Without a Goal, you can’t Score

“without a goal, you can’t score” …and you are probably somewhat de-motivated…

In sports, the goal is very clear. In football – a 24ft by 8ft steel or aluminium frame with a net… so you can clearly see if the ball goes in.

In sports, the victory condition is very clear… more goals than the other team.

In our lives, some people take the time to get clear on their specific goals… and they know when they score.

Others have only a vague idea…

Others are just kicking a ball in the dark.

Clarity on your Goals: in sports, and in life

Here’s what ChatGPT has to say on my sports metaphor and its application to our lives…

  1. Clarity of Purpose:
    • In sports, particularly in football, there’s no ambiguity about what the objective is: to get the ball into the goal. This clear-cut aim provides direction to all the players on the field.
    • Similarly, in life, having a well-defined goal can give a person direction and purpose. Knowing what one wants to achieve can be a guiding light in making decisions and choosing paths.
  2. Measuring Success:
    • In football, success is often quantified by the number of goals scored. The more you score, the closer you are to winning. It’s a tangible, measurable outcome.
    • In life, having specific goals allows us to measure our progress. Whether it’s a career aspiration, a personal project, or a health objective, breaking it down into measurable milestones can help us track our progress and celebrate small victories along the way.
  3. Motivation and Drive:
    • Players on a football field are driven by the adrenaline and the desire to score and win. The clarity of the goal amplifies their motivation.
    • Similarly, having clear goals in life can be a powerful motivator. When we know what we’re striving for, we’re more likely to put in the effort and stay committed. In contrast, lack of clear goals can lead to feelings of aimlessness or stagnation.
  4. Navigating Through Darkness:
    • The analogy of “kicking a ball in the dark” vividly portrays a sense of confusion and aimlessness. Just like a footballer would struggle to score without seeing the goal, individuals might find it challenging to achieve success in life without knowing their true goals.
    • Knowing where the goal is can be the difference between random, uncoordinated efforts and strategic, purposeful actions.
  5. Flexibility & Adaptation:
    • While the primary objective in football remains the same, the strategy might need to change based on the opposing team, field conditions, or even the game’s current score. Having a clear goal doesn’t mean there’s only one way to achieve it.
    • In life too, while our main goals might stay consistent, the pathways to achieving them might need adjustments based on changing circumstances. Clear goals allow for better judgment on when and how to adapt.
  6. The Power of Visualization:
    • In football, players often visualize the trajectory of the ball, foreseeing their moves. This visualization is anchored around the clearly visible goalpost.
    • In personal and professional pursuits, visualizing our goals can be a powerful tool for manifestation. When we have a clear vision of what we want, our mind and body can work synchronously towards achieving it.

The world of sports offers rich metaphors for understanding the significance of goals in life. Just as athletes need a clear target to direct their energies towards, individuals can benefit from defining and visualizing their life goals. This clarity can be the driving force behind actions, decisions, and eventual successes.

Active Patience vs Passive Patience

There is an old story of a person trapped on the roof of a building as floodwaters are rising.

A boat passes and the occupants shout “come down, we’ll take you to safety”. The person says “No, God will save me”.

Another boat passes. The occupants shout “come down, we’ll take you to safety” The person says “No, God will save me.”

The floodwaters rise and the person drowns. At the gates of heaven the person asks God “why didn’t you save me?” and God replies “I sent you two boats, why didn’t you accept my help?”

On Being Active while Being Patient

Passive Patience is waiting for what you want.

Active patience is preparing yourself to be maximally prepared to find the right types of opportunity, and to have the skills, resources and network to really make use of the opportunity when it finally comes.

Inspired by Shane Parrish of Farnham Street blog:

More on “Stand in the Traffic”

Where opportunities come from

Jim Collins says that “Return on Luck” is one of the significant factors in extreme success.

It is not that successful companies or people have more luck… it is how they follow through on their lucky breaks that makes the difference.

One person might meet someone who could open a door of massive opportunity… but doubt and confusion mean that they don’t pursue the chance.

Another might meet the same person… and have the motivation, vision and competence to take the opportunity and turn it into a gold mine. Whether you are lucky or not today, you can invest in developing your clarity of vision, your competence, your network of trusted relationships – to be ready to maximise your return on luck when an opportunity comes to you.

