Irresponsible Optimism

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Is it irresponsible optimism to say, “Yes, I acknowledge the obstacles. We are going to succeed nonetheless.”?


And it is the only way anything meaningful ever happens.


In your corner,


PS: Nothing is inevitable unless we say so.

PPS: Does saying so guarantee it will happen? Nope. Not saying so pretty much guarantees it won’t happen, though.


Today’s photo credit: Annette Dubois cc

the pressure

The Pressure We Feel

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
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We often misinterpret the pressure that we feel to do more, to be more productive. We think it means we need to get busy, work harder, and churn through more tasks on our task lists. So we do. And we long for relief and release.

But productivity is not how much we get done in a day or year. It’s how well and often we get done whatever advances our goals.

The pressure we feel is really the drive to set and achieve meaningful goals and dreams.

We start to know our goals by asking, “Generally, what three things are most critical for me to do in my role?” And each day we can ask ourselves, “What three outcomes do I want to see by the end of today, this week, and this year?”

Feel the relief?


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Wesley Lelieveld cc


Monumental Goals Only Look Scary

Posted Leave a commentPosted in What=Compelling Focus
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Committing to a monumental goal is a fast route to success…if we can get past the fear. Monumental goals seem scary because we cannot see how to possibly achieve them.

But that’s the point. If we can see how to get there, then it’s an incremental not a monumental goal.

When we commit to something that is just this side of impossible, we are agreeing to open ourselves to the new people, approaches, and insights that will get us there.


In your corner,


PS: Scary? It only seems that way because we haven’t done it before. Taking everything a step at a time, we can do it, whatever it turns out to be.

PPS: We can select a monumental goal by choosing something that is 10 times larger than we normally would have chosen. If we end up only at 8 or 5 or 3 times larger, it is still worth it, yes?


Today’s photo credit: Amy Meredith cc

big small

What Sort of Goals are Best? Both!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in What=Compelling Focus
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There are two types of goals: incremental goals and monumental goals. Incremental goals ask us to work a bit harder, to focus a bit more, to iron out inefficiencies. When we commit to monumental goals, we face things that seem nearly impossible.

Incremental goals help us mine and perfect. Monumental goals help us reset and redefine. Think 20% revenue growth or 5% fewer highway fatalities and making renewable energy ten times cheaper or raising a billion people out of poverty.

Which are better? Both.

Achieving monumental goals creates new spaces for incremental goals to work. Achieving incremental goals creates a stable, safe environment from which to launch monumental goals.

Which do you feel most now like achieving?


In your corner,


Today’s photo credit: Rod Waddington via photopin cc

high note

Come At Your Goals from Above

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Success
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If singers try to hit a very high note by reaching up with their voices, they will likely stretch, squeeze, and strain. They are afraid that they will not hit the note. If they hit it, it won’t be pretty or fun. Instead, singing coaches encourage singers to hit the highest notes by coming at the note from above, that is, by preparing to hit an even higher note then confidently landing on the desired note.

We can apply this lesson in our goals for this year. It’s easier to hit a desired goal by preparing to hit an even higher one.


In your corner,


PS: Looking forward to hearing your songs of success this year.

PPS: The sages have always maintained that it is easier to make $10 million than $100,000.

PPPS: I am not encouraging “stretch goals.” Those are stress-inducing, feel-bad forms of torture. They come from the bottom, like the non-confident singer. Feel good and prepare for a bigger success. You will hit your desired note and may even succeed further than you had imagined you could.


Today’s photo credit: Laura cc


Sometimes We Need a Goals Shortcut

Posted Leave a commentPosted in What=Compelling Focus
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We have much more success at work and home when we are definite about what we want. Most people and their organizations are rather indefinite.

“But,” you say, “I don’t know exactly what I want. And if I did, what if it was wrong and there was something better that I missed? Or what if I don’t get what I most want? That would be devastating.”

Here’s a shortcut around all that: ignore the details (such as x% market share, $y revenue, such-and-such title, so-and-such income, that car, this house, etc.) and be definite only about the essence of what you want.

For most of us (including all the people in our organizations), the essence of what we want is happiness, abundance, growth, freedom, friends, family, and fun.

What could go wrong if we achieve these definite goals?


In your corner,


PS: And the real shortcut is that we can choose to be happy, abundant, etc. right now and any time we want.


Today’s photo credit: Pip R. Lagenta cc

which way

Need I Ask Which Way?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Will=Our inner game
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“This needs to happen so I am going to worry/push/avoid/hope/drive hard to make it happen. Then I’ll be safe/happy/connected/abundant/free.”


“I want a work- and home-life of safety, happiness, connection, abundance, and freedom. It feels pretty dang good to envision what that life is/will be like. Wow. Now I jump in and act as inspired.”

Need I ask which way will get us what we want, faster?


