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Tag Archives: goal-setting

A lesson from a 10-speed bicycle on how to achieve goals

I often explore what it takes to achieve goals, to get beyond the “hope” stage and actually create concrete results.  In fact, earlier this year, I blogged about the importance of a “structured” vessel when one seeks to achieve goals.  Today’s blog post explores another aspect of setting and achieving goals – this time the importance of action.

Multi-speed bikes are an asset

10-speed-bikeWhen I was a child, I rode a single speed bicycle.  It didn’t matter whether I was biking up a hill or racing down a gravel road, my bike had just one gear, and I had to adjust my effort and speed in order to compensate for the riding conditions.  As I grew older though, I realized that one could actually make the bicycle-riding experience easier and more enjoyable by getting a 3-speed, a 10-speed or even a 21-speed bike.  The greatest benefit of a multiple-speed bicycle was that I could adjust the pedaling resistance to ride more easily over a greater variety of terrains.  Brilliant!

Shortly after I got my first 10-speed bike, I quickly realized one additional and extremely vital fact – in order to switch gears, you had to be moving.  Continue reading

A liquid metaphor about achieving goals

At this time of the year, there’s a lot of thought about setting and achieving goals.  In fact, on almost exactly this date last year, I blogged about how my unexpected encounter with a sea otter got me thinking about this very subject.  Today’s musings … about drinking water.

It’s a lot easier to drink water when you have a glass

glasswater3Potable water … absolutely essential to survival, but unless it is contained – within a glass, a bowl, or even a cupped hand – almost impossible to drink.  Sure you could kneel and lap at a running stream just like other members of the animal kingdom, but it’s a lot easier if it is in a vessel of some sort.  Even animals appreciate drinking from an enclosed source such as a pond or a puddle.

At a time of the year when so many people set and achieving goals and targets for their professional and personal lives, this liquid reality offers an apt metaphor.  Think of water as representing dreams and aspirations, the goals and objectives that you hope to accomplish over the next twelve months.  Just like a liquid takes less effort to drink when it is contained within a vessel, desired targets are easier to achieve when they are surrounded by a solid structure.  So what is this vessel that lets you move goals and aspirations from mere dreams to concrete reality?  The outer form of the vessel may differ from situation to situation, but it must always be constructed of three components – it must be specific, it must be measurable, and it must have a deadline.

Here is an example

Let’s say that one of your leadership objectives Continue reading

An unexpected lesson from a sea otter

A couple of weeks ago, on my morning walk along Victoria’s Inner Harbour walkway, I was very fortunate to observe a sea otter dive down into the ocean to catch a crab and then swim up to the shore to eat it, approximately 15 feet away from where I was standing. I caught about 30 seconds of this amazing encounter on video which I’ve posted below.

This infrequent experience was exciting in itself, but what I found particularly interesting was that the sea otter took just a couple of bites of the crab, leaving the majority of the carcass behind on the rocks as he swam away. Why didn’t he finish this meal that he worked so hard to obtain? Was it because it didn’t taste very good? Or was there a more delicious morsel he spotted just on the other side of the rock? Maybe it was because he saw us watching quietly nearby. Or perhaps it was because the seagulls were already circling and he wanted to share his bounty (or couldn’t be bothered to fight them off). Continue reading

Build resiliency in your employees

As leaders we care about our employees’ intellectual capital, and even their social capital. But we don’t always concern ourselves with our employees’ psychological capital. We should. If you aren’t sure what these three phrases mean, an easy way to understand it is to think of intellectual capital as what people know, and social capital as who they know. Psychological capital, on the other hand, is who they are, or who they are becoming. And there is a growing amount of research that shows that employees with high psychological capital are more productive and perform better in the workplace. The crux of psychological capital is resiliency, the ability to overcome challenges (both routine and traumatic) and bounce back stronger, wiser and more personally powerful.

eggRubberBallA powerful visual to demonstrate resiliency is to compare a raw egg to a rubber ball. When you drop a raw egg, it breaks, scattering yolk and albumen everywhere, creating an unpleasant mess that someone will have to clean up. Conversely, when you drop a rubber ball, it bounces back up within seconds, with no harm done, either to itself or those around it. As a leader, your role is to help your employees shift from being raw eggs and grow and develop into rubber balls.   Continue reading

A freezing icy lesson on achieving goals

Late last month, while I was at a client event in Edmonton AB, winter arrived in all its fury! Now I shouldn’t be surprised, I do live in Canada after all 🙂 . But an unexpected snowy mishap gave me a chilly lesson in achieving goals – a freezing reminder of why it’s important to be pointed in the right direction if you want to get to your intended destination! Let me explain.

