I invited you to finish the last post, and you surprised me.

It’s easy to forget. Even when we’re sharing the same experience with someone, we’re not having the same experience. 

I invited you to finish last week’s blog post about moving the goalposts on yourself. (Here’s that post if you missed it.)

Everyone read the same article and the same question: What is the lesson YOU need to remember about moving the goalposts for yourself/your teams?

Your responses were insightful. I hope you’ll read them for your own learning. 

The responses shared some themes, but they also showed a range of not only ideas but of delivery.

Please enjoy the thoughtful comments from these people to find the wisdom you need, today. 

Also, pay attention to the common themes and the variety in the responses. It’s a fun thing to marvel.

There’s only one thing we can be sure of.
It’s easy to think we know what someone else is thinking and experiencing. The only thing we can know for sure is that their experience and your experience is different.

It’s a valuable idea to remember:

  • When we share a new idea with the members of our team, anticipating full agreement 
  • When we want to act as a proxy for our clients, believing we our experience represents theirs
  • When we read the news and are shocked that others could possibly perceive it differently

Thank you to the people who took great care to share your wisdom in these posts. And by representing your own experience, thank you for also reminding us of what a wide, rich world we live in. 

From Jamie Overbey, Master Chair, Vistage Worldwide

Great question. I have four comments that you can use any way you like…

Set clear goals once per year and don’t change them. Track progress monthly. This maintains perspective and keeps us honest with our progress or lack thereof. 

Make a point to celebrate milestones when they are achieved. Hard to ignore the progress when you are celebrating publicly. 

Factor current success into the next cycle of goals. Usually the landing from a leap forward hurts a good bit more than a steady stairstep. 

Know when enough is enough and seek balanced excellence. Work matters, and so do other things in life. If your goals are balanced, it will keep you from becoming myopic on work. 

From Carrie Herzner

Thank you David for this thoughtful blog. I see so much of myself in the goalpost story. What I have learned is sometimes the challenges/goals I initially create for myself in the name of “motivation” can actually become de-motivating when I forget to stop and acknowledge where I came from. High achievers tend to always look forward, which is great, right? But stopping and allowing myself to feel (not just see) the progress from a peripheral view is essential, mostly to help me prevent negative self-talk that can hinder further progress. I can be notoriously hard on myself, and honestly on others too. So I apply this peripheral view now to my personal relationships, not just my career. I remember that we are all still learning, one moment, one goal, one day, one moment, at a time. 

From Josh Bretl, FSR Wealth Strategies 

I grew up playing on the shores of Lake Michigan. As we became better swimmers we would want to swim out to the “Sand Bar” where it was shallow again. When you get out to the “Sand Bar” quite often there is another sand bar further out. It doesn’t look very far from the first so we would swim to that one. If you were lucky there would be a third Sand Bar that again wasn’t very far. When you got out there you didn’t feel like you accomplished very much because the swim between Sand Bars wasn’t very far. But… when you looked back towards the shore you realized just how far you’ve come and what an accomplishment it was to make it that far to the third Sand Bar.

Sometimes it’s very helpful to look backward from time to time to see how far you’ve come. 

From Martin Haskell, MD

Sounds to me like the high achiever needs to learn self-appreciation for what has been accomplished, wipe the slate clean and start afresh!

P.S. Maybe too much focus on goals and not enough on what has been accomplished.

From Sally Deering

  • Goals aren’t the only things in life. They keep you focused on the future so you often miss the beauty that occurs around you today. (I still have not mastered this even if I intellectually know it. How to stay interested in life without it being all about the next goal is something I would love an answer to. What should I focus on if it’s not the next goal?)
  • Don’t have amnesia—and write things down to help eliminate amnesia. Write those goals down and review them periodically not just to Meet them (through the windshield), but to Review how you’ve achieved them and how far you’ve come (rearview mirror).

From Anonymous

My experience of this phenomenon is a bit in reverse. In two previous roles we had the problem where we set super aspirational goals. So in our case we declared 110 or even 150 up front. Then every quarter as we realized that we weren’t going to get there we lowered the target…. 150 to 130 to 110 to 90. Big bummer and everyone felt bad that we were underachieving not just once, but over and over again. Bad for morale, bad for the business. Hard to focus on the fact that 90 is a great number and we just built something from 0 to 90.

Aspirational goals serve a purpose, they allow you to be audacious and take big bets. But they have a dark side that can lead to real morale and business problems from the overcommitment, even when the result, when taken out of the context of the goals, is actually really remarkable.

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