Unlock Your Potential
“The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.” (Brian Tracy)
Success is goals, and all else is commentary. All successful people are intensely goal oriented. They know what they want and they are focused single mindedly on achieving it, every single day.
Your ability to set goals is the master skill of success. Goals unlock your positive mind and release ideas and energy for goal attainment. Without goals, you simply drift and flow on the currents of life. With goals, you fly like an arrow, straight and true to your target.
The truth is that you probably have more natural potential than you could use if you lived one hundred lifetimes. Whatever you have accomplished up until now is only a small fraction of what is truly possible for you. One of the rules for success is this, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from; all that matters is where you’re going. And where you are going is solely determined by yourself and your own thoughts.
Clear goals increase your confidence, develop your competence and boost your levels of motivation. As sales trainer Tom Hopkins says, Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.
You Create Your Own World
Perhaps the greatest discovery in human history is the power of your mind to create the aspects of your life. Everything you see around you in the man-made world began as a thought or an idea in the mind of a single person before it was translated into reality. Everything in your life started as a thought, a wish, a hope or a dream, either in your mind, or in the mind of someone else. Your thoughts are creative. Your thoughts form and shape your world and everything that happens to you.
The great summary statement of all religions, philosophies, metaphysics, psychology and success is this: “You become what you think about — most of the time.” Your outer world ultimately becomes a reflection of your inner world, and mirrors back to you what you think about. Whatever you think about continuously emerges in your reality.
Many thousands of successful people have been asked what it is that they think about most of the time. The most common answer given by successful people is that they think about what they want, and how to get it most of the time.
Unsuccessful, unhappy people think and talk about what they don’t want most of the time. They talk about their problems and worries, and who is to blame, most of the time. But successful people keep their thoughts and conversation on the topics of their most intensely desired goals. They think and talk about what they want most of the time.
Living without clear goals is like driving in a thick fog. No matter how powerful or well engineered your car, you drive slowly, hesitantly, making little progress on even the smoothest road. Deciding upon your goals clears the fog immediately and allows you to focus and channel your energies and abilities. Clear goals enable you to step on the accelerator of your own life and leap ahead rapidly toward achieving more of the things you really want.
Your Automatic Goal Seeking Function
Imagine this exercise: you take a homing pigeon out of its roost, put it in a cage, cover the cage with a blanket, put the cage in a box and then place the box into a closed truck cab. You can then drive a thousand miles in any direction. If you then open the truck cab, take out the box, take off the blanket and let the homing pigeon out of the cage, the homing pigeon will fly up into the air, circle three times and then fly unerringly back to its home roost a thousand miles away. This is the only creature on earth that has this incredible cybernetic, goal-seeking function, except for man.
You have the same goal achieving ability as the homing pigeon, but with one marvelous addition. When you are absolutely clear about your goal, you do not even have to know where it is or how it is to be achieved. By simply deciding exactly what it is you want, you will begin to move unerringly toward your goal, and your goal will start to move unerringly toward you. At exactly the right time, and in exactly the right place, you and the goal will meet.
Because of this incredible cybernetic mechanism located deep within your mind, you always achieve your goals, whatever they are. You move toward them and they move toward you. If your goal is to get home at night and watch television, you will almost certainly achieve it. If your goal is to create a wonderful life full of health, happiness and prosperity, you will achieve that as well. Like a computer, your goal seeking mechanism is non-judgmental. It works automatically and continuously to bring you what you want, regardless of what you program into it.
Nature doesn’t care about the size or scope of your goals. If you set little goals, your automatic goal achieving mechanism will enable you to achieve little goals. If you set large goals, this natural capability will enable you to achieve large goals. The size, scope and detail of the goals you choose to think about most of the time is completely up to you.
Why People Don’t Set Goals
Here is a good question: If goal setting is automatic, why is it that so few people have clear, written, measurable, time-bounded goals that they work toward each day? This is one of the great mysteries of life. I believe there are four reasons why people don’t set goals.
