Most work around productivity optimization takes a set of goals as given, focusing elsewhere to optimize performance.
Most work around productivity optimization takes a set of goals as given, focusing elsewhere to optimize performance. Teams often overlook the goals themselves as productivity drivers. For example, when I was helping build Skype, our tagline was “The Whole World Can Talk for Free.” It created a revolutionary spirit inside the company as we all rowed in sync, knowing we were doing the world good by connecting people who couldn’t otherwise speak, by increasing the frequency of their communication, or by simply adding the video element that we now take for granted. Having such a massive goal inspired massive action, which led to massive results—including our sale to eBay for over $2 billion.
Personally, I’ve also noticed time and again that when I commit to a huge goal, even though I don’t think I will be able to achieve it, somehow it still gets done. We develop the skills we need, when we need them, by just going for it. In his book The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks says that the moment you commit and take that step forward, a bridge appears underneath your feet. Whenever I have set big goals, I have found and connected to all of the expertise I needed to achieve them.
But it’s not magic. One of my favourite quotes comes from John Burroughs: “Leap, and the net will appear.” Truth be told, the “net” isn’t providence or God saving your butt because you took the leap. What really happens is end up weaving the net as you fall. It doesn’t appear out of nowhere. When you make that decision to take action against something that scares and excites you at the same time, the net appears in the form of the various resources you gather—be they money, people, or opportunities. When you put the pressure on yourself to go make things happen in a big way, you’ll be surprised by how often they do. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.
Setting massive goals for you and your business is a next-level productivity driver for a variety of reasons:
- It forces us to commit before we’re ready. Rather than waiting for things to be just right, which they never are, we are pushed to get going.
- It enables us to dream big—and when we dream big, we get excited. We are measurably more productive working on something that excites us.
- It makes us hyper-aware of time. When we go big, we know that every second counts. We’re more compelled to give our very best, every single day.
- It forces us to take commensurate action. Rather than berate ourselves for not acting boldly or quickly enough day after day, massive goals leave us no choice.
- Lastly, massive goals prompt us to get real with ourselves and confront our deficiencies.
Winning CEO of the Year in 2019 was a perfect example. What started as an idea to improve my leadership abilities changed into an epic quest to become a significantly better leader. The mere pursuit of the goal prompted me to take action I wouldn't have otherwise considered. I reached out to interview various CEOs to understand what drove their success. I sought feedback more often from my team and advisors. I read countless books on leadership and peak performance. And I began tracking key behaviors to ensure I was making progress; behaviors I now train up in clients eager to upgrade their leadership skills.
Growing up, my parents used to say, “Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you'll still land among the stars.” It's a statement I've always remembered, and one that certainly underpins the massive results you and your teams can achieve when you pursue massive goals.
So, are the goals you and your team are setting big enough? Are they forcing you to commit before you're ready, to dream big, to become hyper-aware of your time, to take bolder action, and to confront your deficiencies? If not you're potentially leaving a lot of opportunity on the table!