Trust: The Essential Ingredient of a High-Performing CultureDecember 2, 2023
Does Your Organization Have a Good Strategy (Or Any Strategy at All)?February 3, 2024
Leadership is a constant balancing act, especially when it comes to setting goals. How high should we aim? Should we set easily achievable targets or stretch our teams to their limits? This question has divided leaders into two camps – those who advocate for attainable goals and those who champion stretch goals.
Those in favor of achievable goals argue that they foster a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and motivation within a team. There is undeniable merit to this argument. Achievable goals provide a clear path to success, boosting morale and fostering a positive team culture. However, there is an inherent risk that achievable goals may not push team members to realize their full potential.
In contrast, proponents of stretch goals argue that they push teams beyond their perceived limitations. They inspire innovation, resilience, and tenacity. But, like all things, they come with a caveat. The pressure of achieving a stretch goal can be demotivating if the goal isn’t met, leading to a drop in morale and motivation.
The crux of this conundrum lies in our mindset. Leaders often tend to focus on the gap – the distance between our performance and the goal. But what if we could shift our thinking and instead focus on the gain – the improvement in our performance compared to where we started, irrespective of whether we meet the “stretch” goal?
This is the proposition put forward by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy in their 2021 book, The Gap and The Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success. Their research suggests that measuring your team’s progress (the gain) rather than shortcomings (the gap) can have significant psychological benefits.
This approach enhances motivation, boosts confidence, and paves the way for future success. It transforms the way we perceive failure, reframing it as a stepping stone towards improvement. It promotes a culture of continuous learning and growth, where every effort is valued and every progress is celebrated.
Perhaps it’s time to rethink your approach to goal setting. The principle of “living in the gain” offers a refreshing perspective, one that encourages us to aim high without the fear of falling short. It’s not about lowering our expectations, but about changing our measure of success.
Adopting this mindset allows us to set ambitious goals while ensuring our team remains motivated, confident, and ready to take on new challenges. It allows us to push boundaries without the fear of failure. It encourages us to strive for excellence, secure in the knowledge that every effort is a step towards success.
So, as you plan for the year ahead, consider adopting the principle of “living in the gain.” Inspire your team to new heights, celebrate every win, and remember – it’s not just about reaching the goal, it’s about the journey there. Because at the end of the day, it’s the gains we make along the way that truly define our success.
Best wishes leading your team to new heights!