Monday, April 29, 2013

So what do you want? Courage and Goal Talk

Would it surprise you that many of the people who lead others to achieve their goals have a really hard time creating compelling goals of their own?  I don't have research to back me up on this, but I have a lot of experience of people who are excellent coaches and who struggle with their own goals.  They may struggle more than other people.

The more we think about goals, the more we admire the courage it takes to own them.  Imagine that someone walks into the room where you are reading this and says "So... what do you want?" It's likely that there are not many ways to say this that don't sound like a challenge. Wanting something is challenging: it means:
1) taking some of the attention you use to keep yourself safe and putting it to work on finding opportunities instead,
2) admitting that if you don't get what you want, it's going to hurt,
3) deciding you are good enough to do what you want to do.

It's probably true that many people choose to work for organizations largely because someone else will tell them what to want. With their own choices limited, some of the pressure is off and they can pursue goals with all the energy it would take if they were to choose goals of their own. The problem, of course, is that organizations are less reliable than they used to be at providing life-long goals. We live in an age where having goals feels dangerous and not having goals is also dangerous.

So use the gentlest voice that lives inside your head and ask quietly, calmly, insistently, "if you knew what you wanted, what would it be?"

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