Hand me that jump rope

By Jane Stabile

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You’ve heard the experts tell you, “before starting this fitness program, check with your physician… blah, blah, blah.”Why would anyone do that?We already know everything about our current state, and focusing on where we are now delays the implementation of our self-improvement plan. Focusing on the future is inspirational and exciting!Focusing on our current state is depressing and a large bore.

After many months of the same old (read light and occasional) workout routine, I decided to step up my game.I needed a harder workout so I could burn more calories and maintain my business-travel-eating-out lifestyle without suffering the inevitable consequences.In other words, business as usual, but looking and feeling better.Having watched several infomercials on getting into shape in only 30 days, I knew that that should be my goal—whip myself into shape in 30 days.I didn’t need a video or a trainer, though, since I already knew exactly what to do-I used to follow a rigorous exercise routine many (many) years ago, which involved jumping rope, martial arts kicks, jumping jacks, etc., so I would just go back to that.

During the first 5 minutes of jumping rope, I was surprised at how many times I tripped up.Maybe this was not the same type of jump rope I used to use?No worries, I pressed on to the other exercises I had planned, cutting back on the duration as I noticed that things were taking longer--maybe this wasn’t the same kind of watch I used to use—but I was wearing out faster.

Later that day, I decided to walk, rather than drive to the dentist to burn a few more calories.Sure, my foot seemed a little sore from the morning, but “pain is just weakness leaving the body” say the fitness gurus, so off I went.

Two days later, after my x-ray results came in at the Urgent Care Center, a young and sincere doctor discussed my sprained foot with me and explained why she was recommending crutches for 5-7 days.When weakness left my body, it took my ability to walk unassisted with it.

Sitting at the airport in a wheelchair, hugging my crutches, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels in my fitness project approach to the approaches we sometimes see at our clients.You know you need to be more efficient—leaner and meaner—so you get the senior people together and discuss the approach.You may bring in a few vendors for demos, and listen as the salespeople relay glowing testimonials from clients who, after only a few months time experienced fantastic results.It all sounds great, and if other firms whipped themselves into shape quickly, so will you.

As I write this in a little, paper notebook (my laptop is in the overhead bin, so forget that), I offer a word of caution.When your firm was younger and trimmer, it was fairly easy to implement changes within a tight timeframe.Existing weak spots within the structure were minor and didn’t hamper your firm’s ability to execute.Many successful years later, your (ahem) assets have grown.Your firm is more complex in both people and processes.Before you commit the firm to the rigors of an accelerated implementation, have a realistic discussion about your current state, and build your plans to accommodate the strengths and weakness of your firm as it exists today.Otherwise, you may find that the gaps in your current state, subjected to the rigors of a mad dash to the goal, can set you back further and leave you limping—pass the crutches.