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Posts tagged ‘Goals’

Lessons from Falling Short of a Goal

2013-06-01 10.10.41Late last fall I had a physical and found out that my LDL cholesterol was 175, 75 points higher than the top of the acceptable range.

As a result my Doctor recommended I take a LDL lowering drug. Instead I told him I wanted time to see if getting my health back in order would do the trick. So he gave me 6 months to see if I could move the LDL needle down.

So I set a stretch goal of lowering my LDL to 95 before my return visit. Then I created a plan which gave me the best chance to drop my LDL 80 points. Now 6 months later, having executed my plan to the best of my ability, I went back to the Doctor to learn if I achieved my goal.

And, as with many goals, I received both good news and bad news. The good news is I lowered my LDL by 53 points and the Doctor isn’t prescribing any medication. But the bad news is I’m still 27 points from my goal.

So I’m both satisfied and disappointed. Satisfied that my highest goal – taking no drugs has been temporarily avoided, disappointed because I didn’t reach my goal, all of which provides some important lessons about setting and missing  goals:

  1. Because we tend to perform up to but not beyond our goals, setting a stretch goal puts us farther down the road than we’d have gone had our goals been more conservative even if we fall short of our goal.
  2. It’s easy to be unrealistic in setting short –term goals (and to easy to be conservative in setting long-term ones).
  3. Even when we fall short of our goals there’s always residual benefits from good performance (lower weight, better sleeping, etc.).
  4. Just because we don’t achieve our goals by the date set it doesn’t mean they’re unachievable, it just means, if we stay resilient,  it’s only a matter of time before we cross the finish line.

How Do You Climb a Mountain?

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How do you climb a mountain? As my wife Denise and I experienced on a recent climb up a southern California mountain, you do it one step at a time.

This is true of any big goal or vision we have as individuals or as organizations. Our best chance at success is by breaking big goals down into smaller, more manageable steps, and regularly measuring ourselves against those steps.

But too often we set these “Big Hairy Audacious Goals – BHAG’s” but don’t make the effort to break them down into the steps necessary to take every year, quarter, month, week, and day to accomplish those BHAG’s. Which, if you think about it, is a bit like my wife and I sitting at the bottom of the mountain, looking up at it and envisioning being at the top, but not mapping out the trail or knowing the elevation change or the miles we’ll need to walk or the time and effort required to reach the summit.

But it’s this kind of planning that’s required to break down a BHAG into manageable steps. And it’s by these manageable steps that we’re able to measure our progress. And by measuring our daily progress we’re able to keep focused on the work before us and not become overwhelmed by the large amount of work we have to do before getting to the top of the mountain.

At SpringHill our Big Hairy Audacious Goal is to serve 260,000 campers a year by 2025 (for context, we’ll serve about 55,000 in 2013). It’s an exciting goal, but to increase the likelihood of it becoming a reality we had to break our BHAG down into year by year goals, including our 2013 goal. Then we broke down our 2013 goal by season (we have three seasons a year versus four quarters), followed by monthly goals, and finally weekly goals, or steps, we call a split.

Then every week, as a team, we review these steps or splits. If we’re on track each week, then we know, ultimately, we’re on track this week to reach our mountain top of 260,000 campers by 2025.

The Hard Work of Momentum Change

Photo Jan 22, 7 28 10 AMAt the end of 2012 I had a physical exam. And as I expected everything turned out fine except my cholesterol levels. I anticipated that my LDL cholesterol might be high because of our family history and because, over the last few years, I’ve committed the two sins of managing cholesterol – eating whatever I wanted to and not exercising consistently (thus my weight was also at an all-time high).

So when the doctor suggested I go on medication I told him I wanted six months to straighten out my eating and exercise regimen to see if I could correct my high cholesterol naturally. He agreed, so I have until June to see if I can improve my cholesterol levels.

Now, even though I won’t find out until June if my cholesterol has lowered, I have had other, more visible, gains. For example I’ve lost 18 pounds and reduced my mile splits (running is my exercise of choice) by minute and a half. As a matter of fact it seems that the more weight I lose the faster I run and the faster I run the more weight I loose.

