Growth Goal

“Growth is the only sure evidence of life.” -John Henry Newman

In business and in coaching we often speak of establishing SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound). Checking off SMART goals can create a mental trophy case of accomplishments and achievements. The practice may also have a dark side of accomplishment addiction and anxiety.

If you have a high need for achievements, then you need to read “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck and “Flying Without A Net: Turn Fear of Change Into Fuel for Success” by Thomas J. DeLong.

Achievement addiction can create enormous drive and motivation to achieve great accomplishments. It can also mask an extremely fragile ego or sense of self which requires constant protection from the harsh reality of needing to accept responsibility to change. The need for achievement can force a person into only pursing accomplishments which are safely within one’s strengths and area of expertise. We tend to repeat variations of past successes instead of risking feeling like a beginner and needing to practice and learn new strategies and techniques to blaze new trails. We would rather not try than risk failure or feeling incompetent. We become a mere caretaker of the fixed monument of our past success. We live a life of repeat, rehash and face-saving self-preservation. We stop growing and risk stagnation and obsolescence.

What if we make our SMART goal for life growth? Can one redefine accomplishment to mean not what one has done, but by measuring how much one has grown? Can getting better at being human be as satisfying as getting successfully done? A growth goal will not ask what have you achieved? Rather the key question will be what have you learned? Do you want to get done with life or get better?

Who could you become if you focused your efforts on growing up?

A Must Read for Anyone Who Has A High Need To Achieve!

Can old dogs learn new tricks? Absolutely.

Do highly accomplished high-need-for-achievement professionals (very talented old dogs) like to risk feeling like a beginner and novice to learn something new? Absolutely not!

Unfortunately, the path to growth runs through feeling anxiously vulnerable and exposed. Why do that when one can rest safely on one’s laurels? Because a sure sign of life is growth!

Of you are a professional eagle who has gotten too comfortable sitting in your nest, reading “Flying Without a Net” can get you soaring to new heights of professional growth, achievement and satisfaction.

Feeling a little too comfortable in your mundane nest of past accomplishments? Afraid to learn what you need to so you are equipped to take on a new challenge? Need a spark? Read Flying Without a Net: Turn Fear of Change into Fuel for Success by Thomas J. DeLong

Warning: reading this book may cause you to live Fired Up!

Why Can’t I Do What I Should Do? Skill VS Will

A tricolour Basset Hound.

A tricolour Basset Hound. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all have tasks which we believe we “should” do if we desire to achieve some goal. If one knows what one “should” do and believes one “should” do it then why is it so hard for one to do it?

Does one know how to do it? Whenever one has a gap between actual and desired action or performance, a great place to begin is to ask oneself if one knows how to do the task. A great test to see if someone has the required knowledge and/or skill is to ask, “If someone offered a million dollars to compete this task, could I get it done somehow?” (Note: hiring someone else to do the task and pocketing the rest of the cash is not an option.) If one could complete the task given a significant incentive or coerced to complete the task to avoid a significant harm or punishment, then one knows what to do and how to do it.

GETTING ADDITIONAL TRAINING WILL TYPICALLY NOT BE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL IN MOTIVATING ONE TO COMPLETE A TASK! Teaching someone how to do something better which they already know how to do but choose not to do, is usually not very effective in motivating someone to do what they don’t like to do. So what’s missing?

longhaired Basset Hound

longhaired Basset Hound (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does one have the will to do the task? Is there significant internal motivation to satisfy a need or desire to complete the task? We all are able to sometimes do things we really are not interested or hate doing. Why can we do these sometimes and other times we are unable to rise to the occasion? Denying a natural need or desire to go against one’s natural motivation and choosing to act in a way counter to one’s nature requires resilience and willpower and comes at an emotional cost. Studies have shown willpower requires significant energy and if one expends all of one’s highly limited willpower reserves, one is unable to overcome one’s natural resistance to self-denial of one’s internal motives or base desires.

Dr. Steven Reiss, PhD has studied human motivation extensively and has created a motivation theory which categorizes basic human motives or desires into 16 common motives. You can read more about Dr. Reiss’s theory at If one doesn’t fully understand and appreciate what drives one’s internal motivation/desires, then one is easily blocked and frustrated. When we don’t get our needs satisfied, we tend to get frustrated and this too is draining. Frustration and willpower are tough to power at the same time. Unfortunately, frustration outlasts willpower and we give up as we run out of mental steam.

In many situations one may wish to “fix” or “educate” someone who is not meeting one’s expectations in a personal or business relationship through teaching them the “error” of their ways or selling them on a new path to personal wellness. This will be successful in the long-term if the client or subject is internally motivated to use this new knowledge or skill in a way which satisfies a significant need/desire. It’s news one can use. If not, the behavioral change will at best be temporary and under stress, the client/subject will typically revert back to natural behavior based on personal need satisfaction.

Determining if a performance gap or failure to adapt to a change is a resulting from a lack of knowledge/skill or a lack of will is often the key to determining the lasting effectiveness of any performance improvement intervention. Too often we try to teach a sheep to sing and end up frustrating both the sheep and the teacher. There is an apt coaching admonition which says, “A coach cannot want a player to play better than the player wants to play.” It’s typically best to hire the best players one can find and afford and not try to teach sub-par, unmotivated team members to success through coaching and training. If someone simply does not have the will to do what s/he knows how to do, then until s/he finds an internal motive to do the task which is greater than the natural resistance, the odds of successful behavior until completion are small. We each chase our own hybrid of motivational carrots.

Why are you not achieving your full potential? What are you forcing yourself to regularly do things which fizzles you out even if you are good at doing them? Is frustration holding you back from peak performance? Are you chasing the right carrot for you?

A Reiss Motivation Profile® can be an excellent starting point on life’s motivational marathon. If you would like to discover what naturally motivates you, please send me an e-mail at and we will schedule your personal RMP consultation.

Basset Hound

Basset Hound (Photo credit: Philippe Guintoli)

Learning to use your strengths to satisfy your needs/desires is a surefire way to live Fired Up!

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