Goals Aren’t Important
First, most people don’t realize the importance of goals. If you grow up in a home where no one has goals, or you socialize with a group where goals are neither discussed nor valued, you can very easily reach adulthood without knowing that your ability to set and achieve goals will have more of an effect on your life than any other skill. Look around you. How many of your friends or family members are clear and committed to their goals?
They Don’t Know How
The second reason that people don’t have goals is because they don’t know how to set them in the first place. Even worse, many people think that they already have goals, when in reality, what they actually have are a series of wishes or dreams like, “Be happy,” or “Make a lot of money,” or “Have a nice family life.”
But these are not goals at all. They are merely fantasies that are common to everyone. A goal however is something distinctly different from a wish. It is clear, written and specific. It can be quickly and easily described to another person. You can measure it, and you know when you have achieved it, or not.
It is possible to take an advanced degree at a leading university without ever receiving one hour of instruction on goal setting. It is almost as if the people who determine the educational content of our schools and universities are completely blind to the importance of goal setting in achieving success later in life. And of course, if you never hear about goals until you are an adult, as I experienced, you will have no idea how important they are to everything you do.
The Fear of Failure
The third reason that people don’t set goals is because of the fear of failure. Failure hurts. It is emotionally and often financially painful and distressing. Everyone has had failure experiences from time to time. Each time, they resolve to be more careful next time and avoid failure experiences in the future. They then make the mistake of unconsciously sabotaging themselves by not setting any goals at which they might fail. They end up going through life functioning at far lower levels than are truly possible for them.
The Fear of Rejection
The fourth reason that people don’t set goals is because of the fear of rejection. People are afraid that if they set a goal and are not successful, others will criticize or ridicule them. This is one of the reasons why, when you begin to set goals, you should keep your goals confidential. Don’t tell anyone. Let them see by your results and achievements what you have accomplished, but don’t tell them in advance. What they don’t know can’t hurt you.
Join The Top Three Percent
Mark McCormack in his book What They Don’t Teach You In The Harvard Business School tells of a Harvard study conducted between 1979 and 1989. In 1979, the graduates of the MBA program at Harvard were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” It turned out that only 3% of the graduates had written goals and plans. 13% had goals, but they were not in writing. Fully 84% had no specific goals at all, aside from getting out of school and enjoying the summer.
Ten years later, in 1989, they interviewed the members of that class again. They found that the 13% who had goals, but which were not in writing were earning on average twice as much as the 84% of students who had had no goals at all. But most surprisingly, they found that the 3% of graduates who had clear, written goals when they left Harvard were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of graduates all together. The only difference between the groups was the clarity of the goals they had for themselves when they started out.
No Road Signs
The importance of clarity is easy to understand. Imagine arriving on the outskirts of a large city and being told to drive to a particular home or office in that city. But here’s the catch. There are no road signs and you have no map of the city. In fact, all you are given is a very general description of the home or office that is your goal. Here is the question: How long do you think it would take you to find a home or office in a city without a road map or without road signs?
The answer is: Probably your whole life. If you ever did find the home or office, it would be very much a matter of luck. And sadly enough, this is the way most people live their lives.
The average person starts life traveling through an unmapped and uncharted world with no road map. This is the equivalent of starting off in life with no goals and plans. He or she simply figures things out as he or she goes along. Often, ten or twenty years of work will go past and the individual is still broke, unhappy in his or her job, dissatisfied with his or her marriage and making little progress. And still, he or she goes home every night and watches television, wishing and hoping that things would get better. But they seldom do. Not by themselves.
Happiness Requires Goals
Earl Nightingale once wrote: Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal, or goal.
You only feel truly happy when you are making progress, step-by-step, toward something that is important to you. Victor Frankl, the founder of Logotherapy, wrote that the greatest need of the human being is for a sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Goals give you a sense of meaning and purpose. Goals give you a sense of direction. As you move toward your goals you feel happier and stronger. You feel more energized and effective. You feel more confident and competent in yourself and your abilities. Every step you take toward your goals increases your belief that you can set and achieve even bigger goals in the future.
