Win The Day
September 1, 2015
Endless reminders are everywhere: strategic, long range, annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly planning. All fine, all necessary, and yet there's so little emphasis on "winning today." From informal staff sessions to board meetings, fewer people seem truly prepared for the terpsichorean whims of the situational "today." Let's make something clear: by winning the day we're not talking about getting our way, manipulating the room or pushing a counterfeit agenda. To "win today," our singular objective is to make a difference, carry an important concept so that eight hours later, we leave the day better than we found it.
NBA Hall of Famer -- and one of the classiest people ever to play the game -- Bill Russell almost always won the day. "I had scouted my opponent so completely I knew his tendencies, favorite moves, weakest and strongest floor attributes, so that by the time we played the game, I had already won." Bill Belichick began scouting football games with his father at age 10. Viewed by his peers as a football savant, Belichick learned to notice the smallest signals; finite clues to a player's tendencies. In his early twenties he was already on the NFL radar; noticing for example that when a certain offensive center's right knee bent an inch to the right before snapping the ball, the following play would always be a motion-right. His coaches and players learn it daily.
More and more, people are missing the obvious: from preparing to do a show, editing a music log a second time, thinking about their contribution to a meeting, or potential solutions to a tactical challenge, there is a prevailing sense that winging-it is good enough. And it is, if simply making a few comments at a meeting is one's idea of a daily win. UCLA wizard John Wooden exhorted his players to improve every day -- to make that practice a masterpiece. "Too often we get distracted by things out of our control. You can't do anything about yesterday. By becoming a little better today, you will become a lot better," said Wooden. If a player was dogging it in a given practice, he'd be reminded that he couldn't make up for it tomorrow.
So, all the talk about yearly strategic planning is valid and crucial but unless you're winning the days within that plan, it's only that … a plan. Our ADG team is often asked how we manage our time; flying 100,000-plus miles a year, countless meetings, seemingly endless analysis and perhaps our most important time/effort allocation, working with programmers and talent: "how do you manage it all?" Our answer is unchanging: Your true adversary is time -- not competition, not regulation, not the economy … but TIME.
There are always multiple forces at work that can impact the media business but many of them are out of our control. The best any of us can do is treat today as the short term movie frame it is: What meeting, decision, outcome, will we have the opportunity to impact today? We hear an avalanche of talk about conserving everything from energy to resources, but the top-gun leaders we know and emulate know the real secret; conserve time!
Go into an agenda, a meeting or just an informal planning session with specific ideas on what you can contribute to an improved, positive outcome. If a thing is worth doing, it's not only worth doing well, but it might have been worth more had it been done yesterday.