Mistake #3: I was only focused on the outcome...

"Profit isn't a purpose, it's a result. Purpose is the reason we do the thing that makes the profit." -- Simon Sinek

I love goal setting. There, I said it.

I love the idea of having something to chase. It keeps me motivated and pushing along until I’ve achieved my goal.

For instance, the now defunct Mercedes Marathon, I’ve set a goal to run it in the past. Twice actually.

The first time I ran it must have been back in 2012. I remember setting the goal during the transition of my first divorce. I lived in an apartment in Fultondale and decided (after two weeks of laying on the couch bingeing the entire Battlestar Galactica reboot) I was going to get up and do something.

I had stepped on the scale and glanced down at it. It said 359lbs - the largest I had ever been in my entire life. It was at that moment I said to myself “never again” and I got moving.

I went to Black Creek Park and started walking… the shuffling… then running. I promise you you’ve put in at least 200+ miles in on that track.

Slowly but surely I started putting my training plan together. Asking friends for advice who were runner and others who worked out all the time. I wanted different perspectives on training for my first half. I had no idea what I was doing, so I wanted to learn about everything… and everything that could happen.

I wouldn’t say my nutrition was “dialed in”, but it was definitely better than what it had been. Again, going after information, asking friends and doing research, I settled on three Eggs and a strip bacon for breakfast, spinach for lunch, and chicken and veg for dinner.

I think I dropped 40-50 pounds from about August 2011 to Feburary 2012. I felt so much better. I felt my body moving - almost enjoying it!

My average mile time was close to 10 minutes for a 5 k run. And I wasn’t scared of running the half - I was pumped. I figured with my pacings I could complete the race in about three hours, which I would be VERY happy with!

Moving my body like that, moving through our amazing city of Birmingham like that, the people surrounding and supporting us as runners like that… it’s something I wish everyone was motivated enough to experience.

I ended up finishing the race in 2:44 (hrs:min), shattering what I thought I could do.

I keep that medal in a dear and special place. That medal means something special to me.

So does the second medal I earned, but for completely different reasons.

The second time I ran the Mercedes was probably about 5 years later. Life had moved on, I was busy in another job. But I set the goal and committed to, signing up about 2 months out. I wanted that second medal. And it’s a great story to say “hey, I can just pick up and do this once every 5 years, no problem”. And I am a sucker for a good story.

Two months is plenty of time to train. But I didn’t really have time to train as hard as I previously did. I kept telling myself, “I’ve already done it, I’ll get to training later”. Or that “I know what it takes, I can really just show up”.

And to treat myself, I even picked up a new pair of Brookes running shoes. I loved the bounce they had to them.

I think I got maybe two training runs in before the race - one 5 miler and one 8 miler. Mind you that previously my longest training run was about 11 miles. It had been the first time I did the whole 13.1 miles.

Fast forward to the day of the race. Same pre-race energy, half the pre-race planning. I’ve got this right?

So, I start the race and things were going great. The energy was just as intoxicating as it had been years ago. I was pacing about the same as before, maybe even 10-15 faster per mile. I was going to crush my last race time!

If you’re a running, you see exactly where this is going. Right into the wall.

For those who aren’t runners, you may not have experienced this. If you’re a Crossfitter or HIIT person, you can probably relate too.

When working out at a high intensity level, there is a “place” where you stay away from. It’s where you know that if you push yourself into that place, you WILL pass out or hurt yourself. It’s hard to explain. But, simply put, it’s a black place known as “the Wall”.

Somewhere between mile 8 and mile 9, I hit the preverbal wall. Hard.

My pacing shifted back over a full minute. Everything started to hurt. Bad. Even the gummie bears they were giving us weren’t helping.

Yup. I hit the wall. And I was in for it.

The final 4 miles of that race were the hardest and worst run I think I’ve ever run in my life.

I pushed through and was able to finish, but it was only my sheer force of will. And I was absolutely destroyed. For DAYS afterwards. I wouldn’t normally dream of calling in sick (just not who I am), but I did that Monday.

But I had set the goals, and I was going to accomplish it, come hell or high water. Damn the consequences. After all, I was focused on the outcome, the goal. That’s all that matters, right?

Well, not exactly, no.

