High heels, stairs, and an accomplishment-based approach

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Nancy Q. Smith, Director, Strategic Partnering

The morning of June 16th, I left my hotel room in Statesville, NC headed to work with a great HR organization dedicated to becoming better. I decided the hotel elevator was too slow and headed for the stairwell.
Four steps down, in high heels, I slipped, wrenched my ankle and landed on my shin. My good-natured clients were sympathetic when I admitted I needed to put my leg up because I fell down the stairs. They got me ice packs, taught me that numbness is not a good sign even if it makes persevering easier, and helped me to medical care. They even taught me how to walk in crutches!
A week later, back in Michigan, my foot was red hot, the swelling severe, and my ankle had disappeared completely. I was admitted to the hospital and spent five nights with cellulitis and suspected compartment syndrome.
Six months later there are still problems. Redness has subsided, but bruising, swelling, numbness and pain are my companions.  I may need surgery. (This is the ankle I was already embarrassed over since it was slightly larger from a fall I suffered on my 18th birthday.)
That June morning I’d gotten it all wrong. I committed to the action of going down the stairs. What I didn’t do was commit to the accomplishment of arriving successfully. If that were my focus I would have done things differently – stepped more carefully, worn different shoes on the stairs, or even taken the elevator.  You see, even though in my work I help organizations shift from solutions to results and from tasks to accomplishments – that morning, I’d forgotten it.
My challenge to you is…are you action versus accomplishment focused? What is at risk as a result of that? The accomplishment-based approach isn’t just important when you analyze and improve the design and results produced by key roles like we do for our clients at Exemplary Performance; this approach transformational for individuals as well. It helps clarify the critical what and why before getting caught up in the how. I live with my painful reminder of what it cost me to forget it.
What valuable accomplishments or outputs should your day consist of? Where are your opportunities to shift your focus to deliver greater value? By truly embracing this philosophy, you really do have the opportunity to achieve stronger performance and superior results in all aspects of life. Time is our scarcest resource. This shift in mindset enables us to invest time…not just spend it.

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