Box JumperWhat I learned at CrossFit today, I actually knew from a prior experience. Our workout this morning was a 20-minute series of weight lifting, kettle bell swings, and box jumps (simplified for ease of reading). The box jump is just what it sounds like, and is shown in the photo. Quite simply, you jump on the box, get off and repeat. It’s not particularly difficult, but if you miss the box it can really hurt.

Having prior experience missing the box, I warned two newer members before we began the workout. “If you haven't done box jumps before, be careful,” I preached. “ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BOX,” I exclaimed. “If you get distracted, and miss the box, your shin will look like this,” I said, pointing to the scar on my left leg I earned two years prior.

We set about the workout, and almost immediately I missed my jump and smacked my right shin square into the box. I shrieked out a loud cuss word, and hobbled around a bit as the pain shot up my leg through the rest of my body. I had taken my eye off the box right after instructing those guys not to do it. How stupid could I be?

In business, we are similarly taught to keep our eye on the box—to say focused on what matters to our success. We have all likely heard the pep talks and motivational speeches. Rah-rah, just micro-focus and the deals beat a path to your door. But what happens when you “miss the box” in business? What is the shin-smacking equivalent when you forget to call that client, when you don’t finish that proposal, or schedule that meeting?

In my experience, I find that while there is no physical pain, the emotional impact is similar to what I experienced at the gym. It was embarrassing to have that unfold the way it did, and it hurt. When we lose focus at work and realize what “could have been,” we will likely think about the income we “could have earned” had we not missed the box. But it is more than just lost revenue. Missing that box in the business world is inevitable, but how you deal with the miss is far more important. Depending on where one is in their career, missing the box could be categorized as an education, as embarrassing, as being sloppy, as a ticket to a pink slip, as perhaps a blessing in disguise, or other, but in any event, missing the box should always make us think. How can we improve our processes or procedures to avoid this from happening again?

So, horribly humbled, with a split shin and bloody leg I did the only thing I could possibly do at that moment—I jumped back on the box. I shook it off, gritted it out and finished the workout (about 18 minutes more). It was around then that I realized the similarity with my professional life and my failed box jump. When things don’t go as planned—when you lose your focus and smack your shin on the box—you can’t mope about it. You have to get back up, make those calls, finish that report, use your mistake as a reason to sharpen your focus to be better than you were before.

Better yet to keep your eye on the box at all times because when you miss, it hurts.