“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” – Lewis Carroll

We have all heard this quote many times. Knowing where you are going (having a goal) makes it easy to find the road that will ‘take you there.’  A goal eliminates confusion and prevents working on the problems that will not help achieve it. A goal helps you to focus on only the problems, out of the many that surround you, that matter, the ones that will ‘take you there’. Amazingly, many organizations and individuals do not have a goal. In an organization this is caused by either poor communications, weak leadership or both. For individuals it is from not taking the time to stop and establish priorities.

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Principles are critical to choosing your goal. Your principles will lead you to the best goal and give it a lasting, solid foundation. A properly selected goal will give an individual or organization the confidence of clear direction. The shared knowledge of this goal empowers everyone in an organization to work together, powerfully toward a common objective. This gives both the individual and individual members of an organization the knowledge and freedom to act, producing timely results!

Now, let’s examine how having a goal helps solve problems. It is easy to be overwhelmed in business and personally by the number of problems that surround us. Randomly attacking in every direction seems futile and as a matter of fact, it is. Years ago I came up with a metaphor to illustrate how goal setting gives focus to the problems that matter and eliminates the rest.

Let’s imagine you just attended the Super Bowl and the game is over. You are in the middle of the field, surrounded by people that are very tall and well, you’re not. Your goal is to find where you entered the stadium because that is the exit you will use to find your bus. You look around and see nothing but belt buckles, purses and back pockets. You are surrounded 360 degrees with decisions. Which person do I  go around and should I go right or left. Survival school will tell you without a compass or some form of direction you will wander around in circles. Then you look up and above the heads of the crowd you see the flag pole on top of the stadium and you remember it is above the opening where you entered. Suddenly all decisions evaporate into just those that take  you toward the flag pole.

We call this “The Flag Pole Theory”. The analogy demonstrates the value of having a goal. It shows how a goal eliminates working on anything but the problems that take you toward it. While still surrounded by problems you can now focus, on just those that matter. If you are with a group and scattered, with a common goal, you will all arrive at the same exit (your common goal). While simplistic, this metaphor will help you find ‘the road that takes you there’.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”. – Henry David Thoreau 


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