Great Goals Are Bigger Than You
I’ve been looking back at my 2015, and in a life I’m proud of, this may be my best year yet for setting and reaching goals. I’ve watched and nurtured my baby daughter grow into a gregarious, curious, and precocious toddler. I’ve watched and nurtured our baby company grow, get noticed, and deliver on promised results for 100% of our clients — those that hired us for a 1 hour improv “taste”, and those that hired us for in-depth, multi-day training. I’ve met awesome people and established meaningful connections around the world and in sectors ranging from community service to industrial manufacturing giants to elite military trainers and beyond. I met and exceeded most of my goals and accomplished things I hadn’t even thought to dream of yet — and it was easy (in a way).
And it’s not because I’m great.
It’s because I’m finally starting to realize two truths on a deeper level than I ever have before. My daughter taught me. She’s twenty months old.
- I can’t do it on my own. And…
- Humans like to help.
All the greatest strides I’ve made this year for myself and my company have come through the help of others. People all around me are bending over backwards to help. They always have been, though I haven’t always noticed, and haven’t always believed them. But get this. It’s true. They mean it. Just like I mean it when I offer to help. I take great satisfaction in being of service to others.
For instance… This week, I’ll cook a meal — big enough to provide tons of left-overs — for a friend. He’s launching a business and could use a no-fuss home-cooked meal so he can concentrate on the sprint he’s running. This year, I connected four job seekers with their dream employers because I could, and I wanted to see them succeed. I introduced podcast hosts whose work I enjoy to guests I know they’d value having on their shows. I did it because I like to help. And I’m not at all unusual. You probably get off on helping others too, even with no promise or likelihood of payback. It just feels good.
So, because I can’t do it on my own, I started accepting the help others were offering me more than I ever have before. Some of that help I paid for, as it came in the form of professional services rendered. In exchange for some of the help, however, I simply said, “thank you.”
This second lesson about how profoundly true it is that humans like to help, I learned only by fully embracing the first lesson: I can’t do it on my own. Like so many of us do, I played my goals close to my vest. I didn’t share the small ones. And I didn’t share the big ones. I didn’t share with many people where I was, and where I was hoping to get. So how could people possibly help me achieve my goals? Few people knew, so few even offered.
In 2015, I made a change. I started telling everyone (everyone) about my goals: large and small, personal and professional. I didn’t tell every person every goal. I wasn’t dramatic about it. I told everyone about at least one goal. And I told them in a matter of fact manner without any expectation.
It goes like this, “I’m looking for some dinner.” And like this, “I want my company to bring the communication, collaboration, and decision-making awesome of improv to law enforcement.”
As soon as I started to share my goals with people that way, they started offering to help in ways large and small. Not everyone, but lots of people.
I also became more generous with myself. I’m offering my help more, and I enjoy it. Helping nourishes me, teaches me, and leaves me fulfilled. Where I once feared that helping others would diminish the time I could devote to my own goals, I’m finding that what goes around comes around in the most unexpected of ways. And with that experience of fulfillment and value in my own heart and mind, when others say they want to help me, I believe them.
How can you surpass your goals without breaking a sweat?
Here’s my challenge to you, and my delivery of the no-sweat promise of this article’s title.
THE GOAL-SMASHING, HOPE-SURPASSING CHALLENGE
A. You can’t do it on your own:
- Start telling your goals — large and small, personal and professional — to everyone (everyone). This may feel strange and uncomfortable at first, but it’ll get easier. And you’ll find that people are truly grateful to you for opening a meaningful conversation. This has two incredibly powerful benefits. First, once you tell people, you are accountable to those goals. Second, people will offer to help.
- When people offer to help, take them up on it. Believe that they actually want to help. The great majority of them do. They are not just being polite. It’s easy enough to be polite without offering to help, so the offer is genuine. It is, in fact, not polite to disbelieve what people tell you about their own desires.
- Remind them of their offer to help. Do this politely, gently, infrequently… But do it. Remind them. I know this is challenging. It’s part of believing them when they told you they wanted to help. Offer to help them help you. For example, if someone says, “I should introduce you to Bob.” A week later, if you haven’t heard from them, drop them an email. “Thanks for your kind offer to introduce me to Bob. Here are some times I’m available for coffee with you both.”
B. Humans like to help:
- Ask other people what their goals are — large and small, personal and professional. Ask people you know. Ask people you don’t know. You don’t need to get a laundry list. One or two goals per person is plenty.
- Help in any way you can. If your profession lines up with their goals, offer to help in a professional capacity, and trade your help for their money. If not, find a way to help anyway. Keep an open mind about what would be helpful. (Introductions, referrals, book recommendations, a friendly ear, a quarter.) Your help might be very indirectly related to their goals. (My friend is working his tail off to launch a business. That launch is his goal. But, in passing, he said, “I don’t know how I’m going to eat this week.” I offered to cook.) Maybe your help will be minor, maybe major. Either way, it could tip the scale. You needn’t put yourself out a great deal to make a great difference.
- If you can’t see a way to help, ask. Heck, even if you can see a way to help, it could still pay to ask. The question is simple, “How can I help?”
C. Start helping the people you know by sharing this challenge today:
- Share this article. Use email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever social media you’ve got. If you see value here, so will others. Or, just share its ideas in conversation. Let’s shatter not just our own goals, but the goals of everyone we come in contact with.
- Share your goals (as described above).
- Ask about their goals.
Priming the Pump
I’ll start the ball rolling. Here are a few of my goals (some larger than others) going into the new year:
- Inspire 100 people to tell me their goals in just the first week of 2016, and help each one of them in some way.
- Double the number of clients in our subscription-model company-culture upkeep program.
- Bring the communication, collaboration, and decision making awesome of improv to law enforcement agencies in at least three communities.
- Create a world in which my daughter is destined to have a workplace she loves, a work product she’s proud of, and a vocation she can look at and say, “That’s worth the life I’ve given it.”
Tell me a few of your goals. Whether I know you or not, I truly will help if I can. This is your chance to start the New Year off powerfully. Don’t let this opportunity go by.
Help me reach my first goal:
- Take the challenge.
- Share the challenge.
- Tell me your goals.