It was 12.08am on a Friday night and I was sitting at the Beat (don’t judge me), with a gin and tonic in front of me and a certificate of participation on my lap, contemplating life and pushing hard when you want to win (sigh).
We had just missed out on winning a big business Award which was frankly disappointing, more so because things like awards are largely out of your hands – you are at the mercy of a group of strangers you are judging you through their rose-coloured glasses – and you know how it goes, everyone likes to win! Plus it was 12.05 so waaaaay past my bedtime and with waaaaay too many drinks in me (I’m in my 30’s).
The contemplation went something like… “Crap we lost; oh well; damn; at least we made it to a finalist stage which is better than most; so we almost made it.” Then I started thinking about the half marathon I did the week before and how I almost got to the time I wanted (I was out by a couple of minutes); “damn another failure…”
Before I could say ‘tequila’, I had gone through all the near misses in the past six months and my life felt terrible. If it weren’t for the cheesy 90’s music, my drunken silly friends and the badly dressed drag show on stage, I would have been sobbing in my G&T!
Half a song later (because that’s how quickly your mood changes on gin) – I had a revelation. Whilst we had almost won an award, and I had almost beaten my running time and I had almost gotten to do something else… I was waaaaay ahead from last year, when all these ‘almosts’ were non-existent.
I was waaaaay ahead from last year, when all these ‘almosts’ were non-existent.
You know how the story goes – you’ve read this all before. We spend so much of our lives striving for the next achievement, to beat the next challenge, to be better, faster, richer – that we miss the little wins along the way (Read: Is searching for your purpose dragging you down?). My lesson here wasn’t about being more present or grateful (that was an earlier contemplation) – the lesson was that it’s OK to miss the mark, because if you’re not, then your goal isn’t high enough and you’re not pushing hard enough.
It’s OK to miss the mark, because if you’re not, then your goal isn’t high enough.
This goes for both our personal lives and for work. We work in a world where everything needs to be measured and accounted for. If we are not achieving then we are wasting time.
How many times have you agree to a sub-par goal because you knew you could reach it? I know I have – I wanted an easy win that helped me feel better. Hey I struggle with this every time we are setting KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for our work projects.
The battle is between keeping the team motivated and setting realistic challenges which I know we can achieve. Or pushing the bar slightly higher, not out of reach, but high enough that everyone needs to stretch a little bit further to get there.
Have a look through your life and your goals – are you pushing hard enough? Is a higher almost, better than a lower win? You are the only one that can answer that question… at least you’re trying!