There are situations that call for a little extra effort. There are situations that will be fine with a just good enough approach. And there are situations where you will need to cut your losses and move on.
The Extra Effort
This past Saturday, Pierre Garcon, an Indianapolis Colts wide receiver, made the extra effort when a pass thrown his way was intercepted. At the time, he was the furthest player downfield and he could have easily let his teammates handle the tackle and head off the field until the next series. Instead of Baltimore having the ball and the chance to keep the game close, Garcon ran back, caused a fumble and helped Indianapolis keep the ball, subsequently leading to a field goal.
During my undergraduate career at Central Michigan, I had a B+ in one of my classes going into the final exam. I needed a 96 on the exam to raise it to an A, but only a 12 to maintain my current grade. Considering it was finals week and I could more easily make an impact on my GPA by focusing elsewhere, I studied just enough to maintain my grade. I went into the final, I answered 20-25 points worth of questions (just to be sure), turned my test in and called it good enough, allowing me to focus on other classes. Could I have put in the extra effort to get the A? Sure. But I thought my effort was better placed towards another class.
Cut Your Losses
There were reports this weekend of a Belgian First Aid team evacuating a Haitian field hospital, leaving patients behind due to security concerns. They did return the following morning. The situation in Haiti is awful and I don’t fully understand the issues at hand on the ground, other than that they are dire. The medical director made the decision he felt was right in this particular situation.
Most everybody has a default for his or her effort level. It’s important, however, to have some degree of balance between the three levels: extra effort, good enough, and cutting your losses. Always putting in extra effort can lead to burnout, but always cutting out and running from a challenge will cause others to question your dedication. The key is to make a reasonable assessment of the situation and choose the best approach, which may not be the easy way out or the way you have always done it. Whatever action you choose – extra effort, good enough or cut your losses – know that it will illuminate the perception others have of you.
What do you think? Make it a good day.
Mike Severy is the Director of Student Life at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. He views his work through the lens of student leadership development believing that students are developed over time through a series of meaningful experiences and that his role is to help students create and find the meaningful experiences in their lives. You can connect with Mike on Twitter (@MikeSevery).