Have you ever asked someone “What Are Your Goals?”. As a business consultant, people expect me to ask them this very question when we meet and the truth is, I never do. I have tried to ask people “What are your goals” and I end up with a blank look. This is one place where I practice what I preach, and I’d like to share some insights if you have a moment.
Recently I found out my niece dropped out of college. My mother and brother were shocked, and yet I got it. The truth is I didn’t finish high school the traditional way. In fact there is some inconsistency in my high school track record. You see, I left high school with no goals and no direction. I joined the Air Force and had two choices without a high school diploma. Cook or Security Police. Yup, that was my start.
When my High School Counselor, Ann Hunter, would ask me “What are your goals?”. I am sure that the look on my face clearly said “Huh?”. Simply put I didn’t have any goals that appeared achievable. Rock Star? Couldn’t play guitar. Lawyer? Hated school. The list went on and on like that.
There was one thing I thought was achievable, but I honestly had no idea what it took to do it. I thought I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy so I could become a pilot and fly A-10’s. Admittedly I am still a little envious of those guys. My grades made that dream a foggy wish at best. But I did apply, simply because I didn’t know any better. When I didn’t make the cut for the Air Force Academy and I didn’t have a plan b I found the recruiters office.
My parents always said I could do anything I wanted to do. The problem was that I was a middle class American kid that didn’t want for anything. I was in a comfort bubble and didn’t really have a reason to push out. If you don’t want for anything, how do you know what you want to do? I only pushed out because I didn’t want to be a gas station attendant for the rest of my life.
Being in the Air Force was my first introduction into a way of thinking that has since changed my life. The funny thing is I ended up in the Air Force using this method, I just didn’t know it.
Sometimes we know where we are going, and sometimes all we know is where we don’t want to go. In church we all want to go to heaven, but we really don’t want to do the work to get there. On the flip side, we don’t want to go to hell, and will do what we have to in order to avoid it.
The Big “Aha” Moment.
When my wife was diagnosed with Cancer, it was quite late in the game. She was given two possible outcomes. Surgery goes well, she lives a normal life. Surgery misses something and 90 days is the life she gets. All the way home I kept asking “What do you want?”. We had the possibility of only three months together, and I was offering everything and anything I could do to make her dreams come true.
After three hours, she simply looked at me and say “I don’t want to die”.
That was my big “aha” moment. It was right then and there that I realized people have goals, like the blue ribbons Napoleon gave away to his troops, and staying alive like my wife. Some are seeking the positive, others are avoiding the negative. Sitting with my wife I realized that avoiding the negative might be more powerful that seeking the positive.
It there are no repercussions for not doing something, why do it? If you aren’t sure of the actual benefit of doing something, again why do it? Why leave your comfort zone?
We Are Only Human. Are Goals That Important?
The human endeavor is a journey unique to us as humans. We are blessed with the opportunity to avoid pain and seek pleasure. When you combine those two views in the right way, you will never have to think about your answer when someone says “What are your goals?”.
Each year my wife and I sit in front of a whiteboard and write down what we don’t want. Then we look at the opposite and make it in to the thing that we want. This method has proven very powerful and accelerated our success. We push each other to leave our comfort zones.
This year we had an epic journey to England and France that gave us a front row seat to the riots of Les Gillettes. It also led us on a journey through the French wine country where we landed in the middle of a buyers market for restaurant owners in France. They were buying all of the wine, meats, cheeses and desserts for the Christmas season. We wandered in, watched, listened and tried everything.
As the restaurant owners pushed out pallet after pallet of wine, we asked if we could just buy two or three cases. They sold us the wine at wholesale and sent us on our way. After talking with several families that owned restaurants in France, a conversation that I have wanted to have for a while finally happened.
My very first real job, not tossing newspapers or working in my Dad’s office was at a little shop called Danny’s Pizza Factory. I didn’t last long there, but the experience left a mark. Danny and his business partner grew the chain into what is now Pizza Factory. They dot the small towns of the western United States, and I have always wanted to own one or five. Sitting with a group of long term restaurant owners in France, made the idea look possible. Now building a restaurant is on my goal sheet. Not a Pizza Factory as much as I have a romantic attachment to them, but my own place. All because my wife pushed me out of my comfort zone.
The toughest part for people to understand is that there is no free lunch. My niece thinks that YouTube stars just shoot video and rake in the money. That is so far from the truth it is scary, but that is what YouTube wants you to think so everyone will do it. Yes, we post on YouTube too.
The part she doesn’t understand is that for every hour of video we post there is close to 100 hours of work. Quality doesn’t fall out of the trees on it’s own. It takes a team shaking the tree. When we post videos we bring in writing talent, SEO talent, TV grade or Cinema grade cameras and operators and we create a quality product for our clients.
When I ask a client what are your goals? I also ask are you willing to make the sacrifices needed to achieve them. Is your family on board? Are your goals achievable with the level of effort, skill and time you are willing to put into them. Many times, the answer to one or all of these is no. If it is yes and you want some help, that is why we are here.