Steps, step Cha- Cha-Cha…
I may shock some of you with my next statement, but I will say it any way. Forget setting goals, yes you heard me, forget setting goals. There I have said it.
No I have not gone mad or had a temporary knock to the head. I am completely conscious and fully aware of what I have just said.
You will all have previously heard me say that the key to success is goal setting and that the statistics claim that businesses who plan, outperform those that don’t to the tune of 80%. Even my Success Workshops that I used to run had goal setting as the major theme.
So, why the change of heart then? Well let me explain. Goals setting on its own is a false prophet, an empty wish or dream of something for the future. At best it is deferred gratification living for the tomorrow instead of focusing on the here and now today.
I hear too many times from intelligent business owners that if they only could get one more customer then their business would take off or, if they attend this training course then they will be able to achieve greater success, or even if they could earn another £50k per annum they would be happy. Yes these are goals and even with a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) application they only serve to frustrate the owners and in essence slowly chip away at their confidence or self-belief.
The real key and elixir of success is to commit to a process, not a goal.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to sit in an auditorium and listen to one of the world’s greatest Olympians Sir Chris Hoy. Sir Chris was speaking at the National Entrepreneurs Convention at the ICC in Birmingham about his historic achievement of 6 Gold Olympic medals (and the one silver). He was recounting some of the key moments that led up too many of his achievements. There was a lot to take in and when someone this accomplished speaks, it is wise to listen. One story resonated with me and, applied to business rather than sport, should change the way you think. It did for me when I realised this aged just 7 (more of that later), of course at the time I didn’t know. Anyway I digress…back to Sir Chris who was talking about his training and his regime. Yes, he did have a goal of winning gold at an Olympic Games, but at that time he was not even the best in his club, in his age group, in his town. In fact, many of his colleagues and his coaches thought he was mad.
A lot of people will put Sir Chris’s outstanding success to that determination, foresight and that goal setting, however Chris does not. He firmly puts it down to the systems and process that he followed, adopted and routinely delivered. Even training over a Christmas period, as he knew his competitors would not, this provided Chris with a small advantage. He fully acknowledges that it would be madness to believe that he could predict what level his competitors would get to and achieve, so he knew that he just had to do more, consistently, be better prepared and more rehearsed for whatever his competitors threw at him. He went on to say he had no idea at what level they would attain but knowing his gruelling diary and agenda they would have to have beaten that.
You only have to look back in history to the giants in their fields: The Beatles, the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates, the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (the world’s largest and success law firm). All of these are cited in Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book the Outliers. Gladwell examines factors that contribute to these examples of success. He looks at cultural differences, intelligence, and decision-making, however his conclusion is that success in general actually comes down to the simple principle of the 10,000 hour rule. A simple premise that practicing a specific task over and over again (around 10,000 hours) creates expertise and in return success.
I remember reading about David Beckham, who admitted himself was not the most talented footballer on the planet, but would be found in his local park until the day light had gone kicking a ball into the football net over and over again. Resulting in him becoming one of the world’s most famous footballers and of course that fateful day, 6 October, 2001. England was 2-1 down and it was the last minute of the game. England needed a draw and Beckham stood 30 yards from goal with a free-kick. The rest is history as everybody watching that match knew where that ball was going to end up. This was not about goal setting, this was all about the process of kicking the ball 10,000’s times into an empty net, so when he stepped up it was just following the process and the muscle memory helped an historic event unfold.
I recently wrote about it being all in the head or not, (if you haven’t read it you’ll have to read it now – see the blog posted in April 2015It’s all in the Head” I alluded to the fact that success was more about external things such as process, systems, workflow, checklists etc. The SCALE Model, which I have developed over the years, was founded from a principle of systems, based on a philosophy I started to learn at the mere age of 7 (a few years ago now!).
It was during the summer of 1974 that I was sat in a village hall (my babysitter had been called away) watching my sister compete in her local dance competition. Allegedly I was fascinated by the whole event and soon entered the world of Ballroom and Latin American dancing. I had a few lessons and one Sunday joined in what was referred to as a ‘party dance.’. At this fun event a visiting judge mentioned to my teacher that ‘the boy’s got a bit of rhythm and talent’ and ‘you should find him a dance partner’. To cut a long story short I did get a partner and started entering competitions at a local level and then a national level. The aim was to get to the final of the 8-10-year-old Cha Cha at Butlins Bognor Regis. This was a big deal as my teacher would be presenting the award. We embarked on a gruelling routine of Monday-to-Thursday practice, every evening. Saturday was lessons and more practice then Sunday competitions to get some kind of gauge of our progress. This process/routine continued for over a year until the big week Easter 1977, the week of the competition. Yes, we had a goal but more importantly we designed and followed a process and the result, we made the semi-final, final and yes we actually won the overall competition. I have the pictures to prove it!
This result and way to it; provided me with a key principal for life that became a fundamental element of my SCALE model. We knew we could not affect what our competitors were doing or chance the fact that we really wanted it by setting a goal, it was all about the process and that’s what provided the success…