I played high school tennis with a coach who was a former pro. His words were drilled into us and still ring in my head today: “Hitting a shot well is a requirement. Hitting it hard is not.” He taught the lessons of good form, hitting the ball with proper spin, and placing it where your opponent was not. Hitting hard wasn’t something he preached as that approach lead balls going long or into the net.
Even though it’s been many (many, many) years since I last played, I picked up a racket over the weekend and played a set against a friend. He hit the ball a lot harder than I did, but his shots went long at least 50% of the time. I eventually won and as we laughed about our sub-par performance, he said “I just like hitting it hard and hoping for the best.”
That comment got me thinking; how many times have you heard “Let’s hit it hard, people!!” It’s a battle cry to promote a sense of urgency and get things moving. Some equate hitting it hard to being productive. Hitting it hard equates to getting it done.
But is hitting it hard the right approach? Are you getting the right things done? Wouldn’t you rather be more prescriptive and tactical in completing tasks? Could hitting it hard actually cause you more work by not looking where you ultimately want to go? By going hard, are you also going long and missing the mark?
Next time someone says “Hit it hard,” think about what they want to ensure you’re doing the right work and not just blindly swinging. Many projects just fire away without a definition of done or requirements defined. That can cause work to go long or into the net and stop. Doing work well, in a prescriptive and tactical manner, should be a requirement.