A timeless piece of advice I happened to receive during the early years of my career went something on the order of…
Results matter, not effort!
That certainly sounds like someone could care less about the blood, sweat and tears that I would undoubtedly shed along the journey of achieving results.
These words still ring loud and clear nearly three decades later. I try diligently to manage my teams, as well as my own personal goals, by focusing on the desired outcomes. The effort to achieve such results is surely necessary, lest attainment be nothing more than a figment of imagination, but ultimately that effort is meaningless if the product of our labor does not yield the desirable outcomes.
This point of view may appear draconian, dismissing the human emotion stemming from the expenditure of energy and personal sacrifice associated with effort, but such a conclusion indeed misses the point. Effort should always be celebrated when results are achieved. However, applauding effort in the absence of results serves only to perpetuate the myth of accomplishment. We should instead examine those efforts with an honest eye to understand what led to failure.
Let me be the first to admit that I occasionally find myself defending the absence of attainment by leaning on the incredible effort that came before. We all do. It is human nature to protect ourselves.
It also presents an opportunity to recenter ourselves and reinforce the notion that the result is what matters. Doing so removes the emotion and opens the mind to different ways of thinking. In essence, these events translate to important learning opportunities.