Where Opportunities come from

“Stand in the traffic”

Prof Paris de l’Etraz, IE Business School, Madrid

Whilst luck is not controllable… there is something that I can do to increase the chances of lucky breaks occurring.

Prof Paris de l’Etraz of IE Business School in Madrid teaches a course on managing your life. One of his sessions is titled “Stand in the Traffic“. He says that it is important to place yourself physically and mentally where many opportunities are likely to flow. Your sofa at home is comfortable… but no opportunities are flowing past. If you spend your days at a business school… a lot of people, ideas and opportunities flow past.

Lucky Opportunities tend to be Stumbled Upon

The author of the Atomic Habits book, James Clear, has a wonderful weekly email newsletter. Here is a thought that he shared on opportunities…

from James Clear…

“Lucky opportunities tend to be stumbled upon, not handed out. 

If you’re waiting for someone to hand deliver an excellent opportunity to you, it’s unlikely to happen. But if you are exploring and moving—if you’re in the mix and engaged—then you’ll stumble upon many opportunities. 

The active mind comes across a lot. Keep tilling the soil and you will occasionally unearth something wonderful.”

Have a great Sunday.

If you liked this post, you will also like How to be Lucky (4 ways to improve your luck) and Serrendipity.

Days vs Years

Our emotional experience of life can depend on the time horizon we choose to look at our lives.

If you look at the progress of your life each day, there are many wild swings.

If you look at the progress of your life over longer time horizons, the wild swings blur into the background and a more steady sense of progress emerges.

Which lens are you using to look at your projects? and your life?

Redefining Failure

“Living Safely is Dangerous”

Nietzsche

What is your relationship to success and failure? I have been reflecting these recent weeks about how I respond to “failure” – when things do not turn out as I hoped or wished.

The video below shares my thinking about a better way of approaching failure in our lives.

How I let failures derail me…

I let small failures easily put me in a state of frustration and stop me making progress (and then checking social media and seeking out other simple distractions).

I take small setbacks incredibly personally.

I’ve been reflecting on why I let these small failure events have such an effect on me.

I realised that I was telling myself that all setbacks are bad.

This is not a great story to tell myself. A new story is that failures are a sign that I am working towards important goals. A lack of setbacks would be a demonstration that I am only working towards easy, unimportant goals that don’t push me to grow as a person.

Essential Meaning of failure: (from Merriam-Webster dictionary)

  1. a lack of success in some effort
  2. a situation or occurrence in which something does not work as it should
  3. an occurrence in which someone does not do something that should be done

Errors of Omission: What are you not doing that you should be Doing?

Warren Buffett often says that he is less scared by the errors he has made than by the sheer enormity of all the opportunities that he never even saw as they passed him by.

Your progress in life is far less linked to whether you execute perfectly on the things you actually act on, and far more linked to whether you are able to see great opportunities as they pass you by.

In psychology we define 2 types of error:

  • Type 1 – poor execution and
  • Type 2 – never even seeing the opportunity to act

Our psychological makeup has us much more worried about the type 1 errors – because we are fully aware of them. We should be much more worried about the type 2 errors, because they are the ones that make the biggest impact on our trajectory through life.

How to find Opportunities (increase your Luck)

“Every opportunity is attached to a person. Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They’re attached to people. If you’re looking for an opportunity — including one that has a financial payoff — you’re really looking for a person.”

Entrepreneur and investor Ben Casnocha, Source: James Clear’s (excellent!) weekly newsletter
meeting Verne Harnish 😉

My life is an example of this quote in action. The most transformational opportunities in my life have come to me through people. I would not be teaching at IESE without Brian Leggett opening the door for me… not just to teaching, but even to the idea that I might be able to teach. I would not be involved with Vistage without Verne Harnish.

In both of these cases, I didn’t even know that the opportunity even existed. I was not looking for the opportunity. It took the vision of the other person to see a path for me that I would never have seen myself.

The power of people luck is that others can often see an opportunity that you cannot see yourself.

Return on Luck (especially People luck)

meeting Jim Collins 😉

I had the privilege to meet Jim Collins a few years back in San Diego. A powerful idea that Jim has shared is “Return on Luck”. Over several years, Jim and his team investigated the hypothesis that “successful people/companies are just luckier”. They defined what it would mean for a life event to be considered “luck”:

A luck event is one that meets 3 criteria:

  1. not predictable
  2. has consequences
  3. outside of my control

Jim and his team looked at successful and unsuccessful companies, and leaders, and identified every luck event that had occurred.  They found no difference in the absolute number of luck events.

