Set “awesome” goals: the rest will follow

Unlearning how to win: it could take you to places you cannot imagine

I’ve been influenced a lot by The Last Word on Power, a book on leadership by Tracy Goss.  It’s quite difficult to get hold of now so I’ll give you the gist of it.

First, we’ve all got to where we are through using our “winning strategy”, defined as: a lifelong unconscious formula for achieving success.

“You did not design this winning strategy, it designed you. As a human being and as a leader, it is the source of your success and at the same time the source of your limitations. It defines your reality, your way of being and your way of thinking. This, in turn, focuses your attention and shapes your actions, thereby determining what’s possible and not possible for you …”

Once you accept that you can learn new skills and new ways of thinking, virtually everything becomes possible. It’s just a matter of finding out how

So, your winning strategy is the set of thinking patterns and actions that you’ve learned to use to get what you want. It’s how you set goals, how you respond to problems, how you engage with others, etc. You learned all of this without being consciously aware of any of it. It’s your “background programme” that gets you through life, running underneath your conscious mind.

Every winning strategy is limited in what it can achieve and the limitations of your winning strategy set the boundaries of what’s possible for you.  Anything that can’t be delivered by your winning strategy is outside your “realm of the possible”.  And your assessment of what’s possible and what isn’t is very often made unconsciously! You don’t even consider many options because they’re “impossible”.  You just know they are before you even look at them – so you don’t look into them!

If you want your life to change, then you’re going to have to do some things that you haven’t done before. They’ll probably be outside your “realm of the possible”. But that doesn’t mean that you can never do them. It just means you need to expand your winning strategy to bring those things inside your range of what’s possible.

Once you accept that you can learn new skills and new ways of thinking, virtually everything becomes possible. It’s just a matter of finding out how.

But that’s not all!  Another lesson from Tracy Goss’s book is the power of committing to “impossible goals”.

Many of us avoid committing to anything we don’t know how to do. How can you promise, even to yourself, to achieve something when you don’t already know, in detail, how you’ll do it? This is another aspect of the winning strategy getting in the way – it restricts you to only attempting those things that are similar to what you’ve done before. So is it surprising that nothing seems to change in your life?

But as soon as you commit yourself, you start to notice opportunities. It’s as though your unconscious mind stops looking for reasons to do nothing and starts looking for things that move you towards your goal.

For example, you could set yourself the goal of saving the equivalent of 5 per cent of your income by the end of the year. That seems fairly easy, just a matter of cutting back a little here and there. In fact it may seem so easy that you don’t actually do anything about it and so fail to save anything! But you’ll end up more likely with a modest nest egg and perhaps be able to afford a treat or two.

In contrast, it would probably never occur to you to set out to save the equivalent of 100 per cent of your income. The idea is absurd! Clearly impossible and not worth considering for a moment.

But what if you did decide that you wanted to do just that?

Well, now you’re going to have to do something different. You’ll start to look for money-making ideas as well as money saving. Do you need a better paying job? What part-time work is available? What skills have you got that someone will pay for? What possessions can you sell? Can you make things? Can you partner with someone who’s got money to start a business? Do freelance work from home? Start an online business?  Buy and sell antiques? And the list goes on.

If you decide to go for it then you’ll begin noticing the opportunities that have always been there but weren’t relevant to you before. You’ll begin to make money.

Of course, success is never guaranteed. So what if you only manage to accumulate 70 per cent of your target? Is that a failure? If someone offered you 70 per cent of your annual income in cash now, would you dismiss it as inconsequential? Of course not. You may fall short, but it will be short of a high target. If you only set out to save the 5 per cent you might not even make that!

Now, your goal may have nothing to do with money, but the same principles apply. An “awesome” goal will move your life on. If you want it enough then you must commit to it.  Accept that you don’t know how to achieve it, but still begin to act as if you mean it. Plan the actions you know about and identify the first step. Then take that first step.

The rest will follow.

By David Rawlings