I like football. I played in high school and continue to watch the game today. My favorite position to watch is the offensive leader; the quarterback. Those steely-eyed missile men need to lead their teammates, remain calm under pressure and be able to adjust quickly when plays don’t quite go as planned.
Quarterbacks have a 6th sense for things around them (like 300 lb defensive tackles and angry linebackers wanting to rip their heads off). When the ball is snapped and they drop back for a pass, an internal clock instantly starts ticking. They can sense danger closing in around them. They know immediate action is needed or they’ll get sacked and lose yards.
I’ve heard quarterbacks and announcers talk about this “internal clock”, and how it develops over time and with experience. This internal clock is there to keep quarterbacks out of trouble as well as not let the team lose yards. It lets them know when bad things are about to happen and the play needs to be done.
Now let’s shift the internal clock discussion from football to something we all experience; meetings. I’m sure you’ve had meetings where they just keep going on and on. Then all of the sudden, POW!!! You feel like you’ve been sacked! A topic comes up that knocks you back and it’s like you’ve lost ground vs. gaining it.
Where did this come from? Why did they bring it up? I didn’t hear a peep out of this person the whole meeting, so why are they talking now? We should have ended this awhile ago.
As you progress in your career, you may develop an internal clock with meetings. Once the meeting starts, you know to follow the agenda and work towards a goal. Your job is to keep people on task because knowing the room, it’s only a matter of time before attention is lost and topics completely unrelated to the meeting are brought up. You don’t want to lose ground.
This internal clock doesn’t develop overnight, though. It takes experience and a few “sacks” before it begins to develop. As you hone it over time, your internal clock may be different than someone else’s, but it’s there and you know it well. I know mine is a lot faster than my counterpart’s and those who attend my meetings know that also.
So meeting quarterback, go out and lead your team!