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Most Important 4 Letter Word: GOAL 2005

Furniture World Magazine


“You're either remarkable, or invisible!”
  -Seth Godin

Yes, it's time. The time of year when we must take inventory. Not the one where we count the merchandise of our showrooms. Nope. We must take inventory of ourselves. Yep, you and me.

Webster defines goals as, “an effort, a destination, an aim,” to Successories, a website devoted to motivation and goal setting (www.MotivationUSA.com), “Goals are dreams with deadlines.”

The word GOAL can create two totally different environments. For some people the word stands for:

Going On About Life

For them, it conjures up another 4-letter word, RISK. These people like to live in their own personal comfort zones, thank you very much. They are happy to settle, because nothing, N-O-T-H-I-N-G is worth the PAIN (count 'em 4 letters) of venturing outside the zone. Risk, and change fall into the same category, and they don't want to play.

For retail managers, sales and design associates who just Go On About Life; doing well = complacency. They end up going with the status quo. They settle. Every task or challenge they face takes on a life of its own and seems too difficult to bear. Each opportunity may seem to be imbued with too much risk. These people, when faced with risks, often choose not to take a chance.

John A. Byrne, the editor of “Fast Company” magazine, asks the question, “Who's inventing the future today and making a difference for tomorrow?”

He asks the following questions to determine what a fast company is today:

  • Does Your Company, “Me, Inc.,” create an emotional bond with its customers?
  • Does your strategy stand out from the crowd?
  • Are you (your company) fun to work with?
  • How do you feel about change?
  • Are you as disciplined as you are creative?
  • Are you setting yourself apart? Are you making a difference for tomorrow?

The second definition of GOAL is:

Going Out on A Limb

In choosing to get out there on that branch, not only are you not complacent, you are a champion! In his book, “Free Prize Inside,” Seth Godin (also author of “The Purple Cow!”) says, “I call the person who makes an innovation happen a champion… It's not about good ideas. It's about selling those ideas and making them happen… Champions turn “no” into “yes.”

Let your biggest competitor be You! Compete with yourself on a daily… make that an hourly, basis.

Jon Katzenbach who wrote “Wisdom of Teams,” says that we must spend time developing a creative future.” He calls this process, “Feedforward.”

Making a difference for tomorrow is all about learning from yesterday (what did I do?), analyzing today (what am I making happen - now?), and planning for tomorrow (where am I going, and is it where I want to end up?) Yep, that sounds like “feedforward!”

Setting goals is easy. They are about what you could do. They specify what you plan to do. Where it gets tricky is what you actually do. This is where most of us “humans” get stuck. It's almost like we're super glued in place! We want to move but, we're just stuck!

Get Yourself UnstUck
Here is how Keith Yamashita in his terrific book, “Unstuck” defines the dilemma of being stuck. “Being stuck is all about human feelings. It's about feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, directionless, hopeless, battle-torn, worthless, or alone.” Wow! No wonder we don't want to move!

Let's look Yamashita’s “Serious Seven” states of stuck:

1. Overwhelmed
Description: Too much going on, not enough time.

Action Plan: Be clear about which mode you're in - What's the big
picture? What's working now? Avoid getting overwhelmed, crazed and going into overdrive or freezing. Either mode is not helpful.

2. Exhausted
You're paralyzed, burnt out.

Action Plan: Look at your watch. Companies that measure results against the time invested tend to out perform the competition.

3. Directionless
Description: No big picture. Action, but no results.

Action Plan: Put your ideas in words. Articulating it will help you see potential problems that can then be addressed.

4. Hopeless
Description: The passion is gone; you lack purpose.

Action Plan: Come up with a moon-shot - a big, ambitious goal to motivate you.

5. Battle-torn
Description: You're at war with yourself or your competition.

Action Plan: Choose a common enemy before moving forward.

6. Worthless
Poor metrics make measuring success impossible.

Action Plan: Prototype the end objective rather than constantly debating where you're going.

7. Alone
Description: You're not in sync.

Action Plan: Use public recognition and praise as a motivator.

Yamashita says, “There's no voodoo to how to get unstuck. It's about taking action everyday in a sensible way with a little bit of creativity and invention.”
One thing you might want to get “stuck on” is Yamashita!

Setting goals so that we know where we're going is a terrific way to leave the land of gluedom!

Today we really need to set goals because a “Design Revolution is going on. Fast Company Magazine points out that, “design thinking can help all of us re-imagine the day-to-day practices of business… An essential part of this revolution is the idea of design as a metaphor for the future of work.”

Become Different, But Don’t Join The Circus!
Roger Martin, dean of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, points out that, “Most companies over the past decade spent the bulk of their time on improvement. Now it's no longer enough to get better, we have to get different!”
John A. Byrne, the editor of Fast Company, really nails this theory when he says, “We have to believe that nothing can't be done, that constraints merely increase the challenge and excitement. The Design Revolution is about a new way of thinking that informs the way we will lead and create.”

This concept is exciting and directed to all of you on “that limb.” What an adventure what an opportunity. How about you? Are you going to set your goals to join “the cause” that the possibilities are endless? It's a terrific way of reaffirming that you can do whatever you want to do, and be whatever you want to be!

