplish what you set out to do?  How did you handle it when you came up short?


  1. Thanks for all the interesting posts. I quite like your views about the market so I hope you keep up with these posts and the good work!

    As one of the first readers i recall that your goal was to double the amount of 20000 dollars within a year. This year has now passed. Have you stoped working on that issue? How about a post related to this? How are the GoogleAds working out, and so on?

    Thanks a lot!
    Jones, Europe

  2. Hey Jones,

    Thanks for coming back and checking. Unfortunately, I gave up on that part of my journey long ago. When I originally started out I was living in very different circumstances. I ended up getting a new job with very different circumstances and just didn't have the time to devote to the quest as I original hoped for.

    I still continue to look for ways to make money outside my normal day job but this has definitely taken a back burner to my goal to double my money.

    Coincidentally, I've taken some time off from writing to gather my thoughts again and try something new. Not sure I'll try something as ambitious as doubling my money in a year, but I do want to try and do something.

  3. i can see what you are saying...I get that at my jobs too. I see the goal and make sure i reach it, but its always in small work relations. Meanings a little work, then the goal is met, on to the next one, a little work, done, and so on. I could never do the work work work work work work, goal met, work, work work....blah blah. I get very antsy, tired of the same thing and no accomplishment. But in other areas in life their appears to be no accomplishments. therefore my actual jobs follow the latter system. And my goal was to save up to go to school. so its job(va) job(va) school(ca) job job job. Its hard to work and remember school, but its always on your mind cause you're working to go to get away from that job. But I also Have FAS, so its even harder to reach my personal goals anyhow.

    tell him his 0-60 goal mph is slow, like hes driving a van(10sec). 60 being the goal, 0-59 being work...he needs to get his time to be of a Mustang Gt (5 sec) so his work will be 4.9 sec to 0-59 (work) to get to goal 60mph. if that makes since.