I just recently finished up a coaching program, and some of the members and I decided to continue to meet to go back through the material (there was a LOT!) and help each other with our goals and sticking points as we went back through and tried to implement different aspects of the coaching program.
During our first group meeting, the youngest member of our group shared this quote that he liked: “The best goals are the ones out of reach for my current self.” That quote immediately resonated with me. Although, my younger friend mentioned he had shared that quote with some of his friends, who had rejected it and said they were fine with how they were and didn’t want to change.
I’ve read a lot of books on leadership, growth, and change. One of the things that is constant within those books is the idea of setting clear goals. The methodology changes, but the principle is the same: those who write down their goals and review them regularly have a much greater chance of achieving them than ones who don’t.
I’m far from perfect at this, but I am getting better. I have also seen that when I do write down my goals and review them, I accomplish them. It’s not rocket science. It’s actually brain science. There’s just something about keeping goals at the top of your mind and knowing where to course-correct that is a game-changer for goal achievement.
I also have a tendency to set pretty risky and lofty goals. I always have – it’s just how I’m wired. When I coach on SMART goals, I even replace “Risky” for the “R” in the acronym which usually stands for “Realistic”. Why be realistic, when you can push for more, I say?
This idea is what the above quote is really talking about. If we’re too safe in setting our goals, how are we growing or changing as individuals or leaders? Can you truly grow if you don’t step outside your comfort zone at least a bit?
To set goals that are risky, or that require my growth as an individual, are ones that by the time I’ve completed that goal, I’ve had to change in some way.
I’ve had to acknowledge my fear, yet move forward anyway.
I’ve had to learn something different or new.
I’ve had to step into discomfort until I’m more comfortable (notice I didn’t say “completely comfortable.”)
I’ve had to up my game in some way.
For me, there’s no other way to set goals than risky ones – ones that are outside the current version of myself. What if I fail? What does failure at this point mean? If I don’t hit my target, but I’ve pushed the envelope and grown through the process, isn’t that still a success? It is if you have a growth mindset.
Leadership, just like life, is a journey. I’m not sure you ever arrive, which isn’t really the point, but seek to enjoy the journey along the way. I realize we’re not all called to be the CEO of Amazon, or even of our own company. We’re not all called to be President of a college, or the President of the PTA.
But we all have to change. Change is not coming anymore. Change is constant and is here to stay. There are both small and big changes that we must adapt to, or run the risk of getting left behind. Some want things to stay as they are. Some wish for “the good old days” and try to get back there.
Me, I want to continue to grow and push the envelope. I want to become a different version of myself with each goal I set and look back and see what growth has happened. I’m not interested in staying the same and for sure don’t see the allure of things as they used to be.
For you, you have to choose. What kind of goals will you set? What kind of growth do you want to see? Realistic? (That’s ok, too!) Risky? (If you are more realistic, how might you push the envelope just a tad?) And then, write them down, review them regularly, and see what you accomplish. You might be surprised at what you accomplish…and…who you become.