Do You Really Have A Goal?
” I have another goal, I want to climb a mountain.”
A very good friend of mine said this to me over the phone last Friday. He is 54 years old.
I suddenly got reminded of his compelling story that I must share with you.
Sometime back I was coaching this guy. He was the Chief Financial Officer of a well known mid-sized MNC. He was fifty one years old at the time. In one of our sessions. we were discussing goals and I was telling him how everyone falls into this trap of normal progression. Normal Progression, by the way refers to the most obvious goals. For example, If we are managers we want to be general managers. If we are general managers we want to be vice presidents and so on and so forth. If we earn x, we want to earn x plus twenty percent. It is important to have these goals but this is just a normal progression, not a goal.
This gentleman was made the CFO eleven years ago. He is proud to be one and why not, it’s a great company to work for. However, during this discussion he said to me that he never really wanted to study chartered accountancy. He said it took him seven attempts to clear the exams. It was his most frustrating experience because he didn’t even want it.
I was curious to know that what prompted him to go on for seven years? After all he didn’t like it, didn’t want it and he wasn’t succeeding as well.
He said “I couldn’t quit. I couldn’t let my father down. He was a chartered accountant. He was banking on me to take over his practice.”
Seven years of studying and almost twenty years in this current job. That’s twenty-seven years of chasing a goal that is not even yours.
I asked him what he was doing during those seven years. He shared that he was interning with his father, of course. He reluctantly also mentioned that in the evenings he used help out his brother in law in running his restaurant. “I loved cooking there.”
The most interesting part of this entire coaching relationship was this. I had been coaching this guy for the last six months. We’ve had about twelve sessions together. This is about twenty four hours of exploration till now. This was the first time he’s mentioned the word ‘love’. This was first time that he’s expressed any emotion at all.
That day we ended our session with only one conclusion – That he has lots of things to do. He does them very well. He’s an expert at his job. He’s respected. He’s almost indispensable in the company. He’s extremely competent. He does not have a goal.
Two weeks later when we met again, as agreed, he’d written down his goals. On top of the list the goal read “I own a restaurant.”
The idea behind all this wasn’t to dissuade him from his current job. It never is.
A year later he opened his restaurant in Mumbai. He hadn’t quit his job. His wife, who is a cook book author was running it. He helped her with all that he could. The evenings were dedicated to the restaurant.
In order to extract more from his time which now he just had to do, everything else fell into place. He had to make sure, he effectively delegated more work to his juniors. He did it with ease. Up to now there wasn’t a need to do so, so he was spending and killing his time in doing stuff that really should have been done by others. He had to be faster with things. He was. He had be good with time management. He learned it. He had to manage his relationships at work so no one objected to his new interests. He did that too. No one was complaining. He was doing (at work) all that they thought he should have. They were more than happy.
He had to do a lot of things that were new to him but he loved having his own restaurant.
I am told this restaurant in it’s first year itself made profits three times his annual salary. His motivation and his love for life at the time was at its peak. His desire to perform for his company was at its highest.
Three months ago he resigned after having put a successor in place. He continues to be a part of the board and assist the organization in a non-executive role. He called me last Friday to tell me all this. Before hanging up he said, “Chetan I have another goal, I want to climb a mountain. I am going to the Kanchenchunga camp in August. I know I wouldn’t be able to trek beyond a few hours.” I asked him that why would he then want to go? He said “I’d rather know that I have done it for a few hours than know that I haven’t done it at all. If I quit before even starting, then I am not even in the race.”
For twenty-seven years this great friend of mine assumed it was not possible to do one thing without losing the other. For twenty seven years he had normal progressive goals.
The only difference between this friend of mine and those who have normal progressive goals is that he wants to be in the race, the others think about it but disqualify themselves on their own.
The fact is that Normal Progressive Goals are not even goals. Growing by 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 percent or whatever it may be; is in today’s world progression. Normal progression is important but a person (or an organization) of average intelligence with an average attitude for excellence and an average attitude to look for opportunities, in my opinion, will be able to achieve it fairly comfortably.
There is a classic definition of a Goal: A dream – with a plan and deadline.
It’s true for an organization. It’s true for an individual. Remember, it’s defined as a dream.
A parallel to this is a quote in ancient manuscripts: “Who you are is what your deep driving desire is. As your desire is so is your will. As your will is so is your deed. As your deed is so is your destiny.”
What it really implies is this: Our desires gives our actions (or non actions) on those desires leads us to choosing our destiny (or the end).
Our desires and goals that we have or may have in future will become destiny only if and when we decide to act on them. Or we will allow the Normal Progressive Goals to become our destiny. There is nothing wrong with that but we must know that MORE is possible. Yes, we may fail, but as some philosopher said, “The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”
Finally we may either constantly find a way to be in the race or we may disqualify our own selves from it.
The choice is with you.
P.S. Here are four reasons why people (you included) don’t achieve their goals”
1. Failure to write down Goals and post them in view. 74% of our society doesn’t even put their goals in writing. WOW!
2. Failure to make a plan to achieve it.
3. Failure to commit and live up to the commitments made. People tend to give up once they fail. Success is about living up to the commitment to go on and turn it around.
4. Failure to make goals that were achievable in the first place.
All the best.