More people today fear change, and worry about the future, than at any other time in our history. One of the great benefits of goal setting is that goals enable you to control the direction of change in your life. Goals enable you to assure that the changes in your life are largely self-determined and self-directed. Goals enable you to instill meaning and purpose into everything you do.
One of the most important teachings of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, was that man is a teleological organism. The word “teleos” in Greek means goals. What Aristotle concluded was that all human action is purposeful in some way. You are only happy when you are doing something that is moving you toward something that you want. The great questions then become: What are your goals? What purposes are you aiming at? Where do you want to end up at the end of the day?
Clarity Is Everything
Your inborn potential is extraordinary. You have within you, right now, the ability to achieve almost any goal that you can set for yourself. Your greatest responsibility to yourself is to invest the whatever time is required to become absolutely clear about exactly what it is you want, and how you can best achieve it. The greater clarity you have regarding your true goals, the more of your potential you will unleash for good in your life.
You have probably heard it said that the average person uses only 10% of his or her potential. The sad fact is that, according to Stanford University, the average person functions with only about 2% of his or her mental potential. The remainder just sits there in reserve, being saved up for some later time. This would be exactly as if your parents had left you a trust fund with $100,000 in it, but all you ever took out to spend was $2,000. The other $98,000 dollars simply sat in the account unused throughout your life.
Develop A Burning Desire
The starting point of all goal attainment is desire. You must develop an intense, burning desire for your goals if you really want to achieve them. It is only when your desire becomes intense enough that you will have the energy and the internal drive to overcome all the obstacles that will arise in your path.
The good news is that almost anything that you want long enough and hard enough, you can ultimately achieve.
The great oil billionaire, H. L. Hunt, was once asked the “secret of success.” He replied that success required two things, and two things only. First, he said, you must know exactly what it is you want. Most people never make this decision. Second, he said, you must determine the price that you will have to pay to achieve it, and then get busy paying that price.
The Cafeteria Model of Success
Life is more like a buffet or cafeteria than it is a restaurant. In a restaurant, you eat the complete dinner and then you pay the bill. But in a buffet or cafeteria, you have to serve yourself, and pay in full before you enjoy the meal. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they will pay the price after they have experienced the success. They sit in front of the stove of life and say, “First give me some heat, and then I’ll put in some wood.”
As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “The elevator to success is out of service. But the stairs are always open.”
Another important observation from Aristotle was his conclusion that the ultimate purpose of all human action is the achievement of personal happiness. Whatever you do, he said, it is aimed at increasing your happiness in some way. You may or may not be successful in achieving happiness, but your happiness is always your ultimate aim.
The Key To Happiness
Setting goals, working toward them day-by-day, and ultimately achieving them is the key to happiness in life. Goal setting is so powerful that the very act of thinking about your goals makes you happy, even before you have taken the first step toward achieving them.
To unlock and unleash your full potential, you should make a habit of daily goal setting and achieving for the rest of your life. You should develop a laser-like focus so that you are always thinking and talking about the things you want rather than the things that you don’t want. You must resolve, from this moment on, to be a goal-seeking organism, like a guided missile, or a homing pigeon, moving unerringly toward the things that are important to you.
There is no greater guarantee of a long, happy, healthy and prosperous life than for you to be continually working on being, having and achieving more and more of the things you really want. Clear goals enable you to release your full potential for personal and professional success. Goals enable you to overcome any obstacle, and to make your future unlimited.
Unlock Your Potential:
1. Imagine that you have the inborn ability to achieve any goal you could ever set for yourself. What do you really want to be, have and do?
2. What are the activities that give you your greatest sense of meaning and purpose in life?
3. Look at your personal and work life today and identify how your own thinking has created your world. What should you, could you change?
4. What do you think and talk about most of the time, what you want, or what you don’t want?
5. What is the price you will have to pay to achieve the goals that are most important to you?
6. What one action should you take immediately as the result of your answers to the above questions?