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Target Panic

August 8, 2008

In last Friday’s edition of the New York Times, Katie Thomas penned an interesting article about the phenomena of target panic among archers. Like the maladies that afflict other athletes at a time of precise action (whether it is the ability to throw a ball at a glove or make a simple putt), target panic affects archers in connection with the targeting and release of an arrow, oftentimes causing the archer to impulsively release the bow when the target comes into their sights. It is an affliction that can mysteriously come and inexplicably disappear, but for the competitive archer it can be absolutely destructive.

This article got me thinking, how often do we find ourselves with a case of target panic in our own lives? When our focus and goal becomes clear, do we stay focused and release at the exact moment to achieve our intended result or, in our overanxious approach to hitting the target, do we release too early, therefore missing our target? At the moment in which we have should have the ability to become laser-focused on hitting the mark, do we suddenly lose sight and cause our shots to land astray?

And just as much in our personal lives, what about in the lives of our Jewish community organizations? How often do they fall into a bad case of target panic? Oftentimes they spend months developing strategic plans and setting specific organizational targets, but then at the exact moment in which they need to hit the target their leadership gets a case of target panic. While leadership often succeeds in getting everything ready for the moment of execution – gather data, develop identifiable targets, acquire the correct set of skills, and get into the appropriate positioning – they then often seize up at the exact moment of execution. It is those questions of panic that freeze them up and causes a case of organizational target panicking, questions such as:

  • Is this really the right time for change?
  • Will our stakeholders abandon the us if the road gets rough?
  • Do we have the organizational will to succeed?
  • Will success really change anything, or is this effort a waste of time and resources?

While those questions should be vetted in the strategic planning process, oftentimes they creep back in to an organization’s mindset at the moment execution is to unfold, therefore causing target panic.

In 2008, it seems there is not a Jewish organization that isn’t involved in some strategic planning effort. But as a collective Jewish people, we are also searching for strategic ways to target the collective challenges we face. Intermarriage. Assimilation. Apathy. Each of these areas of concern is a target of the urgent and intense focus of our Jewish community. The solutions needed to address these challenges require tremendous resources, skill and positioning. But it also requires exceptional targeting.

And as a Jewish people we can’t afford a case of target panic.

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