The purpose of a goal is to keep you in motion.
When you are in motion toward a real goal (a real goal is something you truly want for yourself, not something you think you should want), things happen.
Here’s a personal example. As an avid cyclist, I had long wanted to participate in a multi-day organized bike ride such as the 300-mile Aids rides or the MS150 rides.
I eventually worked it out with my calendar and family to register for the MS150 San Antonio Ride to The Beach ending in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Immediately after registering my behavior altered tremendously, without my exerting effort to change or discipline myself.
I changed my workouts, adjusted my diet, altered my sleep pattern, replaced the battery for my sports watch, cleaned and lubricated my bike, and revised the spreadsheet I used as a training log.
For all the motion it had “pulled” me into, I’d say that my intention to do that 150 mile bike ride was a potent goal!
Success guru Tony Robbins claims:
“There are no lazy people, only people with impotent goals.”
Without going into psychological detail, suffice to say everyone can have potent dreams, desires, wishes, wants, fantasies, visions, and drives within them. Buckminster Fuller said it well:
“There’s something spontaneously arousable in each of us.”
The difference between highly motivated people (those are the one’s in motion) and so-called lazy or low-motivated people is that low-motivated folks are satisfied with impotent goals. They haven’t yet learned to discover and tap into the potent drives that dwell within them.
Think about this example: before setting the goal for the MS150 ride, I knew my diet had drifted from what I knew served me best. But changing required too much e-f-f-o-r-t.
A coach friend of mine uses the term ”efforting” to describe making — rather than allowing — ourselves to do things.
My workouts and fitness level drifted along with my diet. I knew it and wished it hadn’t, but it seemed to take too much e-f-f-o-r-t to do anything about it.
For months, I knew my training log could be revised to better track my training, but the e-f-f-o-r-t to change it just seemed unreasonable.
Get the picture?
If you are “efforting” to make changes and to get things done, or if you are not in motion toward something you truly want, then take the hint and examine the potency of your goals.
Here are a few important distinctions:
- When you close in on achieving a goal, realize only another goal will keep you in motion. I always like to be planning two vacations into the future!
- Achieving goals, coming close to goals, and even doing our best and missing goals by a mile all deserve acknowledgement and celebration, otherwise future goals might be impotent. Remember, the real purpose of a goal is to put you in motion and keep you in motion.
- Realize that the meaning and thus the potency of a goal sometimes changes across time or as your proximity to it changes (witness the number of people who skip graduation ceremonies).
- Impotent goals are worth letting go.
- “Efforting” is an important message about one’s direction or the potency of one’s goals. The most incredible people I know seem to get everything in their lives done effortlessly and enjoy every bit of it. And I’m not talking about people who were born into advantage.
So what does all of this goal stuff have to do with the things I teach in The Leadership Gift™ Program? Just this: Many leaders and partners don’t realize that a potent goal for them might be impotent for others.
Thus a stated team goal that doesn’t put other people into motion is an impotent goal.
Often, leaders or partners mistakenly think something is wrong with the people! The leader who truly understands that the purpose of a goal is to put people into motion won’t declare a goal until they observe what moves their teammates.
Hint: Ask teammates and partners what’s in it for them to work on this project this time, and keep the conversation going until energy wells up. There’s a goal in that energy somewhere. Find it!
Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch
Examine your life and work for one situation where you are exerting what you feel is too much effort in order to achieve something. Ask yourself whether you are truly committed to this or not (you probably are, but you might decide it’s worth giving up).
If you are committed to it, but don’t want it to feel like an effort, look for a potent goal to attach to it that will make it appear effortless.
Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.
Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.