Skateboarder Teaches Us When to Think Twice

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Skateboarder Teaches Us When to Think Twice

Not that long ago my son attended a birthday party at a skate park. While the young kids rolled around and the older ones did impressive tricks, the even older folks watched from the sidelines. One of the dad’s in attendance mentioned that he was pretty good in his youth, but had recently learned that may need to take a different path.

He recounted standing on the lip of a ramp. The trick to “dropping in” is trusting that you and your board will travel together from horizontal to vertical and back as a team. The process seems impossible for a sane person. There is nothing holding the deck to your feet and nothing holding the wheels to the wall. If you think about it, it’s pretty obvious that you and the skateboard will simply fall to the bottom of the ramp or pool.

He said his brother called out to him and said, “If you have to think about it, you shouldn’t do it.” In other words, if you didn’t have the trust and confidence in yourself in doing it right, you were probably just going to get hurt. Of course, having that level of confidence is no guarantee of success, but without it the only option is failure. As he had gotten older this dad has also become sane. The challenge of reality had trumped the bravado of youth.

Compensation can often be like this. The CEO or head of Sales asks for something that you know CAN be done, but you are not sure YOU can do it. Sometimes we take a deep breath and drop in, trusting on our training and instinct. When we can’t do that, it’s time to ask for help.

I find this to stagnate many critical projects. A complete redesign of your pay structure can seem so big that you simply never truly get started. A new approach to incentive plans can seem so complex that we dodge the real task and create something vanilla with the hope that no one will notice (they will.) Improving sales compensation can be contentious enough that we simply leave it to the business development leaders to create their own plans. Finding a new compensation consultant when the current one has lost its edge can seem like far more work than you can give. All of these decisions are rational and sane, but none of them help you, your company or your employees.

Ask yourself why aren’t you just “dropping in” the next time you have not started, or delivered, on something hard. Maybe it’s not because you didn’t “have the time” or the right “executive buy-in.” Perhaps you are just sane and no longer want risk falling on your face. When it happens, start with a peer, a bring in a consultant or another specialist to provide a new perspective. We’ve all been there, and getting unstuck is amazing!

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