This is an angry blog-post, fuelled by failure and feeling lost.
Trying to “get what you want” and “achieve goals” has driven me mad.
At the age of 35, I’ve had enough.
It may have started with my parents, who either pushed me towards goals or didn’t stop me from my own endless pursuit of the achievement of goals. It continued in school, where top grades were sought out for no reason but their own apparent top-grade value. And since day one in the corporate world, it has been shoved down my throat by Covey-inspired managers …and later reinforced by performance bonuses and general back-slapping. It hasn’t stopped. Goal, goal, goal. Do, do, do. Achieve, achieve, achieve.
But in a world where it is “good” to achieve targets, I fear that this achievement itself has become some kind of altar at which people like me pray. But where is the god of purpose for which this altar was erected? Without that, the prayer of achievement loses all sense.
When you get into the process (and life) of setting goals and achieving targets, it is fun. You can put ticks in boxes and say “I succeeded”. If you have an app like “Lift” you can share your goals and your success with other people, who will congratulate you for being like them and achieving what you all set out to do.
But I wonder how many people installed “Lift” and did like I did, just browsing though the habits and goals to choose from and picking things that sounded cool, then setting their goals? Or sat down on New Year’s Eve (or performance-review day) and asked themselves “What goal can I have for next year?” Like an achiever’s buffet-bar. Eat all you can.
In my own case, with the “Lift” app, it would surely have been better to actually have a real goal in mind (or better yet, some sense of purpose) before downloading the app and then use it’s social reinforcement mechanisms to help me get it done. But that’s not what I did. I heard about an app that let’s you share and track goals and thought it would be “good” just because it helps you share and track goals and because that is in itself a “good thing”. I think I am obsessed with (or at the very least, attached to) achieving. And apps that help you achieve are “good”. But what am I actually achieving? What is it all working towards?
And so I write this angry post: Goal-setting and achieving targets is bad. Dangerous. Goal-setting should be a means to a purposeful end, but for workaholic, other-oriented, self-esteem-seeking people like myself, it becomes the end in itself. And it is an end which goes nowhere when you lack any sense of what is “good” or purposeful outside of the goal itself.
As of today, instead of setting goals outside of myself for things to get, be or do I am going rather to focus on looking inside and stripping away everything I don’t want to get, be or do. I have always been told that I should create smart goals that are positive and focus on what I want to achieve. But since I now reject goals and don’t really know what I want to achieve, I will just be negative. I will instead focus on what I don’t want and just see where that takes me. Instead of trying to make a pretty garden with no clear vision of what “pretty” is, I am just going to focus on pulling out the weeds.
Maybe when everything is stripped bare and I’m left with nothing to be, have, do or achieve, I’ll know who I really am, what I really want and what can be done.
I suspect that then I will probably no longer care about goal-setting and achievement.
Just the garden itself.
Having just completed delivery of a 4-day Leadership Training with @KluwerOpleiding (thanks @MiekWouters for the chance to have a small group :-)) I thought I’d share the email stream that built up from me to participants over the 4-days. Loads of references here…
References DAY 1
- Here you can find a list of leadership competences outlined by previous trainees
- Check out the film from Al Gore’s ex-speech writer Dan Pink on the DRIVE wall
- To see a list of ideas from previous trainees on how to bring FLOW into the organisation, click here and click here to see all their references from the FLOW wall
- If you would like to read my thoughts on P.E.R.S.O.N.A.L goal-setting, check this link
- See what google’s VP for HR says about people management skills
- Remember ROWE?
- For book references, check www.shelfari.com/dansteer/shelf
- 7 Habits
Homework / Preparation DAY 2
- Do the exercise found on this web-page
- Have a look at this webpage (wall) http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/leadership-drive – please add something of your own – a reference, link, comment or idea about DRIVE
- Fix 1 SMART objective concerning your development as a leader
References from DAY 2
- Get some more information here about Albert Mehrabian who told us about words, intonation and everything else
- The problem with 1-way communication
- …and 3 tips if you are obliged to do things 1-way
- I told you that you would care about why I see Citroen Xsara Picasso’s everywhere…. read here to see why
- I found this link for some information on seating politics and room dynamics – I’ll let you judge the quality of info…
- For more information about Sun Tzu follow this link. To read “The Art of War”, follow this link – position is the key to strategy!
- Check out Charlene Li’s book “Open Leadership” which discusses the key issue of giving up control when allowing people more freedom
Homework in preparation for DAY 3
- Think of a problem you have (professional or personal). This will be used in day 3. You will be asked to state your problem and ask for help…
- Think of a difficult communication situation or difficult person you have had to deal with (personal or professional)
Here are the references from training DAY 3
- “Coaching for Performance” by Sir John Whitmore for more info on how and why to use the GROW model
- Check out my blog-post of my favourite SWOT questions (used during reality/options assessment of GROW) and tips on how to use SWOT
- 10 things you can learn from David Brent about performance evaluations
- 2 additional references about performance evaluations
- Meritocratic performance management systems: A short article on how some people feel about it
- Another idea on performance evaluation process: APOP (Annual Piece of Paper)
- Here you can find some info on PAC ego-states
- Book references can always be found on http://www.shelfari.com/dansteer/shelf
- Coaching for Performance
- TA Today
Homework in preparation for DAY 4
- Prepare a 1 minute presentation of yourself – anything is fine, we just need some data to use for a feedback exercise, so no stress!
- Please think about additional topics to cover in group coaching session in the afternoon of Day 4
References DAY 4
- Here you can get a lot more information about Jef Staes and Red-Monkeys
- Read this blog page for notes on what leaders can do to bring change to the organisation
- Read what Dummies has to say about giving feedback
- Read about logical levels – interesting to use in coaching..?
Hope this was interesting
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