Hitting Your Targets
Goals are something we are constantly besieged with, but sometimes struggle to keep in focus. Our intentions are good, but sometimes we are just off the mark.
My favorite story that exemplifies this is from my childhood. Like many young boys in Texas, I went hunting with my dad. When we first started hunting together, I was 5. I wasn’t allowed to carry a gun, but I went. We were duck hunting and my father gave me a little book that showed all the different kinds. There was a picture of the birds, the pattern they flew in, the sound they made, and other identifying aspects. My job for the first few years was to identify what types of birds were flying. In fact, certain birds were against the law to shoot—so this was serious. The lesson? Be sure of your target before you pull a trigger. I invested hours in this book. It was actually several years before I was allowed to carry a gun. As you can imagine, I was a bit excited when I did. It was a cut-down Remington 20-gauge bolt-action shotgun. Effective range was probably about the same as a slingshot… Not too far, but it was mine. I had my gun over my shoulder and even a bunch of extra shells in a bandolier. I was one bad 8-year-old. All I needed were some spurs… Cha-chink, cha-chink, cha-chink…. We got down in our blind with dark painted faces. Then we waited… and waited… annnnnnd waited…. I had my gun ready. I scanned the horizon like a sentry protecting his city. No duck was getting by… And then off to our right, we saw them… A mass of birds that I immediately identified as teal. They are fast, shifty and small. A challenge for sure. I was up for the challenge though. My dad put his hand on me as if to say… patience…patience….patience… And then suddenly he said ‘NOW’ and I jumped up and POW!!!! The gun went off and the pellets flew. A bird was hit and came crashing into the water. Success!! My dad was beaming. A smile from ear to ear! What a proud moment. His only son had listened to his teachings and put them into action. Wow…. Slowly he looked down at his son with near tears in his eyes and saw not the excited face he expected, but a blank one. A face without real emotion. He didn’t see a child excited due to an accomplishment, he saw one with a look of despair! ‘What’s the matter,’ he said. Slowly, with puppy dog eyes, I looked up at him. I wasn’t happy. He repeated, ‘what’s the matter?’ …Finally I looked at my now very confused father and said, ‘That wasn’t the one I was aiming at…’ I learned the lesson from him of knowing what you are shooting at for sure. He learned the lesson that I was going to need a little more practice aiming.
We are driven as a species to hit targets. It is in our primal hunter DNA. Have you ever set a target and missed? Has your team ever come up short of where you thought they should be? Worse yet, have they come up short of where theythought they should be? Setting goals should be a team event with everyone’s buy in. The goals should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and timed. Where do you want your business to be at year-end?
How about 5 years from now? What is your plan for your employees’ future? How are you developing them as well as yourself? The most important piece is to at least have some goals. If you are not growing, you are dying. Set aggressive goals, break them into chunks, then work a plan to achieve them. And if for whatever reason you miss a shot… reload… you will get another one if you are ready.