If you are now convinced that you want to join “the revolution,” you need to be careful before you participate in the activities under the big tent!

Seth Godin wrote a terrific article called “Send In The Clowns.” He defines clownhood this way, “Getting called a clown is rarely a compliment. Unless you want to join the circus, it's not much of a career goal, either. In addition to the obvious - painted faces and ill-fitting shoes - all clowns have a surprising amount in common. This is because of a simple truth: Clowns are based on us. They embody what's wrong with human nature, just magnified a bit.” He breaks down clownhood into four common traits:

Clowns Ignore Science:
Clowns refuse to measure their results, because measurement implies that they accept the reality of the outside world. Wishful thinking is not a replacement for the real world. Only clowns can get away with that.
Clowns Don't Plan Ahead: Sea monkeys don't plan ahead, either.

The only species that regularly demonstrates foresight is humans, but we manage to do this only on occasion… They work hard to maintain the illusion that everything is just fine - until it's not.

Clowns Overreact To Bad (or good) News:
We've all seen a clown burst into tears when he stubs his toe. Those same manic clowns are overcome with glee and laughter when something goes right for them. We can all be considered clowns in this regard.

Clowns Aren't Very Nice To Each Other: Clowns are most famous for willfully inflicting harm upon their fellow clowns. Whether it's a water bottle or a slap on the side of the head, these acts tend to get the biggest laughs.

If clownhood is our natural state (and I think it must be), then the alternative must be the anti-clown. Success lies in rejecting your inner clown and adopting a long range view of the world (even if it's just for five minutes longer than your competition). What would Chuckles or Bozo do? Figure out the behavior of a real clown - and do the opposite.

Take A Positive Approach But Not Too Positive
In their book, “How Full Is Your Bucket,” Tom Rath and Donald Clifton emphasize the importance of filling your bucket with positive thoughts. When your bucket is full you attract people with positive energy. This energy feeds on itself. It's a winning combination for the sender and the sendee!

“The Magic Ratio - 5 Positive Interactions for every 1 Negative Interaction.” If you can manage to stay above this ratio, your bucket will remain full.

However, positive approaches must be grounded with reality. We DO live in Kansas, NOT Oz! “A 'Polyanna' approach, in which the negative is completely ignored, can result in a false optimism that is counterproductive. There are times when it is absolutely necessary to correct our mistakes and figure out how to manage our weaknesses.” That's why setting goals on a regular basis, and dwelling in anti-clowndom are so important.

Develop Your Brand
Tom Peters, one of the great management gurus, coined the phrase, “Brand You.” The #1 tool in his “Brand You Survival Kit” is Reinvention. Today being passive is not being professional. If you want to be the boss of your own show, Mr. Peters suggests that you should:

Be a Spin Doctor:” Put the best twist on your job performance.

“Master Something: Competence in many skills is important, but it's not enough. The act is finding the stuff you love and getting so damn good at it that you become an indispensable human being.”

“Laugh Off the Fabulous Screwup: If you're growing, you're screwing up. You have to able to laugh off the screw-up and immediately move on to the next try. A sense of humor is mandatory for the Brand You attitude.”

“Work Obsessively at Your Craft:” Be obsessive. Be passionate. Don't let anything stand in your way. You're going to fall down. Getting up is what separates the pros, the people who excel. All the rest just exist. Which one are you?

“Embrace Ambiguity: You have to be able to change course without a bead of sweat, or remorse. All bets are off. You just can't 'deal with' constantly slipping and sliding circumstances; you actually need to thrive on ambiguity.

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted in Jon Meecham's great book, “Franklin and Winston,” as saying that “Franklin just can't wait to get into the Oval Office every morning because he loves the game so much.” You need to love YOUR game!

“Loyalty Ain't Dead: It's more important than ever. You have to develop a rolodex obsession, building and deliberately managing an ever-growing network of professional contacts.”

“Never Be Satisfied:” Re-imaging Brand You is not a one-time thing. You need to revolutionize your portfolio of skills. This is a minimum survival necessity. Uprooting yourself may be painful, but it's also exciting.

Become distinct by bee-ing a “Buzz Agent” for your Company, “Me, Inc.” Hey, What's the Buzz? Brag a little. Brag a lot! Get your clients “buzzing” about you. Dietrich Mateschitz, the marketing genius who turned Red Bull into a $1.6 billion company, says it's all about “buzz marketing.” Word of mouth is the most effective weapon in your arsenal. When you are a professional who is passionate about what you're doing for your clients, it's just natural for devoted fans to become your “hive of buzzers!” You get an ROE. Not a Return on Investment, but rather a “Return on Evangelism!” Yep, that's right, everyone will be singing praises!

Now is the time... your time. Get unstuck. Set goals so you

  • Know Where You're Going.
  • How You'll Get There.
  • Where You'll End Up.

As Seth Godin says, “ You just have to start. Start now. Fail often. Enjoy the ride, make something happen!” Come on. Find that limb! Start swinging!

Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T." She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at finney@furninfo.com.