Successful People & Companies are not Luckier

There is no difference in the absolute number of luck events in the lives of successful or unsuccessful companies or leaders.

However, Jim and his team did find a difference in what happened after the luck event… Once luck happens… how do you respond?

Jim calls this “Return on luck”. Once a “luck event” has happened, there is a big difference in how successful and unsuccessful companies and leaders respond.

The luck event happens… then what?  You meet the girl of your dreams and say “Nice to meet you” or you say “I want a coffee, will you join me?”  You meet a key person in the company you dream of working for… what do you do with this moment?

When something lucky happens in your life, do you seize it and take action?  Are consistently getting prepared for future luck events in your life?

Dwight Eisenhower taught military strategy for years at West Point… when he accidentally got the chance to present his ideas to General Patton after Pearl Harbour, he had been practicing for years how to present a military strategy. He turned a chance meeting into a promotion to general, and then on to President of the United States.

Jim says that the most valuable type of luck is People luck… and knowing how to create a Return on People Luck is transformative.

How to be open to people luck? How to create a return on People luck? These are my questions…

Ingredients to increasing people luck:

  • Meet more people
  • make a better first impression
  • share your life vision in a way that others wish to help
  • bring opportunities into other people’s lives (introduce them to others, think about who and what you know that could help others, ask good questions to find out what they are seeking)
  • thank anyone that helps you (written note better than an email)
  • have a blog, youtube channel, articles, posts on linkedin that consistently clarify who you are and where you are going
  • join organisations where great people bring interesting opportunities (business schools, Vistage, EO, YPO, Rotary)
  • speak on stages at conferences
  • what else?

Ingredients to increase return on people luck:

  • learn who they are – ask better questions – become deeply curious
  • be trustworthy (the trust equation)
  • become better at demonstrating your appreciation
  • create more opportunities that you can offer to others
  • what else?

3 Recommendations from Jim Collins:

  1. Seek clarity. Clarity of speaking comes from consistently writing your ideas down
  2. Choose Excellence. Excellence is the fruit of a conscious decision and commitment to long term disciplines (that are not easy for anybody)
  3. Seek Evidence. Evidence matters (especially in living our own lives)

If you liked this post, you will also like Stand in the Traffic and Fully Committed: Success comes from Putting 20x More behind your Opportunities.

Choose your Hard (…because in Life… it is all hard)

I heard a recent Jordan Peterson video where he expounded on the concept “Choose your Hard”. This video has some of my reflections on the choice. Choosing hard today makes a difference. Not choosing hard is a choice… and it has consequences.

I love Pep Mari’s wisdom around true commitment. I shared his 4 levels of commitment in a previous video here: Pep Mari’s 4 levels of committment.

…and here is the comment on Linkedin that triggered my second part of the video: 17 habits is too hard for most people.

Great Strategy without Great People is nothing

Ideas + Capital + Talent = enduring great business.

Ideas are everywhere, nothing special about an idea.

Capital is plentiful for those who have proven themselves. Today there is so much capital sloshing around looking for moderate returns.

The Scarce Resource…

Talent, true talent… is rare.

Talent isn’t potential. Talent is systematic repeated high performance over years or decades. This is extremely rare.

Potential talent looking for capital will not find it. Capital doesn’t invest in testing talent… capital invests in proven talent.

How do you become “proven talent”?

That is the question.

Reps vs Hours

What matters most in the gym? The hours you spend or the reps on the weights?

In the areas where you must be highly competent to succeed in your role: are you accumulating hours or reps?

Do you just do your job or do you spend time practicing the important skills that make you effective?

By practice, I mean “deliberate practice” – setting an intent, taking action, getting feedback, reflecting on original intent vs actual result, seeking new approaches… and repeat the cycle.

Thinking about writing is not writing. Publishing an article and listening to reader feedback is how to do reps.

Thinking about exercise is not exercise. Lifting the weights, pushing through discomfort, sweating… is exercise.

Thinking about difficult conversations is not having difficult conversations. Having challenging conversations (for you and for the other) and seeking productive conflict is how to do reps.

Thinking generates hours, but does not generate reps.

Be careful of equating hours (or years of experience) as competence.

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