Rise To The Challenge

I have had to sit through a lot of trainings, speeches, presentations, and all manner of nonsense in my time. There are a few, like Alan Duncan (if you need any corporate training happening, this is your guy) who keep things engaging and useful. There are others who, well, aren’t quite so engaging. Anyway, one time I worked for an amazing company that no longer exists and the CEO would have us all go down to a 3 day meeting. It was a meeting unlike any other, and Alltel still remains one of my top two jobs ever. At one of these meetings we had a guy speak to us about mountain climbing. Yawnarama, right? Wrong!

This mountain climber was clearly not an entertainer, but if you have any interest in psychology and goal setting, this guy was the man. I so much wish I could remember his name. He had climbed something like 5 of the top 7 highest mountains in the world and gave an amazing speech. And here is how this is relevant to this week’s theme. He didn’t train for Everest from day one. He set smaller goals along the way.

The point is that we train to meet the challenge before us. The mountain climber trained for smaller mountains, always keeping his eye on the ultimate prize of Everest. When he achieved one goal he would move on to the next, then the next, and he would keep going until there was nowhere else to go. So what happens when we run out of competition? When Everest is conquered, what next? Do you keep training for something bigger? Of course not, there isn’t anything more. And this is the point. We will only train for what we have to face. If we don’t have competition, we won’t train for it. Even if that competition is beating our own score and getting a person best, if we don’t have the goals we won’t achieve anything.

If you want to achieve your goals but you are struggling find some competition and put in place a consequence that you really don’t want to have happen, and a reward that you really to want to have happen. Put someone else in charge of it, set your goal and a realistic time to meet it, and if you set up the right reward and consequence, you will meet it. One last thing, which I have spoken about before. When this guy spoke, he said one important thing about setting the right goals. The goal isn’t to climb Everest, the goal is to climb Everest and get home.

Here are today’s three takeaways:

1 – Setting small goals, building your confidence and feelings of competency will help you achieve the bigger goals.

2 – People often fail because they achieve a goal and have no follow-up. When the goal is met, they simply stop.

3 – It is important to have something to focus on. When you have no goals and no competition, this is when stagnation sets in.

It’s easy to stagnate. It’s easy to feel dominant when you are the big fish, or even the only fish in the pond. The reality is that at the point we have decided we own the pond, that’s when you get so slow and comfortable that you are easy game for another predator. I remember that during one of my most successful times in my career I set up a friendly competition against another location. Our teams enjoyed the banter, and we both became highly successful, dominating other locations our size. We did it just by wanting to beat the other location, and through constant improvement we both became stronger and had success. Sometimes your competitor is the best friend you have. That was at T-Mobile, many years ago, the other company in my top two.

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