If First You Don’t Succeed, You Haven’t Failed Enough!

If at first you don't succeed, you haven't failed enough.

As a humorist, I want to clear up a very important misconception: I am not a motivational speaker. I drive high content through laughter and use stories to help make the point; but, truthfully, you have to motivate yourself. It’s a proven fact that we retain things longer if they make us laugh, because it stimulates our brain through concrete examples. So, as I attempt to drive my point home with this blog on goal-setting, I don’t want you to set your sights on principles as much as results.

Several years ago, Michelle told me I was presenting in the Bahamas. No big deal. I’d been there a hundred times. This was different; I was going for the first time in my own airplane. While flying to Missouri, I turned to Dave, my pilot, and said, “Hey, Michelle says we are going to the Bahamas next month, and I looked at the schedule. Let’s just fly on down after our trip to Ft. Lauderdale.” Dave looks at me and says, “That’s over water!” Got to love these college-educated young people. They know their geography! “Is that a problem?” Dave said, “Well, I don’t guess so…”

So, here is the real problem, Dave is from the middle of the country—no mountains and not many big bodies of water—just flat land where you can set an airplane down just about anywhere you want if something goes wrong. I thought it was time for a teachable, goal-setting moment. It was unlike other teachable moments I’d had with Dave. Like the time we got to altitude, and Dave remembered that he forgot to go to the bathroom. That’s not a problem in a commercial plane, but it’s a big deal in a private plane (no bathroom). No port-a-potty, just a 30oz. sports drink bottle. I looked at the sports drink. He looked at me. My solution was as follows: I’m drinking this, so you can have the container; but if I have to go, you’ve got a bigger problem, so tell me before I commit.

Now, getting back to Dave’s issue, the storyteller/goal setter in me kicked in!  “Dave, when I was a young teacher, I played golf with my boss every Friday. We played at a course on the lake and the sixth hole was a par 3 island hole. Every time we would come to this hole, my boss, Eric, would dig out an old, cut-up golf ball and tee it up. This particular day, I said ‘Whatcha doing Eric?’ He said, ‘I’m getting out a water ball!’  See, Eric had already decided where he was going to hit his drive—in the water. I told Eric to dig out a two-dollar ball, tee it up, and put it on the green and to visualize his success. “You see, Dave, we aren’t going to the water. We are going to the Bahamas!” Dave nodded and agreed he would take the necessary steps for us to fly to the Bahamas.

On the trip, and just about half way from Florida to the Bahamas (what is lovingly referred to as the point of no return–one of those flying terms like the word terminal that builds confidence in the safety of flight), Dave said, “You never finished your story!” I asked, “Which one?” “The story about your boss and the golf ball.” “Oh, he hit that new ball right in the middle of the lake!”

Goal setting has the connotation that your final result will be successful. Not so, young grasshopper! Practice does not make perfect—it makes permanent. It does, however, give you a map to a desired result (it just doesn’t guarantee the desired result). My desire is to get you to understand that there are no guarantees in life. Everyone doesn’t get a trophy, and everyone who gets on the merry-go-round of life doesn’t grab the brass ring. Some of us fall off the ride! There are some real lessons here. You aren’t going to get the prize egg if you don’t hunt, and you are not going to hit the bulls eye of success if you don’t aim (and while we are on the subject, don’t shoot arrows straight up in the dark. Don’t ask).

Here are some goal-setting truths that will get you closer than you think:

My Six Proven Steps to Goal-Setting, or How to Find the Gold in the Hills!

You have to have a specific goal in mind.

If it’s getting your first big sale or your next big opportunity, you can’t do it if you can’t see it. Be specific and put it where you can see it, and more importantly, tell everybody. It will keep you honest (secret goals are a whole lot harder to achieve).

You have to have a specific time in which to achieve your goal.

To be the Master of the Universe tomorrow works for super heroes, but I think I would settle for small, achievable tasks. Crawl, walk, run worked in the past might, so, it might be a good guide here.

You have to write down your goal.

Don’t skip this one. WRITE IT DOWN. Sorry, caps stuck—NOT!

You have to develop a plan to achieve your goal.

Don’t get anal retentive here. KISS: keep it simple, sugar.  Write you goals and track them—not too close in or too far out to manage.

You must decide the price you’re willing to pay.

You can’t have it all, and life is a balancing act. You can make as much money as you want, but having no time to spend it with the people you love isn’t a win-win.

You have to think about your goal every day.

Like, first thing in the morning while you are brushing your teeth, and last thing at night while your brushing your teeth, and think about your plan in between. (If you don’t have teeth – get creative).

Now for your reality check: no plan is fool-proof, and stuff will happen that will derail your attempts! Just remember two things. Thing One: someone is going to find the gold in them hills, and you have to move a lot of dirt to find gold. Thing Two: before you succeed, you will suck for a short time. (Dr. Seuss wrote a great book about both of these things!) Good luck and happy trails.

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