8 October 2009

According to many leaders of small businesses “Goal setting” is a waste of time and energy. It is an outdated American principal for the happy clapping brigade.

Is there more to goal setting than meets the eye?

What if goal setting was a scientific art form? What if you could literally pinpoint your every move in the future and design the outcome of every turn years before you arrive there, long after the memory of even setting the goal.

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. Yet my wife and I have built a business on this very principal.

I am in Amsterdam at present and yesterday went to Anne Franks house to visit a very important place preserved in our history. The one thing I came away with is the memory of something written on the wall.

“I have a goal, to be free from this place and to dance again and to breathe the air.”

This may appear to be an innocuous quote in amongst much more profound remarks, however it is the word goal that strikes me as interesting.

In a world long ago that I care not to even remember let alone imagine being a part of where countless millions did not survive, there is one child who defied the laws of everything that was controlling the world at that time in war torn Europe.

She had a goal and she wrote it down and she not only survived years of German occupation against all the odds she then went on to influence millions of people with her writing, long after she died. You might argue that her goal never worked, as she died in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945, less than 2 months before the end of the war. However she died of typhus and not at the hands of the Germans. She also lived an amazing life and for the short time on this planet her goal kept her determined and focussed on surviving, which she did for a great deal longer than most in her situation. Her father who is the most remarkable man who lived till the ripe old age of 91, it was he who was responsible for inspiring his daughter and family. He was the only one of the 8 to survive the holocaust.

My job here is not to convince you of goal setting though, I already believe in it and we have thousands of examples of it working literally to the letter.

A great example of this manifested itself this morning when Gail and I went through our goals we set on the 7th January earlier this year. (2009) Gail brought my attention to a goal which was written simply:

“Weekend Amsterdam + Rome”
As we were sat in Amsterdam in the lobby of The Grand Hotel reading this we were able to tick this one off, however when we wrote this goal what we had really meant to write was a weekend away in either Rome or Amsterdam.

What is the likelihood of hitting an obscure goal like this, 2 cities in different countries thousands of miles apart, different climates. Not the sort of trip you’d plan deliberately.

Even though we had written this goal down 9 months earlier and had also forgotten it, a very strange thing had happened.

On the Saturday morning we were flying to Rome. I was not over-enamoured by the idea of a weekend queuing and site seeing, however I arrived in Rome with an open mind. We arrived at the hotel by the Spanish Steps, however there was some sort of rally on and the place was crowded to say the least. That night Gail and I decided to take the plane to a much more chilled destination Amsterdam after a lovely dinner marred only by the chanting of a distant crowd in the square adjacent to the hotel. The plane and pilots were still in Rome for the night, so Gail called the pilot and arranged to meet them on the runway the next morning. So we hitched a lift with them on their way back to the UK.

It worked perfectly, we escaped the chaos of Rome had a few relaxed days in Amsterdam, hit a goal in to the bargain, to the letter.

So as my wise old Gran used to say, “Be careful what you wish for!

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