The Tennis Ball and the Targets

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Where did we make a mistake? What kind of a system did we build? Where did we give up being human and just begin to imitate? Where and when did we begin to think that living is merely breathing? How were we manipulated into thinking that this game was life itself?

I was working with one of my counselees. He was the CEO of a medium-sized corporation. He came to me because of the high targets the executive committee set for him. He and everyone in his team were working day and night to realize these difficult targets. The stress was apparent in their faces, and everyone looked tired. Most of them did not even remember why they were working so hard. They also did not know what they had been doing. Everyone in the company was focused on the target figures, and the only subject they talked about was the targeted sales figures, profitability rates, and productivity ratios. There were also bi-weekly meetings held by my CEO counselee. Everyone was curious about who would be embarrassed at the next meeting.

One of my friends told me how he practiced with his tennis trainer. He had been trained to make the right moves for the previous few months. They were not focused on directing the ball to the right place, but they were more interested in an excellent forehand series. His trainer did not even let him look where the ball landed. He only trained him in fulfilling his duty in the best way and becoming a master of it. His trainer always told him, “Directing the ball to the right place and winning the match is only possible and natural when you master the right moves.”

I can only reach goals if I do my job in the way that it should be done and improve along the way. If I perform the right actions, I do not need to worry about their consequences. If I do not get the results I hoped for, I ask myself what else I should do differently instead of sticking to useless strategies to achieve the targets. Over time, I master what I do, and I have a chance to make changes, evolve, and change all the rules.

When I told this story to my CEO counselee, he stared at me and said, “I enjoyed your story; explain it further.” He was also a good tennis player.

I asked, “You have ambitious targets, don’t you?”

“Yes,” he replied.

I then asked, “Okay then, who will reach these targets?”

He answered, “Me, the whole company, all of us!”

I questioned him further, “All right, you, the whole company, all of you… then what do you use to reach these targets?” But he didn’t get the question.

I elaborated, “Let me explain it differently: I like a quote from Don Miguel Ruize. He says that big dreams and big targets need big energy. Do you have this energy to help you reach these big targets, both as individuals and as a corporation?”

He replied, “I don’t know, but I think so, yes!”

I continued, “Okay, just think about yourself. How do you feel?”

He gave a deep sigh. I saw in his eyes the darkness of fatigue and the light of understanding as he said, “Exhausted and emotionally depleted with a full stomach but without any energy…”

I asked him, “So, where does your energy come from?”

He whispered his reply, “From fear, I think…The whole company is so afraid of not reaching the targets; I made all of these!”
I prefer silence now.

Yes, we went wrong somewhere. Reaching targets, chasing our desires, and realizing our dreams became like a horror film. This turned out to be the corporate culture, and we called this “motivation.” The only source of energy was fear, and we drained all the clean energy sources.

Yes, we made a very big mistake somewhere…



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