Who Wins the Popularity Contest?

MH3 —  March 25, 2019

Just because your coach didn’t make you a starter, doesn’t make them a bad coach.

Just because your employee didn’t say what you wanted to hear, doesn’t make them a bad employee.

Just because the company you pitched didn’t pick your bid, doesn’t make them a bad client.

I think in many aspects of our lives today, we make bad judgements based on popularity as opposed to process and performance. The popular boss promoted you. The good boss focused on your performance and had a fair process to determine if you were ready for that promotion.

Making judgements and decisions based on output is so much more difficult than basing them on likeability. I like chocolate bars. I love Aero bars. I could eat one or two a day. Wash them down with a butter tart and then achieve a fully balanced diet by scarfing several oatmeal raisin cookies. Those foods are very popular with my stomach.

But while popular, the nutrition of those foods is not what I need. Nor do I suspect you need. You need performance. Your body does. Your mind does. Your heart does. Most importantly, your soul does.

In fact, you need performance in all aspects of your life. You need friends who will do their best to support you. You need mentors who will guide you. You need leaders who will light the path for you. You need customers who will be candid with you. You need colleagues who will row the boat with you.

Popularity has gotten us into trouble. Popularity is allowing us to elect leaders without ethics. Popularity is allowing companies to chase sales over safety. Popularity is allowing social media to replace real media.

It is time for us to put more emphasis on process, which will in turn provide more emphasis on performance.

Process is being purposeful. It is about being intentional. It requires us to examine the steps we are going to take and ensure they are ethical, respectful, and economical. Process requires an overemphasis on communication. Communication requires an overemphasis on listening. If you are not purposeful when you set out on any mission, you will wander aimlessly. Being aimless will easily result in your choosing the easy, shiniest, and most popular path.

The 100 metre dash is the most simple all of competitions.
One person says go.
Another person runs.
And another.
And another.
And another.
The first of those persons to cover the distance is the winner.
They get promoted. They get the raise. They get the trophy. They get the fame. They get the money.
The performance outcome is clear.

Unfortunately, much of life is not as simple as the 100 metre. Teams are picked based on judgement. Roles are assigned based on perception. Partners are selected based on fit.

However, if we look at those choices through the lens of the 100 metres, we all may make better decisions. We also may be able to deal with being the subject of those decisions better.

The desired outcome of all 100 metre runners is to go faster. The choice mechanism of all decision makers is to pick the fastest. But, what if we combine process inputs to help us make those decisions?

If we look at the process, we will be able to understand a lot about the runner. Are they a cheat? Are they a hard worker? Are they a good listener? Are they motivated? Are they improving? Are they willing to sacrifice?

Now we have a more robust picture of this person. Yes, the fastest is still important to us, but what if they cheated to get there? What if they have no potential to ever go faster? What if you discover they are unmotivated, and could actually be running faster?

Then who would you choose?

If you’re frustrated with the situation you are in, there is no value in blaming the decision maker. Or suggesting they don’t like you. You have a simple solve. First, you need to look at the performance metrics used in that decision. Then you need to look at the process for the decision.

Once you understand that, you can recalibrate your processes and approaches to achieve a stronger performance. A performance that will be validated by your efforts and enthusiasm. A performance that will be more important than popularity.

The 100 metres is a short, fast race. But it is the result of a life’s worth of effort. Better known as The Long Run.

One response to Who Wins the Popularity Contest?

  1. Love this. And of course the references to the track. Winning the race is a great indicator, but consistency is also equally as important. Do they have the heart and the stomach to keep stepping up to one line, and cross the other?