“Set challenging targets”.
At ELEC2017 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Mr. Isao Yoshino made this statement a number of times. Since the conference, I’ve found myself thinking about it over and over again. It’s popped into my mind while I’ve been coaching people and it’s informed my own personal and professional reflections as we near the end of 2017.
“Set challenging targets”.
Seems simple and straightforward. But what does it really mean? And if it’s so simple, then why don’t most of us do it regularly?
Here’s what I’ve been thinking:
- The idea of ‘challenge’ is challenging. In many places, even the word itself is unpopular. Challenge means we don’t know ‘how’ to do something. Really don’t know. Because if we did, it wouldn’t actually be a ‘challenge’, would it? For most of us making a conscious decision to do something that we really don’t know how to do is an uncomfortable and unpleasant thought. So uncomfortable and unpleasant that we might go to great lengths, and give ourselves many great excuses, to avoid it all together: “It’s unreasonable…people will be discouraged and demotivated…I’ll let people (and myself) down, if I don’t reach the goal.” So, instead of setting a changing target we set one that we if we’re really truthful with ourselves, we already have a pretty good idea of how to reach. We might just not have spent the time or effort necessary to reach it yet….
- We have a mistaken idea of what the scope of a challenging target is. When you think of a challenging target, do you think of something like “find a cure for cancer” or “end poverty”? How about “Get all emails and phone calls responded to on the same day”…or “write in my journal each day”? Often, I find that people only see the first ones as challenging targets. Because of that they feel overwhelmed by the thought that this is the kind of goal they should be working on. However, if we define a challenging target as something you really don’t currently know how to do, (like respond to all emails and phone calls on the same day or write in a journal on a daily basis) then we can come to the realization that a challenging target doesn’t have to be giant. It simply needs to be about something we’re passionate about accomplishing that we don’t yet know how to do! Your challenging target is worthwhile, no matter what size!
So, if you think your goal or dream is too small, don’t! Set yourself a challenging target and get started figuring out how to accomplish it. Because the benefits of figuring out how to accomplish things we don’t know how to do yet are huge! As we figure things out we’ll:
- Improve our creativity: For me, the definition of creativity isn’t lightning bolts and flashes of inspiration coming out of nowhere. It’s the ability to combine knowledge gained from previous experiences in new and different ways. So, figuring out how to work towards your challenging target doesn’t require a flash of inspiration. All it requires is thinking about what you can use from what you’ve experienced previously, to move forward! We all have that little voice inside our head that says ‘I have an idea’…Listen to it and try it out! That’s the way to use past experiences to create new solutions!
- Develop courage: Trying the idea, (especially because we feel uncomfortable!), helps us discover the courage that we all have inside! And the more we practice courage, the more we define ourself as a courageous person! A person who can move forward when they feel the uncomfortable feeling of not knowing how to do something!
- Gain confidence: Because confidence only comes from DOING! When we ‘see’ that we can figure out what to do, we develop confidence in our ability to use our creativity to reach other challenging targets!
“Set challenging targets.”
Each one of us is wonderfully unique and has a special purpose in this world to fulfill. Every single one of us. And, as far as I can see, the best way to do that is to set challenging targets so that we can grow beyond who we are now, grow towards our purpose.
So, as you reflect on 2017, I challenge you to ask yourself the following questions: Did I really set challenging targets for 2017? If not, why? What will I do differently to set those challenging targets in 2018?
Those are the questions I’m asking myself!
All the best for the holiday season, 2018 and beyond!