Alignment before pressure

As an avid water skier, I’ve learned over the years that my body position over the ski determines the ​acceleration of the ski from one buoy to the next.  Faster is better.  Watching a webcast of a ski tournament one day, the commentator (also a pro skier) summed up the “stacked body position” this way:  “It’s important to have alignment before there is pressure.”  And behind the boat, there is a ton of pressure.

Alignment before there is pressure.  We need the same in work and in life.  Just think about it.

For a new team, if there is not alignment before there is pressure, they can expect power struggles, different interpretations of the same message, conflicting decisions, and other forms of friction.  Conflict can be incredibly useful for a team.  However, if there is too much pressure on the team before there is alignment, the improperly stacked “boxes” will come tumbling down, causing the conflict to divert from being productively around ideas to chaotic and personal.

Whether building a new house, or new marriage, pressure before there is alignment can be painful.  For a new marriage, imagine what happens when the couple is not aligned on finances, housekeeping, or family size.  (I don’t have to imagine this – I’ve lived it!) Many a fight has occurred because there was pressure before there was alignment.

How often do we rush into a new team, project, or situation without fully aligning our goals and values?  What happens when we get so excited about getting to our goal, that we forget to “stack the boxes” or find out what our teammates are aiming for and care about?

Getting alignment involves talking, testing and prodding.  It requires us to ask discovery questions to find out what matters to those around us.  True alignment needs to be tested.

​Create alignment before there is pressure and watch what happens to your results.