Over the festive season, I spent a lot of time reading Mark Sandborn’s book The Potential Principle. When I wasn’t reading Sandborn’s theories about reaching your potential, I was cleaning out my garage. While unpacking everything I came across a file from a course I did back in 1991. As part of this course, I had to outline what my ideal lifestyle might look like. And when I read through the file, I was pleased to discover that I have achieved everything I dreamed about all of those years ago.
But before you pat me on the back, what you need to remember is that some of these dreams took me well over a decade to achieve. And across all of those years there were a lot of ups and downs. Getting to where I am today has required a great deal of hard work and perseverance.
The value of setting clear goals
If I want to improve my golf game, going to the driving range and just hitting 50 balls without any real purpose isn’t going to make much impact. But what if I take the same 50 balls and I set an intention? If I say to myself that I am going to try to land at least 30 of these balls just 2 metres from the pin, I am working towards a more specific outcome. In doing so, my time at the range will immediately be more effective.
Often, people set the wrong goals because they fail to understand the difference between a lagging and leading measure. The former entails setting a very broad, vague goal. For example, you decide at the beginning of the year that you want to save R10 000 or that you want to lose 10kgs. But you don’t really spend any time thinking about how you’re going to do so.
A leading measure, on the other hand, entails asking what you need to do in order to meet your R10 000 or 10kg goal. As part of this, you might draw up a budget so that you can identify areas were you’re wasting money. Or you could review your diet and exercise regime to determine where you could make a change. A lagging measure is just a dream and a leading measure requires that you make a plan to turn that dream into a reality. As a leader, if you take the time to clearly define your business and leadership goals it’s more likely that you’ll be able to create an action plan that you can pull off.
When running a business, if you want to reach your leadership goals you can’t lead a team based on a vision that isn’t clearly defined. Leaders driven by lagging measures will make all sorts of promises without detailing what actions are necessary in order to reach their desired outcomes. If your plans seem unrealistic to you, chances are your team will think they are unrealistic too and they won’t support them.
Leaders mustn’t forget that progress is better than perfection. You’re not going to reach your leadership goals straight away. As long as you’re moving towards achieving your goals, you’re growing and that is hugely important.
If you’d like to read more of my leadership insights, head over to the Nebula blog. Or you can have this content delivered straight to your inbox each month by subscribing to our monthly newsletter below.