Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Dilemma of Success: The Solution

So in my last post, I was discussing the inherent problems with being a person or an enterprise that is goal-oriented. In this post, I would like to present a solution that we can use as individuals or as companies that will allow us to not only reap the future benefits of being goal oriented, but also allow us to have the freedom and awareness to remain fluid in our approach. 

You may recognize this video, but take a look at it to remind yourself of what exactly was said:

Now when we finally made it to the moon, did we really gain anything from the actual event of man walking on the moon? No! The quality of life was not enhanced one iota for most people when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Was it a pivotal moment in history? Yes, but it didn't really change the quality of everyday life for people in the slightest.

So what did we get from the moon? Well as a nation, we developed the ability perhaps for better space flight. The goal also forced scientists to come up with better more efficient ways to develop space shuttles and mission control. You could also say that it paved the way for better satellite communications and information technology as a whole. But did all that come from Neil bouncing around up there?? No, that was just the victory lap! That's the same thing as saying a football player spiking a ball in the end zone is the reason he scored a touchdown.

What I'm saying is this: a goal is ultimately just the finish line. The value is not in the goal itself but in the processes, beliefs, habits, and abilities obtained en route to that goal.

Anybody who has ever been successful at anything will tell you that the achievement of the goal is ultimately anti-climatic. Which leads us to ask, what is the point of sacrificing present alternatives or even contentment for a future anti-climatic moment? It just doesn't make sense.

That being said, we can still reap the progressive benefits of being goal-oriented without having to go through every day in a constant state of lack, whether you are talking about an individual or an organization.

Instead of just setting a goal and going for it, break it down into what processes you'll need to achieve that goal. What kind of habits will you need to get into? How do you need to think about it? What is the best way to approach it? Why do you want it in the first place? What skills will you need to master?

An example of the difference is this: let's say you want to make a million dollars in the next five years. You can either learn ways to make it or win some sort of sweepstakes, which one would be more valuable to you? Well, the future value of learning how to make it on your own far exceeds the winning of any sweepstakes because all things being equal, the processes, habits, skills, and approaches you've obtained along the way will probably allow you to do it again and again even further down the road. That is why there are so many turnaround stories of millionaires who lost it all then made it all back again because they had acquired the necessary processes to replicate their success many times over.

By being process oriented, rather than just goal oriented, we create a success engine more like a car rather than a pump-cart on a railroad track. Goals require us to push, processes only require us to steer. What would you rather do? :o)

Think processes and habits. Goals and objectives will change often, processes and habits will not.