Monday, January 17, 2011

The Dilemma of Success: The Catch 22 of Being Goal Oriented

I think we've all have heard of how being goal oriented is one of the habits of highly successful people and enterprises. I know we all can see how being goal-oriented makes logical sense as to why it can lead to success. However, there are some pretty non-obvious things about this mind frame that I'd like to point out.

When an individual or an enterprise becomes goal-oriented, they are essentially saying "Here is my goal. I chose this goal to enhance something to a state of betterment." Because of this, an acknowledged state of discontent is an absolute must. In other words, in order for a goal to become a goal, a person or enterprise has to be willing to admit to themselves that the current state of their objective is inadequate and warrants becoming better

Discontent is the fuel of the "goal-oriented locomotive". Without discontent, the engine does not function and the train doesn't move. The dilemma that this introduces is that being goal-oriented requires one to constantly be in a state of discontent. So my question to you is this: how do you think that mind frame affects the interpretation and experience of the present moment?

In my mind, I believe it seriously diminishes both the experience of the present moment and the value of present and future alternatives. A goal-oriented mind frame both has the advantages and disadvantages of hyper-focus. The advantages being the intensity of one's focus and the disadvantage being one's lack of awareness of equally valuable alternatives.

I think we are all familiar with the image of a ladder when it comes to success, however I feel that this image is inadequate and restrictive. The problem with a single ladder is that it restricts you to only two directions: up or down. Have you ever seen firefighters using only one ladder to put out a fire? Rarely, they usually use multiple ladders and even if they were were to use one, they'd move it around. Instead I think when it comes to success, you are better off thinking of it more like this:

Who would have known that you were already learning the principles of success when you were playing games as a child? Ha! This image is a lot more applicable to success because inevitably, success is rarely in a straight line (i.e up or down). You can ask any successful athlete or entrepreneur about this and they will agree. A setback isn't necessarily a step down but could also be one in a whole new promising direction, just like a promotion or an advancement could be a step ultimately in the wrong direction of where we want to be.

All that being said, the inherent value of being goal-oriented is undeniable when it comes to success, but it comes at the high cost of constant discontent. Is there any way we can have our metaphorical cake and eat it too?

Believe it or not there is, which I am going to discuss in my next posting...