This is the fourth in a series of blog posts about achieving more by rethinking failure. In this post we get to see how you can overcome the motivational slump characteristic of tough STEP goals, how to remove the possibility of failure, and how to maximise RAMP goals.
Two weeks out from the end of the trans-Atlantic rowing race we were losing badly. We were 70 miles behind the leaders.
We had tried catching them but nothing had seemed to work. The effort just to keep up was immense and it was looking increasingly like we were putting ourselves through hell for no particular good reason. There was a huge temptation to stop trying as hard and coast into the finish. After all winning is everything, and no one cares how far behind second place comes.
This is classic STEP thinking.
In the last blog I introduced the idea that challenges are RAMPs or STEPs based on when you get the benefits of taking on the challenge. When more effort leads to more benefit (like going on a diet) then it’s a RAMP. When it’s all at once, like defusing a bomb, it’s a STEP.
In this blog we’re looking at how you might use this idea to help you figure out:
- if you should continue when you’re in the middle of challenge and it doesn’t look like you’re going to make it
- if you’re wondering if you should even take on a challenge because you might not complete it
- if you should even take on a tough challenge
- how to approach your challenge when it’s a RAMP
- how to deal with the risk of serious failure if your challenge is a STEP
This is the third in a series of blogs about how to achieve more by rethinking failure. In this post I make a distinction about goal targets and goal benefits and explain how that leads to a new way to thinking about your challenge.
If we know one thing about goals, we know that taking on a goal means trying to reach a target. That’s the ‘S’ in SMART goals. That’s the ‘Specific’.
But hang on. That’s wrong already. When we take on a goal it’s not because we like to set targets, it’s because we want to get some benefit. So when do we get the benefit?
Is it all at once, when we achieve our target, or do we accrue it along the way?
Perhaps, because we see it so often in sport and competitions, we tend to think that all our goals have that same sharp division between getting a lot of benefit and getting a lot of pain. If we don’t reach the goal then, we’ve not only failed, but worse – the whole challenge has been a waste of time. But is that really the case?
This is second part of a series of blogs showing how we can achieve more by rethinking our attitude towards failure. In this blog post I’m looking at why you might want to take on a tough challenge.
You might be thinking that this point is blooming obvious. I thought so too. Then I was giving one of my workshops about how to take on tough challenges, to a group of admin staff, and, so we could get into the fun stuff I asked the participants to come up with their own tough challenge. It’s a slightly awkward question, but most of the group started scribbling away in the workbooks. However, there was also a certain number of thin-lipped cold stares coming from people sitting mostly at the back. These people were very happy with just the way things are thank you very much.
This post is for them.
So you’re thinking about taking on a tough challenge.
By tough I mean one that you know you should do, or it would be great to have done, but you haven’t been able to get yourself over the line and actually commit to whatever it is. It could be something big like writing a book, starting a business, learning to do a back flip, or launching a land war in Asia. Or something small, like cleaning the garage. Whatever it is, if you could wave a magic wand you’d want it done, but when you think of the work required and the risks involved, then your motivation wilts. Your enthusiasm is on life support. There is a pulse, but it’s feeble.
You know you’d be better off doing it. Why is it so hard to get started?
How can you shape the event and guide the speaker to ensure that you get the best return on your investment? This is a process that I’ve been through a few hundred times so here are my thoughts about some good questions and not so good questions that you might try asking or avoiding when briefing your next speaker.
We are inundated with opinion, theories, views, speculation, ‘can’t’, nonsense, spin, flim flam, alternative facts and fiendish marketing treachery masquerading as ‘advice’.
Now that we are old and wise, the obvious stuff no longer fools us. But some of the tips that we get from magazines, newspaper headlines and motivational speakers seem plausible … or maybe they’re complete nonsense? It’s hard to tell. I mean, much of it you could say in a conversation and no one would correct you.
My friends, who of course know that I am in the motivational speaking business will sometimes call me up and say ‘Give me some motivation. Ha ha!’
I say ‘Sure. Drink some coffee’.
Apparently there is, and it’s 5:1. That is some researchers are arguing that for every barbed remark, or true-word-spoken-in-jest you have to patch on five positive (and presumably sincere) comments for that relationship to be repaired.
A few years ago I was looking to get into property investing. Feeling like a wounded penguin swimming with a pack of leopard seals I paid for advice from a self-declared, but high profile, property guru. I opened the newspaper recently and found that the same man now lives in a tent in a traffic island.
In the accompanying blog I argued that Air NZ has just made changes to its trans-Tasman ticket pricing that have seriously undermined its customer loyalty program. I made the distinction between ‘reward’ and ‘loyalty’ programs and said that rewarding customers is always going to be difficult to sustain but that loyalty was easier.
Is a value statement just more cynical hissings from the corporate snake pit? More business monkey spank double speak? Or is it a valuable tool to help shape culture and create a competitive advantage?
All choices are evil. The most evil choices are those that require denying short term gratification, and unfortunately they are everywhere. Put down the garlic and crucifixes and battle those zombies by changing your environment.
In my blog 'Choice is evil - deliver yourself from temptation' I raised the idea that decision making is hard and painful– and that has a number of consequences. In your personal life it means that you can increase performance by changing your environment. In the same way companies can improve performance by changing their systems and culture. Just like Super Nanny.
When I cast off from the shore of the Canary Islands to head across the Atlantic I was struck by the similarity this moment was to every other time I had gone out in the boat. And how I wished I had paid more attention to every detail of those practice rows.
This blog is about practicing. It’s not about a big challenge, its about an everyday one.
The recent Walter Isaacson biography mentioned Steve Jobs’ tendency towards binary thinking – how he would put people in one of two camps, ‘very good’ or ‘very bad’.
Is this another powerful management technique from the polo necked guru?
No. He’s being a jerk.
By my reckoning changes just made to Air NZ’s trans-Tasman ticket pricing have disemboweled its loyalty program. Untangling the logic behind what they have done helps clarify the differences between loyalty and reward and how (infuriatingly) branded customer service trumps them both.
My iPhone screen broke the other day. Fortunately I have opposing thumbs so I assembled the correct tools and sat in front of my computer closely following the steps of a YouTube video.
All was well until, just when my phone was in all its separate pieces and the dozens of microscopic screws were gently falling into the carpet, the man on the video deftly and invisibly tucked some tiny connector into some hidden slot and then continued on. But now the rest of the video was impossible to follow.
UPDATE: An extraordinarily generous donor has offered to match the next $5k of donations! Every dollar you put in will be matched by the same amount. So those of you waiting to deliver the killer blow and get me into the tutu now is your chance! We can get there twice as fast. This is an incredibly generous offer but you have to act now! Only the next $5k will be doubled!
Last Saturday night I went to bed in NY. I thought I was relaxed then I was up at 2am, then 4am, then finally at 5am to get ready for the marathon. I brushed my teeth with hair gel.
The night before the sky had been a grey dripping sponge. Great weather for albino, arctic ducks. Now it was just cold (around 5 degrees and very windy). The immense start area on Staten Island was like a refugee camp, as runners huddled in groups out of the wind or waiting in long snaking lines to use the loo.
After two nights and no sleeps on planes I have finally arrived into a cold and wet NY city. There is a big snow storm mauling the coast that means tomorrow morning (early Monday morning NZ time) on the start line the 'Real Feel' temperature as they call it here, will be below freezing, with a strong cold northerly blast that’s definitely going to put a tilt in my tutu.