The difference between these two races was simple… it was my purpose. In the first one, my purpose was to get up and do something… anything.

Completing the race was the result of me getting off my ass and doing something. Hell, it may have just been one of the things I just happened to see on Facebook one random Thursday.

In the second race, I just picked a random goal with little to no motivation behind it. I just plowing through left me in shambles for days. And, honestly, to what benefit? I didn’t really have a purpose behind, it was just some arbitrary goal that would go great with the line, “yea, I do a half about once every 5 or so years”.

Had I been honest with myself, I would have had the discussion with myself. I would have told myself it wasn’t really that important to me. And that it’s ok to NOT achieve a goal if it doesn’t really have any meaning for me.

Yes, that medal still means something to me. But it doesn’t mean as much to me, for sure. It only shows that I’m hard headed and will plow through something if I really decided to.

Knowing the purpose behind something is more motivating then just having something arbitrary to reach for.

We see it often in today’s corporate culture. An arbitrary is placed in from of an ‘everyperson’ office worker and they are told, “Accomplish this goal”. And the everyperson sets out to attempt to do the job of reaching the goal or meeting the numbers.

No discussion. No context.

I was at our local ISSA chapter meeting yesterday and this very same topic came up in a slightly different way.

The topic was “Creating Security Champions” - in essence, the presenter (Chris Ruggieri) was communicating that security not just an “IT” problem, it’s an “organization” problem and that you need security-minded champions on ALL teams (Finance, BizOps, Marketing, etc) to be able to communicate and indoctrinate a security culture throughout an organization. And that this initiative, as most initiatives must do, has to starts from the top.

Basically, if the executive doesn’t buy in, it’s not going to happen.

But as Chris was talking, he would talk about executives and how they roll out new projects and ideas. The running joke in the room was “we signed this contract for a new thing today (Friday) and it needs to roll out by Monday. We can do that, right?”.

What Chris was pointing out (which I confirmed with him after the talk) was something that had already been rolling around in my head all week.

More often than not, the discussion is more important than the outcome

—Me, Daniel Walters

Too many time, executives and leaders within a company get overly focused on the result or outcome they are trying to drive. And try as they might, they develop and roll out a new initiative or outcome by themselves or with one or two others. But never consult the subject matter experts (SMEs) within their organization.

They forget to look at a problem from all sides and end up just looking at the sides that are convenient for them. Or worse, they fall victim to the “Dunning-Kruger effect” - thinking they know enough about how something works to be able to do it themselves without consulting that department.

This is especially when it comes to interrupting the processes that are already in place for their company.

They don’t realize that details matter. They are too focused on the outcome. They forget their purpose.

It’s the discussion they are choosing not to deal with, for whatever reason they have. In my experience, many times they don’t want to have to deal with the pushback from certain people or departments.

But what these leaders don’t realize is that they are cashing in on what little political and relational capital they have with their team. And when that team’s capital inevitably runs dry, people leave and the team shatters.

What these leaders doesn’t get it is just how easy it is to actually BUILD those capital reserves up.

Yes - addressing departmental or individual concerns takes time and (let’s be honest) can be very draining. Especially dealing with personality and communication differences. For instance, tech and IT tend to have more autistic people and communicators, which can be difficult for executives to have the patience and understanding to deal with.

I’ve struggled with this very thing for many years. There have been a couple of positions that I’ve held where the executives tended to find communicating with me (because of my trauma, reactions, and communication style) difficult and a roadblock. This kept me out of many strategic and leadership-level conversations (and positions) would have benefitted the organization greatly.

It’s take a lot of time and “AuDHD-tok” to understand and come to terms with how I communicate. Especially in a world that is seemingly unwilling to understand and bend to adjust.

However, there have been some bright spots. I’ve have been working directly with my CEO on my communication styles and tendencies. This has enabled us to have more free-flowing communication between my department and his overall view of the company. Additionally, it has helped me to be more a strategic thinker when it comes to others within the organization.

At the end of the day,

The Lesson Learned: If you know the purpose, let that drive the discussion with yourself and others. No matter how difficult, the most important part of making a decision is having the discussion with everyone involved.

If it’s not, double check and make sure you left your ego at the door.