Relentless Forward Motion


The concept of relentless forward motion is most commonly associated with ultramarathon training—a topic about which I admittedly know absolutely nothing. Among endurance athletes, the idea is putting one foot in front of the other, even when it seems impossible, even when it hurts.


At my age, I am unlikely to take up an extreme endurance sport. Quite candidly, I can think of few less appealing ways to spend my limited free time. Yet, I find myself attracted to the idea of consistently moving forward, even in the face of obstacles, delays and (metaphorical) pain. The concept is certainly applicable to the world of business.


Perhaps the reason I find the notion of relentless forward motion so appealing is because, at its very core, it is antithetical to the element of working in a traditional office setting that I abhor above all else: analysis paralysis.


Essentially, it’s the condition of over-thinking a course of action to the point that you actually never take any action at all. It’s when a company tries to think of all of the reasons it might fail, and allows those reasons to paralyze it from taking positive action. In this scenario, you actually over-analyze to the point where succeeding is overshadowed by negative thoughts.


Anyone who has worked in an office setting can conjure a memory of this plague. Countless meetings about a topic; Report after report about potential negative outcomes; Pros and cons lists that are pages long on the cons column; Conference calls to rehash the findings of the reports.
Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way suggesting that planning is a bad thing. Where I think many organizations go wrong is that they mistake interminable rumination for planning and strategizing.


There is a significant difference.


I see a lot of companies these days allowing news reports about political instability, offshoring, tight credit and predictions of a looming financial bubble to completely bring productivity to a standstill. Buying into the Chicken Little school of thought—“the sky is falling, the sky is falling!”—these organizations run in circles, talking about all the reasons why they can’t possibly succeed. Today’s 24/7 barrage of extreme left- and right-slanted, politically charged news only fuels this panic, and it can be dangerously contagious in the workplace.


The news cycle is essentially inescapable in the modern world. And, unless your skin is armadillo-thick, it’s pretty hard to remain unswayed one way or another by the background chatter.


Where the challenge lies for forward-thinking organizations is in learning what to absorb and what to ignore. And, perhaps more importantly, finding a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite the doom and gloom reports and the what-if disaster scenarios.
Staying laser-focused on an eventual successful outcome—growing your client base, perhaps, or launching a new product line—is the requisite fuel that’s needed to power your organization through the rough times.


Just like an endurance athlete starts each long race with the finish line in mind, that same dogged determination and willingness to just keep going even when it hurts is the path to success in business, as well.