It is the
entrepreneur�s dream to idle away lazy afternoons on the white
sands of a tropical beach. Success certainly affords, among
other things, an excuse to relax and enjoy the fruits of one�s
labor. But as many dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneurs have
discovered, there is only so much time you can spend fly fishing
or lounging in a hammock before the urge to do something new
begins gnawing deep down.
everything around you suggests a new or overlooked opportunity.
Every cocktail napkin becomes a sketch-pad or whiteboard. Or that
great idea, long stowed away, keeps you awake late at night.
also provides resources, credibility, experience and�most of all�the
confidence to attempt things. The only thing harder for an
entrepreneur to pass up than a good idea, is that same idea coupled
with the knowledge that �I�m good at doing this sort of thing.�
therefore, need no prodding or motivation to get up and try
something new. They can�t help it...it just happens. What is not so
automatic is the notion of attempting something ambitious, relative
to your past accomplishments. If you�re attempting something that
doesn�t make you feel at least a bit uncomfortable, then you
probably aren�t growing.
While you may
be successful at completing a less-than-ambitious project, it will
be a hollow victory. Worst of all, you will fall far short of your
wish to continue growing during this lifetime, in whatever capacity
you choose�skills, experiences, wealth, sophistication, etc.�then
you must continuously push yourself. Whether it�s soloing in an
aircraft, learning a new language or speaking in public, you must
occasionally do something that is unfamiliar, difficult, or even
If you've read
similar articles, you probably need no explanation of the power of
setting goals. What is not so well-known is that a few of your goals
should deliberately be very difficult.
studies, research has demonstrated that effort and performance are
directly proportional to the goal�s difficulty level, up to the
point where the goal becomes no longer believable (at which point
effort tends to cease altogether).
But here's the
clincher: Performance is maximized even when the goal is not
How is this
possible? If you look closely, most things that people attempt are
not truly binary. That is, they�re neither measured as all-or-none
nor as success versus failure, but instead are a matter of degree.
While the goal may not be reached, performance was indisputably
improved...and that is the key.
overwhelmingly suggests a new approach to goal-setting�set very
difficult goals for yourself and then recognize and reward partial
success. It�s better to earn 80% of a $1-million income goal, than
to earn 100% of a $500,0000 goal. This can be hard to get used to
for highly aggressive, goal-setters who writhe in pain at the
thought of failing to meet a goal by its deadline. But fear not.
also shows that failure to reach one�s goal is still highly
motivating to people, especially when the goal was missed by a
narrow margin. Reaching 80% of your goal stimulates you to try that
much harder next time, and reinforces your overall belief in the
True, there are
bigger risks when attempting bigger things. But that�s what pushes
us to work harder, so as to minimize risk. How? Fear creates stress
and that stress forces the mind to adapt, coming up with ever better
approaches and solutions for minimizing the risk. That is what
raises us to the next level of performance.
(Reprinted with permission,