You see my physical health is now experiencing positive momentum. But before I started to focus on my health, its momentum, I have to admit, was steadily, but discernibly, going in the wrong direction.

This got me to thinking; my health momentum parallel’s an organization’s momentum. And just like my health, organizations are either going forward or going backward, they’re never standing still.

And like taking charge of my health, a leader’s job is to build the organization’s forward momentum.

But as I’ve learned over the last few months, reversing downward momentum is hard work. It requires goals, investment, focus, discipline, constant and timely feedback on performance, and the tenacity to stay with it until the momentum’s reversed and beginning to go in the right direction.

So what’s the momentum of your health, your life, the organization or team you lead? If it’s headed in the wrong direction maybe it’s time to do what’s required to get that positive momentum going again before you have to take the hard medicine.

Do You Know What You’re Shooting For?

“What get’s measured is what gets done.”

I live in northern Michigan where opening day of deer season is a holiday. Schools close and very little business transacts. Part of the deer hunting tradition is the annual “sighting in” of a hunter’s gun that usually happens the weekend before opening day. “Sighting in” is where hunters shoot at a target for the purpose of aligning their gun’s sights/scope. The marks shot on the target indicate how aligned the gun’s sights are and direct the hunter’s sight adjustments. Obviously  “sighting in” is important to achieving  the goal of shooting a trophy deer.

It’s this idea of targets, goals, and indicators that help SpringHill answer the question “How will we know we’re being successful?” Targets are what we shoot for in the long run (more than a year away) and goals are the immediate things (year or less) we’re trying to accomplish. Indicators, on the other hand, are those measurements that help us assess how we’re doing accomplishing our goals and targets. Targets and goals should align with each other and both should align with the future aspirations of an organization (its vision and BHAG).

Typically an organization has a number of targets, goals and indicators that centered on such key areas as customers, finances/stewardship, market size, people, and operations. Every organization is different so the targets, goals and indicators should be different. The key is finding the right ones that lead the organization forward and tell its people how they’re doing. Then the team’s responsibility is to faithfully and regularly measure, watch, and effectively respond to those numbers.

Targets, goals and indicators are essential for an organization’s ability to answer the question “are we being successful and heading in the right direction?” Without them, and the proper tracking of them, an organization is left to guessing at how they’re doing, which is never good when hunting for a trophy.

This is part 4 of a series of posts about the questions every organization needs to answer to achieve their vision.

T-shirts and Stretch Goals

I love summer camp and always hate when it’s over. I especially miss watching God transform the lives of campers and staff. But I also miss watching our team perform during these crazy weeks. They’re committed and talented people who create incredible experiences.

One of my favorite moments from this summer was watching our team go after the goal of having 25% of our campers pre-register for 2013 summer camp. You see in the past we’d only open up registration months after summer camp ended. A couple of years ago we decided to test whether parents would sign their kids up for next year’s camp at the end of their camp session. We tried some things and had some success, but nowhere close to what we desired.

So instead of giving up we set a stretch goal of 25% pre-registration without a clear plan on how we’d achieve it. What we had were some t-shirts to give away to campers who signed up for the next year. So our Indiana overnight team created a plan that would generate excitement on the closing day of camp with the goal of moving parents to sign up for next year. The plan included having all professional staff wear one of these t-shirts, promote pre-registration during the closing rally, and have highly visible tables at key locations so parents could easily pre-register and receive a t-shirt before leaving camp.

So what was the result of our Indiana team’s Week 1 efforts? We pre-registered more kids than the total number of 2011 Indiana pre-registrations.

Word quickly spread throughout SpringHill and over the next few weeks our other team’s implemented similar plans with similar results. Today, at our two overnight camps, we’ve pre-registered close to 35% of our campers, easily exceeding our stretch goal of 25%.

And that’s why it’s one of my favorite summer camp moments. Because I love when teams set stretch goals, create simple yet effective plans, work the plans and then share their successes so that others can succeed as well.

It’s also one of the reasons why I’m already looking forward to next year’s summer camp.

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