Let me start off by being honest: this person didn’t build a million-dollar business in 90 days. It ended up valued at $750,000. He missed his goal, lost the bet (with himself), and honored his obligation to pump $1 million of his own money into this new company.

I’m talking about the debut season of Discovery’s Undercover Billionaire, a show about Glenn Stearns who -as a self-made billionaire- believed that the American Dream is still alive and well and set out to prove it.

What Does This Have to Do with Productivity?

Everything. After all, who in their right mind would possibly think they could build a million-dollar business in a year (let alone 90 days) without being productive? 

Every.day.of.the.week!

Glenn Stearns was given no connections, nothing in his new phone, dropped in Erie, Pennsylvania where he knew no one, and handed an old pickup truck and $100. That was it. The clock started ticking.

Overnight low temps in the teens, daytime highs barely scraping into the mid-20s, and he had to quickly figure out how to earn money, determine a need in the community he could fill, and then surround himself with men and women who had the skills, experience, and knowledge he lacked.

$100 Doesn’t Go Very Far

It’ll get you some food, perhaps a night in a seedy motel, and a bit of gas. Then it’s gone. How do you get more when you don’t know a soul?

You find ways to be productive. As Glenn noted in the first episode about finding opportunities, ‘The more lines you have in the water, the more likely you are to get some hits.’

After three days of nearly zero hits or leads, he was getting desperate. Frustrated. Cold. Sleeping in his truck on those frigid nights probably sunk some doubt into his mind. But, as he also noted, ‘Most people quit when things don’t work out right away. You have to keep pressing on. It’s the ones who don’t quit who win.’

Productivity Isn’t Just About Hitting Goals: It’s About Hitting BACK

There are days when you want to give up, when nothing goes according to plan, when your calendar looks like a hurricane spaghetti model with lines going every which direction as you have to reschedule, reconfigure, and rethink.

By nine o’clock in the morning, when you’ve already spent the last 90 minutes putting out fires, fielding frantic calls from clients, colleagues, the boss, sick team members, and perhaps a dozen others, it’s easy to get frazzled.

It’s easy to give up.

It’s too easy to look at your calendar, all those well-intentioned plans of productivity for the day and think, ‘It’s not going to happen’ and get bogged down in your thoughts.

That’s a form of giving up. Okay, okay, I’ll concede that you likely hold the scheduled meetings, hit the must-finish deadlines, and do the ‘necessities,’ but that will only keep you floating.

It won’t get you ahead.

Sometimes when the unexpected happens (your car breaks down, you get bogged down in a nightmare traffic mess, the kid’s sick, your flight’s delayed, etc.), our natural default is to focus on the things that go wrong.

We focus on the silence, the opportunities that didn’t pan out, the proposals that failed to win a client.

It’s in those times we need to hunker down and hit back.

How Do We ‘Hit Back?’

We don’t give up. You can certainly feel frustrated, dejected, upset, or even angry, but it’s imperative that you only coddle those emotions for a few minutes. If you haven’t done so, develop relaxation techniques that are effective for you.

Breathe slow and deep. Take your shoes and socks off and curl your toes on the carpet. Go to a private place, stick your face in your hands and scream.

Whatever it takes.

Then march back to the office, to your desk, to your calendar, and focus on the next task on the schedule.

You hit back when you refuse to let the unexpected concussions to impact your train. It’ll affect others, sure. Don’t let it send you off the rails.

Productivity isn’t merely about getting more done in the time you have; it’s also about dusting yourself off when the horse throws you, slipping back into the saddle, and letting that animal know you’re the boss.

Be Flexible, but Firm

That’s seems like quite the contradiction, but it’s not. We need to be flexible enough to bend in the storms and high winds, but firm enough to refuse to break.

When times are tough, when plans go sideways, when the fit hits the shan, that’s when leaders rise. That’s when productivity really matters.

And that’s where winners grab the trophy. Next time (and there will be a next time) … just hit back.

Cynthia Corsetti is an Executive Coach and Speaker. If you’d like to learn more on how her C.A.R.E. to Engage system can help you create an engaged workforce in your organization, you can email her at: cynthia@cynthiacorsetti.com

PS..I’m an open networker and I love to connect. Please join me over on LinkedIn and FB so we can take this journey together!