While spending time in the Catskills this summer, I learned an important business lesson. But not from a successful CEO or a famous Wall Street investor or a wealthy real estate tycoon.
Rather, I was taught this valuable lesson by my ten year-old son Shimshy.
After watching other children racing against one another in the swimming pool, Shimshy decided he wanted to join them. There was just one small problem: he didn’t know how to swim.
Determined to take part in these exciting races, he began practicing each day with small strokes and big aspirations. As the weeks went on, he started doing laps slowly across the pool. And finally, the day came when Shimshy took part in a swimming race and emerged – dripping wet and drenched in smiles – as the winner.
But his victory didn’t happen by chance. Shimshy won because he spent weeks swimming and training in the pool. He set an objective to become the best swimmer ever; and through hard work and dedication, he got there.
The lesson here is simple: Whether you’re swimming in the bungalow colony pool or making deals in the boardroom, proper goal-setting is crucial in business. But that’s only the beginning – you’ve got to follow-through as well. Work at it. Break a heavy sweat. Fall down once or twice. Try hard enough, though, and you will get there.
You may have read books, attended seminars and listened to audio tapes about goal-setting, but if you still aren’t getting the results you want, you owe it to yourself to ask: “Why?”
Q: Three baby birds are sitting in a nest. Two decide they want to fly away. How many birds are left?
A: Three. Those two birds wanted to leave – but they never actually got around to it.
You won’t reach your goals by relying on quick fixes. But you can see success if you face the reality that goals are realized one day at a time; one step at a time; one decision at a time; one phone call at a time; and one business meeting at a time.
And you can accomplish that by creating a detailed action plan.
Darren Hardy, founder of Success Magazine, was earning over a million dollars a year by age 24 in real estate. How? By following three daily action steps: pitching a listing, negotiating a contract and making a fixed number of prospecting calls every day.
You can start your own practical action plan by establishing “doable” action steps. If your concrete action step is making 10 cold calls every day, schedule an hour in your daybook where you force yourself to tune out any distractions and make productive use of your time.
If day after day, month after month, you stick to your daily disciplines, those actions will compound into big results. Like anything else in life, you’ll face obstacles. Here are some traps to avoid:
Goodbye Instant Gratification: Face it – you won’t see results overnight. And that’s okay. Don’t get discouraged, but do measure and track your results. If you regularly reflect on the success of your daily disciplines, you can modify them to ensure that you’re on the right track.
Avoid The Wishy-Washy: If your daily action steps aren’t concrete and realistic you’re not going to see any real results. Choose specific tasks. Write down your steps. And schedule a deadline. Lack of time management is a goal killer, so invest in an agenda book or personal assistant to hold you to task.
The Hard Facts: What’s the difference between successful and unsuccessful people? Nobody loves all the work they need to do to succeed. But successful people do it anyway. Those of you who stick it out will be the ones smiling on payday. And Nike sums it up best: “Just do it!”
In closing, setting goals is just one piece of the puzzle. But if you support your long-term goals with short-term action steps, your goals will be more than pipedreams; they’ll become a reality. Put these principles into practice and the next time you cash that big check at the bank… take a moment to remember the lessons gleaned from a ten year-old swimming in the pool.