What your people are going through


By George W Nyabadza

THE best applications of effort are usually manifest as people respond to observed or imagined dangers to the physical self. The same kind of mental response occurs

when the mind perceives something as being a possible danger. Call it adrenaline or just fight response to real or perceived harmful stimuli, the fact remains that human beings have been observed and have reported significant levels of extraordinary performance in threatening situations. Everyone prefers to function in a safe and predictable environment, where the risks associated with a particular course of action may be calculated and go or no go decisions made consciously.


It’s like knowing that a certain route from the city back home is not safe after midnight. You know the risk and the possible consequences of taking that route. It may be shorter but there is a price to the distance and time saving. If you take that route your physical and mental awareness is heightened by the possibility of danger, every movement about you is noticed and appropriately judged as you move along.


You notice things that you normally do not notice: the vehicle that seems to be following you; the people that seem to be walking too close to the roadside; your radio all of a sudden appears too loud (despite the fact that you always play it at volume level 5) and so you turn it down to a whisper; and of course, now you notice that voice in your head warning you over and over again to keep your eyes open).


Adrenalin is coursing throughout your body, fuelled by real and imagined perceptions of danger to yourself. If you were to stop and analyse your physical and mental responses you would notice that all that’s really happening during the journey along the dangerous short cut is that you have shut out every other reality from your conscious awareness and channelled all your mental and physical energies to the objective at hand: getting home safely. When you concentrate on a task and bring all your faculties to bear on it, you begin to notice every single detail within its construct that may or may not aid you in its achievement.


I would like to advance a thesis that life as it was in Zimbabwe say five to 10 years ago was pretty predictable in terms of its construct. Whether one was planning the next family vacation or involved in a medium- to long-term strategic planning session, it would be accurate to say there was a certain element of predictiveness in the flow of social and corporate dynamics, where one’s greatest concern was to find an economist who could give a reasonable forecast of inflationary growth. Today’s dynamics are radically different; you have the same chance of getting an inflation target from an economist as from a prophetic witchdoctor – it’s really anybody’s guess.


The reality of today’s social and corporate existence is similar to perpetually navigating through that risky and dangerous route home. Anything can go wrong, drastically; you just don’t know what it is. You have to bring all your physical, mental and emotional energies to bear on the task at hand. It’s not about surviving this one journey tonight, but it’s about surviving until the chaos comes to an end, whenever that will be.


It’s not just about you, it’s everyone in your organisation that is experiencing this adrenalin rush; every father, son, daughter, mother knows that unless they focus on the now they may not be alive after the next few steps. This is pure survival that demands complete focus. If you can only bear this in mind when you next talk to your people, you will become relevant to their lives and their commitment to you and the organisation will rise. Vision drives you but surviving through the chaos drives them. But here is the bonus point, their levels of performance during the drive to survive, will be significantly higher than you can ever motivate them to achieve. All you have to do is tap into it.


l South African-based George W Nyabadza is the chief executive officer of Achievement Success Dynamics International. For more information on leadership development programmes please visit our website www.achievement-success.com or e-mail George on info@achievement-success.com

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