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Attaining Breakthrough

Attaining Breakthrough

It’s been a tough week. I’m trying to finish the draft of a book explaining the principles of Slow Leadership. There seems to come a point where ideas you once thought were clear and powerful start to look tired and superficial. Maybe it’s something like the point runners say they reach in a long race where it seems impossible to go on; a barrier you must break through to get anywhere near the winning line; the victory over yourself that must precede any other victory.

I began formulating the thoughts behind Slow Leadership in the fall of 2005. When I look back at some of the early articles I wrote on the topic, they seem almost naïve. It’s come a long way since then — a long way along a path that has added a good deal of depth and complexity to the starting idea.

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What began as a simple plea to slow down and take the time to think has become a contrarian style of leadership : one based on dropping the quick-fix, “just-get-it-done-somehow” style of leading, with its emphasis on short-term profits and “grab-and-go” ethics. Today’s textbook styles of leadership have dumbed-down the process into a series of rules-of-thumb and fashionable panaceas.

Breakthrough demands you push beyond the obvious and the conventional. It’s going places you don’t think you can reach. It’s getting to your limit — then going still further. We have a world of work populated with more MBAs than ever before. Yet there has been no appreciable improvement in management over the early part of the twentieth century — maybe even the latter part of the nineteenth.

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No one will find new ideas and better ways to run their working lives by focussing on the ideas of the past, which is what most business schools teach. Education is precious, but it’s not achieved through being able to repeat the details of ideas that now have only historical interest. It comes from the willingness to push into uncharted territories of the mind, seeking newer and better questions — and refusing to be fobbed off with those old, worn-out answers.

What holds you back from achieving breakthrough? Untested, old-fashioned assumptions certainly do. So do the false certainties of fashionably pseudo-scientific management techniques. Let them go. There’s only one way to break out of your current limits: challenging yourself to go deeper and further than you’ve ever gone before. The entry to breakthrough and mastery starts with being a learner — a person who knows only that he or she does not know what matters; at least, not yet. True learners give up all the established certainties and challenge every dogma. They risk everything in the search for knowledge.

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Are you willing to do what it takes to reach your own breakthrough?

Adrian Savage is an Englishman, a writer and a retired business executive. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination.

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1. Make a List of Your Goal Destinations

Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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2. Think About the Time Frame to Have the Goal Accomplished

This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

Learn the differences between a short term goal and a long term goal. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

3. Write Down Your Goals Clearly

Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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4. Write Down What You Need to Do for Each Goal

Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

5. Write Down Your Timeframe With Specific and Realistic Dates

Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

6. Schedule Your To-Dos

Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

Write these action points on a schedule, you have definite dates on which to do things.

7. Review Your Progress

At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

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Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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