The power of playing the long game by Sharon Pearson

Sharon Pearson on the power of playing the long game

If you want your business and life to soar, use benchmarks to reduce anxiety and increase success. Here's how and why.

Things that can suck me down a rabbit hole: watching back to back to back episodes of The West Wing until 2am. Reading (current bedside favourite: The Little Big of Big Change by Amy Johnson.) Exercising (two hours of working out to a podcast is bliss.)

Right up there with them is goal setting—one of my life’s cornerstones—and the power of playing the long game with things you care about.

You don’t go into a marriage thinking, ‘I’ll give this my all for two to three years’ or invest in learning to be a life coach then make no plans about how to use what you know.

With our businesses, my husband JP and I are playing for the long term and one thing I know is nobody can keep acting in a short term way.

We can’t set a fabulous new year goal because it makes us feel good, then have no plan for achieving it.

Short term fixes fail in life. That’s it. We’re sucked into the anxiety raised by, ‘I didn’t do enough so I better set something good so I feel really good.’

That’s just feeding the addiction, the neural net around, ‘I am not going to rise above this, I’m just going to stay connected and addicted to getting out of the anxiety.’

I’m coaching someone like that at the moment, who is on a hamster wheel of short term fixes and addiction. They don’t know how to just be, they don't know the power of playing the long game, and it’s causing them a lot of anxiety.

They’re hardly Robinson Crusoe though—I think a lot of people set goals to get themselves out of anxiety rather than really think where they want to be in a year’s time.

You have to put aside what you feel now, the fear of failure and idea that the year won’t be that great, and set the goal you’re going to love that you know you can take the steps to learn to achieve.

That’s really key.

It’s actually the key to The Coaching Institute. I play the long game. I’m not playing the ‘I’ve got to win now game’ … actually I do play that, but it’s not the game I’m playing.

Aiming to do really well right now helps the long term vision. You want to know how to write a book? Do five or ten pages a day.

It’s what you do every day consistently that will get you to next year feeling you have what you wanted.

Apart from goal setting and the power of playing the long game, I really value benchmarks. I believe what we measure we care about, and what we don’t measure we don’t care about.

It’s really simple. If someone says to me, ‘we’re aiming for this’, I ask how they’re measuring it. If they say, ‘We’re not’, then they’re not really for real.

Actually, I would go further. What we measure publicly we really mean. I’m not that big a fan of secret benchmarks, so there’s two versions: the process benchmark and the outcome benchmark.

The outcome benchmark is the lag measure. You achieve a number of sales or hit a KPI.

The process benchmark is all the steps on the way. Let’s say there’s five steps to a sales process: the initial lead comes in, then there’s how that first phone call is handled, how the email after that is handled, how the second call is handled and the follow up text.

Each of those gets benchmarked, so there’s how many people do I contact in 24 hours, that’s a benchmark and I have to hit it. How many great first conversations do I have—benchmark. How many people respond to my email or text—benchmark.

Benchmark all of it, then you have data telling you how someone cared or doesn’t know how to care about their responsibilities.

Award-winning businesswoman Sharon Pearson is the CEO and founder of The Coaching Institute and the bestselling author of seven books including Ultimate You. A global entrepreneur, Sharon is the host of the Perspectives podcast and has trained thousands of people to become life coaches since 2004.

Sharon Pearson
Sharon PearsonThe Coaching Institute