Three belief secrets about achieving your goals

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On a team that you know has the potential but needs a little something extra to get cooking? I’ve been in that exact situation many, many times in my professional career, working with people who were incredibly talented but for one reason or another, their potential was staying locked away. Sir Ken Robinson said once that human resources are exactly like natural resources – it takes time, effort, and energy to dig out human potential and transform it into something useful.

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One of the most useful tools for mining that potential, for bringing it to the surface, is goal setting. However, goal setting is more than just putting up endposts on a football field and then hoping that the players know what to do. Goal setting also involves belief setting, creating a three-part belief in your fellow team members. When each member of your team believes in all three parts, they become incredibly motivated to want to go the extra mile, to unleash their full power, to do whatever it takes to get the job done, to hit the goal.

The three part goal beliefs are:

  • I believe in the goal, that it is worth achieving in an ethical sense.
  • I believe in the process, that there is a clear path to the goal that I can travel.
  • I believe in my team, that we are all aligned and focused on the goal, and will support each other to achieve the goal.

Each of these points is vitally important. A goal has to be worth achieving, not just in a financial or numerical sense, but in a higher sense, an understanding that the goal (whatever it is) somehow makes the world a little bit better. This is the part that drives passion, that drives motivation, that makes people volunteer untold hours a year for their favorite charities, that keeps people working long after everyone else has gone home. If the goal doesn’t make the world a better place in a clear fashion, strongly consider abandoning it.

A goal has to have a means of getting there. It’s fine to set a goal, but without a method for achieving it, it’s a daydream at best, a lazy wish rather than a process or recipe to follow that will get you to your destination. When you are setting your goals for yourself or others, think carefully about how you plan to get there.

A goal, even individually achieved, still has to have the backing of the people around you. No woman or man is an island. Everyone up to this moment in your life has in some way participated in getting you get to where you are. If you want to achieve your goals faster, more effectively, more powerfully, and more happily, you need the right team at your back to help you up when you fall down and cheer you on when you’ve hit a hot streak, with the understanding that you’ll do the same for them.

Take this triple secret to your next goal or mission and see if you can assert each part clearly, compactly, and strongly. If you can, I can promise you that you’ll get to your goal faster and arrive happier.

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3 responses to “Three belief secrets about achieving your goals”

  1. I would add that if you are the leader of the team, that you also make clear that the benefits of achieving the goal flow to the team, not just to the hierarchy. If you believe that reward and recognition each have significance in the value proposition, then you will agree that the 3 points cover the why of the equation, but there still needs to be a suitable carrot for everyone to clearly understand.

    Humble and serving leaders can often get the best performance from their team and willingness to share the goodies is a big step along that path.

    Great post. Thanks.

  2. I coach volleyball and I think the most important part of our year is goal setting. Your post just reiterates what I’ve been thinking. They’re very powerful but you must have the goal belief’s set in place. Thanks a lot for this, I can see myself coming back to this again and again.


  3. I have witnessed this first-hand many, many times. Both successfully, and in full-blown flameouts. People (even very smart and talented people) want to be LED. They want to believe that their abilities are being focused and applied in a constructive way where 1+1=3. Is it possible for a group to succeed without strong leadership? Yes. But it’s unlikely.

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