Goals: the most powerful question

By Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company LLC

This week I was working with a recently-promoted executive at a non-profit organization to develop and articulate his goals. He had a broad list of possibilities in all areas of the organization from marketing to fund-raising to administration. Some were easy, some challenging. We began to talk about choosing his main focus.

There was one goal, completing a new information product, to which he felt passionately committed. In his previous position he had already accomplished a lot of work to develop the product, including building a strong team to work with him, and it was a project close to his heart. He thought it would be his main focus.

Then we asked the most powerful question: of all your goals, which one will change everything? Which one is the greatest game-changer?

Small change, big difference

Small change, big difference

A goal may be ambitious, compelling and important, but still not deserving of your best effort. In this case, because he had already developed a team to work on the new product, that project could go forward with relatively little direct effort on his part.

The executive’s response was immediate and certain: he wants his main focus to be another goal, one that will in subtle but profound ways steer his organization in a new and better direction. It also is a goal that makes use of his unique skills, knowledge and perspective.

In light of the powerful question “will this change everything?”, he was able to see which of his goals would actually have a greater and more durable positive impact on his organization. His primary goal for the next 18 months will be the less obvious choice, his game-changer.

Among your goals for 2009, which ones have the potential to change everything for you? Let us know by leaving a comment here.


1 comment so far

  1. Jane Campbell on

    My explicit goals were almost all continuations of 2008’s. Will any of them change everything? Not even the GOALS changed. Can this be good?

    However, the project that almost caused my husband to explode (real and comprehensive organizing excellence at home and in home office) showed its impact immediately (his objection is that I’ve resisted all his efforts).

    Check back Dec. 31, 2009 . . .

    Margaret writes: Jane, here’s something you may find encouraging: Most people wildly overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what they can achieve in three years. Comprehensive organizing excellence sounds like more than a one-year project, especially when it includes exploding spouses. We’ll be checking with you on 12/31/09 — and beyond.

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