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-- Jules Renard


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I now have one rule of life that I would evangelize:

Crave freedom, for yourself and for others.

Freedom is choice. It's exploration and spontaneous and wonder-filled. I think everyone can and should pursue it with abandon.

After that mantra, I'm establishing habits. A habit is better than a goal. Yoda said it well:

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
Habits are what I do daily. Goals are what I try to do. I think a "goal" is often a precursor to a lack of follow-through.

Habit = Actions.
Goals = Words.

A goal is also a destination, and I don't think that's bad, but firm goals can prevent me from tweaking my direction. It doesn't allow a course correction and it prevents me from listening while I'm focused on arriving at my goal. You know, I should just sail. I might not find India, but America instead.

Tom Peters recently published a slide deck that spoke of the 3 E's:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Execution
  • Excellence
Standards are important. In fact, critical. What are the non-negotiable behaviors I habitually exhibit in my life? Habits are something that I can do right now, and standards are the quality with which I do them. If I set standards for me, and then habitually execute my standards of behavior, I'm doing what Gandhi said:
Be the change that you seek in the world.
I can only change me, so I am. If others are influenced to do the same, then it will mean all the more because they chose it for themselves freely, not because I coerced them. My actions speak volumes over my words.

I'm reading Jeffrey Gitomer "Little Red Book of Selling." In the "Kick Your Own Ass" section, he says:

Philosophy drives attitude.

"Attitude drives action. Actions drive results. Results drive lifestyles." That's a quote from America's business philosopher, Jim Rohn. If you don't like your lifestyle, look at your results. If you don't like your results, look at your actions. If you don't like your actions, look at your attitude. If you don't like your attitude, look at your philosophy.

Most salespeople make the fatal mistake of starting in the middle: they start with "action."

If you have no philosophy and you have a lousy attitude, what kind of actions are you going to take?

He also says later to celebrate effort, not victory. Attaining a goal is not triumphant. Executing daily the standards I set for myself is triumphant. That's the hard part. But the philosophy and the standards are the first and essential step.

I've divided my standards into four axes: Body, Mind, Lifestyle, and Business. In each of these, I've declared three standards. The standards are written as means of action and not as goals. They are actions I can do daily right now and not destinations in some distant future. I won't say what they are, but this method feels right, and it's a complete change of what I had before. It's much better.

"Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try."

ETC: The more I think about it, the more I'm down on goals.

  • It's future-telling, which is just dumb anyway.
  • Goals don't allow for any evolution. It's rigid thinking. The strong do not survive; the adapters survive.
  • By announcing our goals, we set the expectations of others and by changing goals, no matter the reason, you disappoint people.
  • We generally either set our goals too low, in which case we settle for mediocrity, or we set them too high, in which case we now have more reason to believe that we can't succeed. Gitomer talks about how sales goals are bullshit. He's right, and this is exactly why.
The dilemma for me is that this flies in the face of a lot of the business world.

Let's look at war, and business is often compared to war, so we'll go with this. A goal can be seen as aiming at a target. Think of the soldier in the field. The enemy guy in the mustache is his goal. "I'm gonna nail that guy!" he says to himself. He stares through his rifle's site and takes aim at the enemy. The enemy is moving. He has to shift his target. He has to move his position. But while he's fixating on this mustached guy, he's missed the swarm of other combatants who have moved into his area. He was tunnel-visioned.

So did he simply have the wrong goal? Think about it. The bigger goal is to any enemy soldiers. Okay, fine, so instead of aiming at a single soldier, he should have made his goal the enemy platoon. Any one of them will do. Now he's firing at anything in that direction. But being fixated on the enemy soldiers, he misses the directive of his squad sergeant, who wants the team to work together. He stopped listening.

So did he have the wrong goal again? The bigger goal yet is to have enough guys on his side to take over the area in which they are and hold it. They do this by working together. So he does this, and now he's listening and firing at targets of opportunity. They are gung-ho and owning that patch of dirt. But they didn't know that there are two brigades behind the single enemy platoon in front of them.

I could go on with this exercise, but the point is simple: Focusing on a goal will force you to miss the bigger picture and cause you to ignore the changing conditions of your environment. It might also prevent you from doing the job right in the first place.

Where's the upside?

The replacement, as I've mentioned, is habits driven by standards. I don't hear those words much in the business world.


by Brett Rogers, 9/4/2006 10:08:50 AM



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