105 mph is fast in just about anything: a car, a boat, or a baseball… and Aroldis Chapman can throw them that fast… Faster than anyone ever recorded in baseball. But on the final game of the best World Series ever, I noted one of the announcers commenting about the fact that Chapman may had been overused as a closing pitcher in the series and in the late innings of this final game, he appeared he was “sacrificing accuracy and location for speed.” A brutal reminder that speed is important, but it’s not everything.
Accuracy, skill, strategy, quality, and focus are equally as critical as speed in delivering baseball pitches or client service. I notice this tradeoff a lot out in the world and I’m guilty of it myself. I’m aware of my skepticism about quality when my waitress or cooking staff seem in a big hurry behind the scenes at a restaurant. I worry about accuracy when the hospital nursing staff seems overworked and maxed out while I’m waiting for a procedure. I’m concerned when my accountant’s assistant tells me they’ve been burning the candle at both ends during tax season but were able to “get yours knocked out late last night.”
I remember a dental client saying once that he only wanted his patients to feel like they ever caught him or his team on their most competent day… even when they hadn’t. What he’s rightly asserting is the notion that speed is often obtained at the neglect of accuracy and quality. And even if we are running at Mach 5 with our hair on fire… we’d be much better off never to say that to our clients, customers, or patients… and maybe more importantly, even to ourselves.
I’m as guilty as anyone. I just heard myself yesterday bemoan to a client that I’ve been swamped, stretched thin in my busy speaking season, and struggling to keep up. What does that communicate to my client? “I’m not prepared for my busy season? I don’t manage my time well? I’m not properly staffed? I’m not organized? I’m not rested and capable of performing at my highest level if she hires me in the Fall?”
And the worst of it is… by saying it over and over, I keep that story alive and well within myself. I keep reinforcing the reality that life is hard in the Spring and Fall and I’m unable to manage it well. The truth is I am always the one in control, making the decisions about the speed at which I run my life and my business and it’s up to me to make sure that my clients, customers, audiences, and loved ones only catch me on my most competent days… whether they actually do or not.
So this week, don’t give up accuracy, focus, quality and even your own enjoyment for speed. It will always catch up with you. And for your clients, make it a week of your most competent days…even if they aren’t.
“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.”
~~ Wyatt Earp