If your goals are focused on “winning” something, you’re in trouble.
That’s according to a bestselling author and leadership expert Simon Sinekwhich recommends setting goals that are more focused on the process of self-improvement than on specific outcomes of future scenarios.
“There’s no such thing as winning,” Sinek said recently at the World Business Forum 2023 summit. “Yes, it’s good to have goals. There’s no problem in having a target. Sometimes you’ll hit them and sometimes you’ll miss them. The most important thing is what your momentum is.” ?”
Constantly trying to beat your competition is a pointless exercise, Sinek said: Workplaces and everyday life are not sports with clear winners and losers. In business, for example: No matter how much money you make, someone else probably has less, and someone else probably has more, he noted.
“When you listen to the language of too many of our business leaders, it becomes abundantly clear that they have no idea what game they’re playing,” Sinek said. “They talk about being No. 1, being the best, or beating their competition based on goals, metrics, and timelines.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t work hard to get ahead. Sinek’s advice: Build goals that are rooted in an “endless mindset,” where you continuously work toward long-term, sustainable growth.
Instead of working hard to become employee of the month, for example, consider what skills could lead to recognizable success — like time management, teamwork, or customer service.
Focusing solely on honing those skills could benefit you in a more holistic way: you can still win that prize as a byproduct, and you won’t be as frustrated if someone else gets picked.
It can also help to get rid of specific goals in total. In a year TED talk in Aprilformer NFL player and two-time Emmy winner, television personality Emmanuel Acho credited his career change and subsequent success to that strategy.
After being crushed too many times for not meeting his goals, Acho decided to open himself up to anything more incremental that could lead him to “excellence,” he added.
The broader mindset helped him evaluate the television job offer and decide to take it — something he said would never have happened had he remained doggedly focused on his NFL goals.
Acho said he was motivated by proving other people wrong. This is essentially the same unhealthy mindset that “business leaders” often fall into, Sinek noted.
“Nobody wins (in their) career,” Sinek said. “There’s no such thing as No. 1 in your marriage. There’s no such thing as getting an education, and there’s definitely no such thing as No. 1 in business.”
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