To be an effective leader you have to master both goal setting AND goal getting. Too often we focus on goal setting at the expense of goal getting. It’s one thing to set big, hairy and audacious goals (BHAGs), but without commitment to a system – process, routines and habits – we’ll fail to achieve our goals.
A woman, passionate about the violin, once traveled a long distance to see one of the world’s greatest violinists perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. Carnegie Hall is one of the most prestigious concert venues in the world for both classical and popular music. The violinist completed another brilliant performance, and received a standing ovation. After the concert the woman met the violinist backstage. On meeting the violinist, the woman said, “Sir, I would give my life to play like you.” The violinist replied, “Ma’am, I did.”
For me this story illustrates the importance of commitment to goal getting. Often it seems that we approach goal-setting with a huge amount of focus on the goals and forget to devote as much time on the systems required to support the achievement of the goals.
You may be asking what is a this “system” you keep talking about? Well, a system consists of the processes (a sequence of activities) and the routines (daily habits) that when acted upon help move you towards your goal.
For example, if you’re a swimmer and have as your goal winning an olympic medal. Your system will include the processes, routines and habits you need to achieve your goal. Your processes may include a proper diet, a training plan, reviewing videos of other swimmers and a specific workout strategy. Your routines are your daily habits, such as eating at the correct times, daily swimming practice, breathing exercises and perhaps even visualisation, etc. Successful sportsmen understand the importance of a well designed system.
“Champions aren’t made in the ring, they are merely recognized there.” — Joe Frazier
Everyone has a number of goals, but it’s commitment to a system that makes the difference.
Anyone who has set and achieved a goal understands the importance of a system. The processes, routines and habits, that support the achievement of a goal. Let’s explore this in more detail how to go about building an effective system to help you in goal getting.
Start With a Clear Goal
Effective goal getting systems begin with clarity concerning your goals. Effort without purpose is wasted effort. As Simon Sinek presented so well in his famous TED talk, and expanded in his book “Start With Why” (which I highly recommend), successful leaders place the why before the how.
Successful leaders know the why, they have a vision and a purpose that guides everything they do.
A clear why ensures you don’t become a slave to the system. A clear why helps you use the system to support your goal getting. Successful leaders set their goals first, they take time to get clarity on their why.
Create a Daily Routine
To be effective at goal getting you need to build a process and daily routine. To do this you will need to shift your focus from committing to a set of goals, to committing to a process and routine. You need to commit not only to the goal, but more importantly to a system for achieving the goal. To develop such a system you start with your goal and ask yourself the following two questions:
- What is the steps do I need to take to move towards my goal?
- What are the daily habits I need to develop to support each step? Those activities or tasks that if done repeatedly will move you towards your goal.
For example, suppose my goal is to write a book. The process, the steps I need to follow to write my book may include the following steps:
- Identify a topic
- Research and conduct interviews
- Develop an outline
- Write a draft
- Refine and edit the draft
- Check grammar and spelling
- Publish and market
All good. Next. What is the daily routine I need to support this process?
To support this process I would need a daily routine that may consist of the following habits:
- Reflect on my goal and the process each day for 10 minutes
- Brainstorm ideas for 30 minutes
- Exercise for 45 minutes to allow for the incubation of ideas
- Read for 60 minutes or conduct an interview
- Write 1000 words
I think you get the idea.
It’s this daily routine of habits that makes all the difference.
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle
Successful leaders figure out a routine, those critical daily habits, that help them achieve their goals. And every day – no matter what – they make sure these habits get done. In this way they move a little bit everyday towards achieving their goals each and every day.
When you commit to a system you always win as you’re making progress everyday.
If you’re committed to becoming a successful leader having goals is necessary, but not sufficient. You must also be committed to a system that helps you take action daily.
Benjamin Franklin used a system to help him achieve his goal of living a virtuous life. In the same way you an I need a system to help us achieve our goals.
Do you have such a system?
If not, take some time out this week to develop a system that will help you achieve your goals. After all is said and done, it’s what you do daily that ultimately determines your effectiveness as a leader.
“Action expresses priorities.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi