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Stretch Goals and Ninja Kicks

Stretch Goals and Ninja Kicks

by Frank Roche on October 15, 2006

in Motivation, Performance

Karate Tournament

My son, Steve, competed in a regional karate tournament today. He earned three trophies in three black belt division tests and won first in the sparring competition with some well-placed back fists to the heads of his opponents. But I’m most proud of his third-place trophy in “forms.”

“Forms” are a complicated series of moves that have very specific requirements for karate technique. Competitors often spend months learning a form that they demonstrate. It’s easier to compete with a lower level form that’s been practiced for a long time than it is to try a much harder upper level form that was recently learned (a degree of difficulty issue). In Tae Kwon Do, repetition and muscle memory are essential. But so is reaching farther than you think possible. Steve’s form, Bil Syung, involves a sequence of hundreds of moves. He learned it last week.

Steve did a great job. He tried hard and did his very best. And came in third in forms. I’m really proud of him for going for it. He’ll win next time, of that I’m certain. His effort made me think: Would I rather have an employee who does a great job on the basics, or one who really goes for it but comes up just a little short? And how in the heck would that come out on a performance rating? We know that a lot of people chose to sandbag. That’s the easy way out. But I say give me a room full of Steves, who stretch it out and go for the big ninja kicks. They’ll get themselves – and your business – a lot farther ahead. Chop-chop.

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