SnowyParkingOvernight, in a matter of less than twelve hours, over a foot of snow had fallen in the city. In the morning, I drove from my hotel to the event location and pulled into the parking lot … which was covered in deep and heavy snow. As I pulled into a spot, my car got stuck. I tried in vain to alternately go both backward and forward, but the wheels spun uselessly and I could not get out. After about 10 minutes of trying all the driving “tricks” most Canadians are familiar with, I finally braved the sub-zero temperature to get out of my car and take a closer look at the problem. Continue reading

Want to achieve your goals? The answer lies in performance measurement

There’s an old leadership adage – what gets measured gets done; in fact, I have long advocated an extended version – what gets measured and publicized gets acted on – which I blogged about back in November 2010.  Recently, I, at a personal level, became a living breathing example of this leadership principle of performance measurement in action.

Merge_June2_2013This is what I posted to my friends and family on my personal Facebook page on June 2 earlier this month:

Exactly one year ago today, June 2 2013, I weighed 33 lbs more than I do today!  Many of you have asked me HOW I achieved this. Just plain ol’ simple math. Output greater than input every single day, that’s it! Plus tracking help from my Fitbit and the associated app.

Those of you who have ever tried to lose weight know that it can be a very challenging effort.  In fact, I found this goal to be FAR FAR harder than any business goal I’ve ever tried to achieve.  But it was because I measured – steps walked every day, flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, calories eaten, weekly weight checks – that I was motivated to keep going.  Now granted, technology makes it a lot easier to keep track (that little Fitbit and its associated app are awesome!), but it was because I measured and publicized (within my Fitbit circle of friends) that I achieved this major milestone.

So what’s the message here for leaders?  Continue reading

Setting goals? To build confidence, go smaller and sooner

GoalsSetting goals is an important first-step towards achieving objectives and when done appropriately and regularly, it can be a source of great motivation for teams and individuals.  I often hear leaders refer to “stretch targets” – goals that require and effort or “stretch” to realize.  But the key to goal-setting that results in success really lies in attaining a balance – a balance between “too much” and “not enough”.  If the goals are too big or too distant or not reflective of the business reality, they will actually undermine confidence and eventually become de-motivators.  On the other hand, if the goals are too easy, or simply the status quo, they will not serve to encourage higher performance or productivity.

So what’s the solution?  Continue reading

Empty Your Email Inbox and Fill Your Team – Part II

DeriLatimer2As promised, Deri Latimer is back as a guest on the blog today, continuing from her post earlier this week in which she gave us ten specific ideas to reduce the amount of time you spend managing your email. Now that you have all this free time :), Deri’s post today focuses on eleven things you can do to invest in your people.

Now that your inbox is less full, and you are less imprisoned by a deluge of email, start instilling practices to fill your team. Some of the many possibilities include:

  1. Help. Give your team what they need most. Often you will find that what they need is some simple assistance from you. A vote of confidence to make a decision, certain tools to do the job properly, permission to vent (and then problem solve) about a frustrating customer/client experience. Continue reading

Build a stronger working relationship by finding out your boss’ objectives

GoalsSignContinuing in our series of things you can do to build a better working relationship with your boss, here’s one more idea.

Find out what your boss’ objectives and key issues are.  What his financial or operational targets are?  What is going to be driving her actions in the coming year? What’s keeping him up at night?  Ask questions to uncover this information.  And as you listen, think about what you can do to help further his/her goals.  Offer to take on small components of whatever matters to the boss, or offer up solutions that you are already aware of.  Remember Continue reading

Begin with the end in mind – a leadership lesson from the Cheshire cat

“Can you tell me which road to take?”

“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

I was re-reading Lewis Carroll’s 1865 classic “Alice in Wonderland” the other day and was reminded of how this literary nonsense in fact isn’t. The whimsical Cheshire cat offers a valuable lesson in leadership – if you don’t know where you’re going, nothing that you can do will be of consequence. Which is exactly why leaders need to be very clear about their goals and department objectives, not only to themselves, but also to those they lead. In my experience, most (if not all) leaders have an inner vision of their intended destination. But they frequently fail when it comes to clearly communicating this vision to the rest of the team. You must be able to articulate to your team exactly where you wish to go, or else, not be surprised when nobody gets there.

So … what’s been your experience? Can you put your hand over your heart and say that every person on your team knows where you want the team and your department to go? How are you making this happen? Do share.