I don’t consider myself a spectator.
For most of my life, I would rather be in the arena competing than watching others compete. As Teddy Roosevelt reminded me in his famous passage from, “The Man In The Arena,” I have always thought of myself as one, “who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Well, then I became a parent.
Today, I have to admit spectating has become one of my most favorite and rewarding pastimes. In fact, last week I really got to enjoy watching a couple of my favorite “warriors” test themselves in the arena.
After returning from Boston and Miami last week, I had a few days home to enjoy time with my kids. Ok, I may be using the word “enjoy” a little loosely. Over the last few days in between spending hours in the car taking my kids to school or either track, swimming or tennis practices, we did fit in a movie and had some of our meals together.
The movie and meals were fine, but the times I particularly enjoyed was getting to be a spectator at two of my daughters competitions. Ok, I used the word “enjoy” loosely again. Being their dad, these events made me nervous and tense, and in order to hide those feelings, I got even more nervous and tense. But, hey, being “laid back” was never really my thing anyway.
On Wednesday my oldest competed in the third track meet of her high school career and my second oldest spent Saturday and Sunday at a swim meet for which had she worked for months to qualify. Aside from the freezing temperatures of the track meet and the lack of seating at the swim meet, both of the competitions went very well. My oldest qualified in her fourth event for the State Meet in May and my swimmer set 5 personal records. As I reflected on how they were able to perform so well, I realized it wasn’t by luck or accident. There was one simple reason they did what they did: they had both been given the best gift you can receive if you want to succeed in anything.
Want to know what that gift is? I’ll give you a hint: the word for this gift starts with the letter “g.”
No, contrary to what you might have thought, this gift was not Great Genetics (but thanks for your vote of confidence.) The gift is unique in that it is actually something that you can either give to yourself or be given it by others. This gift has been used by the greatest people in history to result in all their spectacular achievements. The gift has also led to incredible sport performances and riches beyond your wildest dreams. This gift is so well known, that it has been talked about for centuries, yet most people continue to refuse to take advantage of the gift even though it is free.
What was this gift? GOALS!
Each of my children was carrying her goals with her for the competitions. In fact, this has been a “Rooney Secret” I have been sharing with the athletes I have coached for the last 20 years. Where did my fascination with goals get started? It all goes back while watching the 1996 Summer Olympic Games at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York.
As a member of the US Bobsled team, I got the opportunity at the OTC to watch the Olympic Games with a number of hopeful Olympians. Before they broadcast the Games and we got to watch Michael Johnson break records in Atlanta, a speaker challenged us with a quick exercise. The speaker first asked the group, “How many of you athletes have goals?” After this question, every hand went up. Then he asked, “How many of you have written these goals down?” After this question, half the hands went up. Then he asked, “How many of you have those written goals with you right now?” None of the hands went up and his point hit me like a lightning bolt. Yes, like everyone else I had wishes and dreams, but I was not reminding myself of them the way I should. Maybe I had gotten lucky up to that point with sports and school, but I wasn’t properly planning ahead. From then on, I started to carry my written goals and my life continued to improve not by accident, but by design.
“What keeps me going is goals.” Muhammad Ali
For the two competitions last week, my daughters each used this strategy to help them produce their results. My oldest has the track and field record board from her high school favorited on her photos on her phone and a list of her goal times written down. My swimmer also had her goal times written down, but she went a step further: at the meet, she was actually wearing her goals on a sticker on her wrist!
Imagine wearing your goals on your wrist everyday. Sound crazy? Hardly. I’ve essentially been doing this for years and I can tell you it works. Whether you call it a “goal list” or “to do list” it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can’t hit a target you can’t see. World Records don’t happen by accident. Neither do good grades, weight loss, vacations, investments, dream homes, degrees, black belts, big salaries or anything else you can set your mind to achieve. The simple fact (and a Rooney Rule) about goals: Before you can be a goal getter, you have to be a goal setter.
I have heard goals called dreams with deadlines. I like to think of goals as both a noun and a verb. Goals create action. Goals give you a direction. As soon as you set them, you start figuring out where to go and how to get there. But goal setting is also a skill that needs to be developed. In order to do it right, it takes a system and practice. Here is my system to attack your dreams one goal at a time. Instead of writing down 50 goals you may never reach, here is my 10-Step Plan to take on and achieve one big goal:
10 Steps To Have Whatever You Want
1. Figure Out What You Want
Make a list of goals that excite and motivate you.
2. Prioritize and Pick A Winner
Choose one big goal from the list that excites you the most.
3. Write It Down…Every Day
Wake up, rewrite the goal down and carry it with you.
4. Break It Down With Dates
Make the big goal into smaller ones with deadlines attached.
5. Review The Goal Every Day
Check your progress to see how you are doing.
6. Revise If Necessary
If something needs to change with the goal, change it.
7. Tell Everyone You Know
Make your goal public to people whom you trust.
8. Ask For Help
Find people that have the answers or strategies you seek.
9. Don’t Give Up
Set backs can start comebacks. Goals are about thinking long term.
10. Celebrate Your Little Successes
Congratulate yourself on small steps forward.
The only reason the list above won’t work for you is that you are “too busy” to use it. One gift you could give yourself is to join me at my full-day mentorship called Coaching Greatness. At the event, not only do you get to spend the day focused on your and your future, but we take the time to go over your goals as well. Need a day to refocus your goals? Join me here:
2018 Coaching Greatness Dates:
Last thing about goals: you don’t have to wait for the perfect time to get started. Don’t wait for a big date like New Year’s Eve or your 40th birthday. Use this email as your kick in the pants to get started today.
Newsflash! The 1st quarter of 2018 is over. Have you done everything you wanted to do with 2018 yet? If not, give the 10 steps above a shot and start your goal list today. The future you is going to thank you for it.
Yours in Strength,