Can Goals Limit Our Potential?

It’s nearly 3 weeks since the start of the year.  How are those resolutions going?

When a man has put a limit on what he will do, he has put a limit on what he can do.” – Charles Schwab

Whether personal or professional, most people looking for success have the practice of setting goals for themselves or their teams.  While goals are a good practice, we must also be cautious about their side effects.  Allow me to share 3 personal observations:

  • Narrow Mindedness
    • Some of us are so goal oriented that our sole existence is to complete what’s on our to-do list.  We get extreme joy from being able to put the check on that box.  But what happens if in the middle of completing our tasks we miss the opportunity to connect other successful people or miss the chance to experience a different way of getting things done.
  • Not enough stretching
    • Since we like to complete goals in order to feel successful, we might get into the habit of setting goals that we know we can complete with minor effort.
    • In other words, we set goals for ourselves that are right in our comfort zone and we make them sound like they are tougher than they really are.
    • Consider the under-promise/over-deliver mindset.  This advice is given many times in result-oriented companies in order to guarantee beating expectations.  In sports, they call this sandbagging.
      • The problem is if we already know we can do better where’s the challenge? How are we getting better?
  • Being the best at
    • This statement generally implies comparison to others.  It’s okay to be the best at something.  It just begs the question: compared to what?
      • If we are the best in the junk pile, it doesn’t change the fact we junk.  A good example of this is the division 3 MVP that thinks he/she is all that when in reality there are 2 more divisions better than the one they are in.

At the end of the day, what decides if we were successful or not is knowing if we did the best we could.  In the words of John Wooden “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

What do you think? What are others ways our thinking limits our growth?



What is your experience with this concept?

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