I find the last ten percent of any effort to be extremely difficult. It could just be me, but I do not think it is. As difficult as it is to get started, I believe it is every bit as difficult to finish. Success requires breakthrough energy.
The Red Zone
In American football, they call it the “red zone” – the last twenty percent of the field. Red is a significant color to me. When the dash on my car goes red, it usually means slow going ahead. In football, red means less field with which to work, defense packed in tighter space, the crowd roaring. The goal line is no longer a stripe on the field but a hulking psychological barrier. Maybe most importantly, the team on the drive has already expended a great deal of energy just to get there and must reach deeper still to complete the mission. The closer the team gets to the goal line, the more urgent, purposeful, and creative it becomes to cross it.
I will never forget the ’85-’86 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears using their 300 lb defensive lineman William “Refrigerator” Perry in the offensive backfield during their championship season. I believe the first time they used him on offense as a test, it was more of a mid-field play. Thereafter, it was inside the 10 yard line. Perry’s blend of power, speed, and agility were astonishing – blocking, carrying, and receiving for multiple touchdowns – including one in Super Bowl 20. He was a breakthrough energy source that was just hard to stop.
Red Zone For Businesses
My sense is that many small businesses are at that “make or break” stage right now. The pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our economy. What was assumed previously is no longer true for most industries. Business owners have fought to survive, holding on, yet reformulating plans and practices in the face of new realities. As we move into the PPP forgiveness stage, many will make final decisions to continue or not. Where do we find the power, speed, and agility to get to the other side?
I have been thinking about this quite a bit personally of late. One night a couple of weeks ago my wife and I had some excitement at our home. She had recently transitioned her father to assisted living and, in the process, inherited all kinds of family keepsakes – books, photos, family correspondence from 150 years ago. She also inherited an heirloom plant, the night blooming cereus.
Night Blooming Cereus
The night blooming cereus is a cactus plant. This plant belonged to my wife’s grandmother, then passed to her father. The plant is unique because it does bloom in the middle of the night, for just one night, and for certain species of the plant only one bloom per year. So, for the 35 years I have known my wife, it has been a big to-do when the Johnston’s night blooming cereus blooms! People call each other in the middle of the night, take photos, now send photos immediately by phone. It is a glorious moment. The blooms are exquisite.
This was our first year to have the plant. I was pretty sure we had it in a good spot. It looked healthy. Then, the excitement started – an emerging bud at the tip of a cactus frond. Throughout the evening, the bloom swelled to the size of tangerine. We checked on it about every 30 minutes, until well past our bed time. We did not want to blow the family tradition in year one. Eager, but desirous of our sleep, we went out to take a closer look – was it really going to happen? We got our flashlights out and peered down into the pot. While not yet fully blossomed, what we saw was amazing – the bloom was vibrating!
We felt like it may need a moment of privacy for the final push – kind of like, “who is in the delivery room for childbirth?”. Thirty minutes later, there it was – the Johnston night blooming cereus bloom! Whatever that plant went through in its cellular structure to make it happen, it was well worth the trouble. It struck me that even though the plant was doing exactly what it was supposed to do, it still took that kind of energy to fulfill it, all focused on one tip of the plant. By mid-morning the next day, the bloom had withered. The Johnston night-blooming cereus had already started gathering itself for its next big moment.
Getting Through It To Something Beautiful
I cannot speak for you, but I know I am in the middle of a big moment right now. The two big questions I face every day are 1) Are you doing what you are uniquely designed and gifted to do? And 2) Have you started shaking with effort yet? Until I hit that point, I know there is more to give to get through this crazy time. I know we are all capable of doing much more than we ever think.
We find energy in many places – fear, anticipation, love, hate, service or self-preservation. I believe some are more enduring than others. I hope you find the right kind, in the right amount, to break through whatever your challenges are today. It’s a season, like many other seasons. Our coaching services will help you find the way.