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: drinks machine cc


Why Concrete Goals are Better than Specific Goals

Posted Leave a commentPosted in What=Compelling Focus
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They tell us that we should set goals that are specific. But if we shoot for ‘specific’, we may end up with ‘detailed’.

And detailed goals aren’t helpful.

They tempt us to plan and manage every aspect along the way to the goals. Such a focus blinds us to innovation, better ways, and serendipity.

Here is an example of detailed goals: “We will be the number one retailer in the spaces in which we compete. We will have a 10 point increase in same-store sales with a 3 point increase in EBITDA, and a doubling of price-to-earnings. We will achieve this with efficiencies realized from completing last year’s merger, the rollout of 3 new product lines, a refresh of the store designs, a implementation of the online customer care system, a restructuring of short-term debt …” Etc. Ugh.

Far better to set clear, concrete, compelling goals that describe the results we ultimately want to see. Clear, concrete, compelling goals inspire and release everyone to apply their talents, creativity, and caring.

Here is an example of clear, concrete, compelling goals: “In two years, twice as many people will choose to do their shopping with us. 9 out of 10 clients will shop with us at least monthly. Our employees will be half as likely to leave. And we will be twice as profitable with no more than a 25 percent increase in debt.”

No details. Not a word about “how.” Just clear, concrete, and compelling desired results


In your corner,


PS: Read Jim Collins’ book Good to Great for more ideas about concrete, compelling goals.

PPS: Yes, there is room for planning with these concrete, compelling goals. The plans aren’t baked into the goals, though. They are left to the teams to figure out.

PPPS: This approach requires leaders to coach their teams with questions like, “What are all the things we can do to hit these goals? What obstacles can we anticipate? Who can help us and who can we help with their part of this?”


Today’s photo credit: TruckPR cc

many ways

A Way

Posted Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus
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People of all stripes–bosses, teenagers, teachers, priests, scientists, politicians, peers, employees, partners, protesters, parents, and artists–may say they have the way. Whether at work or home, they know they are correct in this matter. And they have the needed evidence or emotion to convince everyone of it.

Alas, there is no the way. Ever. For every matter, there are always many possible ways.

Give a break to those who insist that they have the way; they believe they are doing the right thing. And know that theirs is a way.


In your corner,


PS: Heck, sometimes even you and I get trapped advocating what we think is the way.

PPS: Which way to take? How about the one you trust, that is most productive of your desired goals? It need not be the way anyone else is taking.


Today’s photo credit: Sam Kim cc


Five Steps to Set and Hit Goals For Real This Year (Even Those You’ve Failed at Before)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Strategy, Success, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 3 min.

Setting goals at the start of the year is good and necessary. Yet our goals often seem tinged. While we may say things like, “This year, we will increase sales by 20%,” or “This year, I will lose 20 pounds,” we often can sense a pang of doubt. We aren’t sure, are we? Maybe the goal is too big. Haven’t we tried and failed at this before? So we start discounting or even disowning our results even before we’ve started.

Sometimes we may be tempted to override this doubt with bravado, puffery, or pasted-over positivity. These declarations of certainty don’t work because they only hide our doubt. Other times we may try to evade the doubt by constructing smaller goals based on plausible assumptions and doable activities. But here we’re simply building a discounted goal from discounted, doubt-ridden parts. Or we may throw up our hands and forget all about hitting goals. Frustrating, ya?

Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Notice that the real issue is not goals but doubt. Doubt holds us away from goals. Focusing on the doubts, we miss the opportunities, connections, and ideas that will help.

But aren’t we justified in our doubt? Doesn’t an uncertain future mean we must discount our desires and accept a lesser fate? Can we as rational, intelligent, caring people find a workable alternative to doubt? Can we succeed as we dream to?

Nope. Nope. Yup. Yup. Here’s how.

First, we set compelling goals. If they aren’t compelling, if the reasons why don’t make sense, then the goals aren’t worth it. Let’s go for something with meaty meaning.

Second, we change how we see the future. We doubt because we believe that the uncertain future is filled with unknown, unknowable, lurking threats. Yet because the future is unknown, unknowable, and uncertain, we are just as right to believe the future is filled with lurking rewards, opportunities, and delight. We can choose to believe either.

Third, we raise our buzz. Seeing a future full of threats feels bad and lowers our buzz. Seeing a future full of delights feels great and raises our buzz. Whenever we feel bad, even that wee pang or tinge, we are either regretting the past or seeing threats in the future. We can train ourselves to catch thoughts of regret and threat and replace them with better feeling, buzz-raising ones.

Fourth, we help others (all those who matter) achieve their goals and seek their help in achieving ours. We can’t do it alone. Neither can they.

Fifth, we act as inspired. When we feel good, the next best tasks become obvious and simple to do. We become happily productive.

Next thing we know, we’re hitting our goals.


In your corner,


PS: Please avoid the inherited temptation to justify the belief in a threat-filled future based on experience, statistics, the past. Really, focus on the past only distracts us.


Today’s photo credit: vanhookc via photopin cc