The best demonstration of how our goals get skewed and we get sucked into a world we don’t belong in is in the corporate world. I have experienced success and failure in corporations, and for a while I let it define me. For a while I was “the company man” and felt good about it. Then things changed. All my work, my nights away from my wife and kids, the chest pains and other stress related symptoms all came to nothing when I was overlooked for a promotion during a restructuring. I had the best numbers of anyone, and yet it seemed my inability to play politics cost me – this has been something of a theme in my life if I am honest.
One phrase I used to hear during those days was “You’re only as good as your last month.” (Frustrating as it is, it’s not as bad as “perception is reality” – that one really gets under my skin). Literally, you could be the best by a country mile, and the next day, on the 1st of the month your hard work means nothing. Back to zero again. One month my team crushed the district in one important metric and I received a phone call at 7am on the 2nd of the month because the numbers on the 1st was bad. Yep – that’s the corporate world, and I am sure people reading this can well relate to it.
Why do I share this? Because ultimately meeting these goals has little to no value – and deep down, we know it. I have a ton of awards sitting in a box somewhere, but my kids don’t care. The only one that is anywhere on display is the big Mickey Mouse from when we won a trip to Disney, it’s been in my son’s room since he was about 8 or 9. I doubt he knows or cares where it came from, what it represents or how I got it, and why should he? It’s Mickey Mouse, that’s all that matters. It came at great cost of many hours away from my family, and nights in hotel rooms eating trash and feeling lonely.
I am not the only one to have lived through this void, and millions of people are doing it on a daily basis. We allow other people’s goals to become our goals. In many cases this isn’t a bad thing, we go further when we work together, but we need to find a way to make both happen, and make sure the goals have value – and the best leaders are able to connect the goals of your organization to those you have for yourself and bring value.
Here are today’s three takeaways:
1 – It isn’t wrong to want to achieve for the place you work for, but you need to work on your own goals and dreams as well.
2 – Value what is important. Is a plastic award for manager of the year worth an early grave or a disconnected home life?
3 – Think of your personal goals, and ask how you will get them. What one step can you take today to make it happen?
I know, I said we would look at sport psychology. This comes tomorrow as we look at some ideas on connecting personal and team goals. The way things are going, we could turn this into a trilogy of trilogies.
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