Category Archives: Goal setting

When is failing, failure?

This is a question I’ve had the opportunity to consider in my work role that I commenced earlier this year. A core component is determining the presence of the scientific method in assessing complex research and development projects.

In science, I’ve learned failing is a lesson, a pathway to a revised experiment. In life, failing is more often seen as being unsuccessful. The reality is, though, that failing only becomes failure when we cease trying.

Muhammad Ali was a great boxer, deemed by many to be ‘The Greatest’ of the 20th century, perhaps all-time. As a boxer, he was knocked-down by opponents. How many world titles did he win from the canvas? He won world titles not by staying down, but by rising up and continuing to fight. Boxing analogies are well-used I know, but that’s because they reflect what many of us do not do. When we’re struck down, floored by an unseen challenge, we spend too much time working out how and why when we should be readying ourselves for the next round.

Are we using failing as an opportunity to learn and go again, or we allowing it to nudge us closer to failure?

This is where we need to adopt the view of science, not the world. We need to measure our efforts, our plans, by the systematic progression of work we’re employing, not by the immediate outcome.

Adopting the scientific method into our own world means that we begin with the idea, the dream, the goal. Around this we develop a framework of what we think is required – the skills, the knowledge, the relationships, the courage. This provides the platform for our ‘experiment’ where we infuse the idea with effort, where we give it a go.

At this point, the immediate outcome may not be the final result. If our effort delivers the outcome we desired, fantastic – move onto the next idea! If the outcome is not what we desired, fantastic – move back to the framework we created and alter, refine and expand. If the result remains the same after several iterations of the framework, we may even need to go back to the original idea to determine if this is valid for us at this point in time.

The famous quote attributed to the inventor of the lightbulb, Thomas Edison, epitomises the scientific method ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’

Failing only becomes failure when we cease trying.


Getting your life off pause

The song is on the playlist but there’s no sound. It’s all quiet and serene when it should be happening and upbeat!

The equipment is in order so what can it be?

We’ve hit the pause button! We didn’t hit pause consciously so what happened?

Many of us experience this in a much more significant fashion – our life seems to be on pause. It hasn’t finished, we know that, yet nothing’s happening.

How can we get our lives off pause? It’d be great if it was as simple as pushing the play button… it can be, kind of 🙂

Getting your life off pause starts with alignment. We need to align our actions with our aspirations, those goals that demand us to stretch. We can gaze upon where we’d like to be or consider the person we believe we could be and see only the gap between here and there. This leaves us parked in the gap, on pause.

Stepping out of the known, taking a risk, can be both challenging and confronting. This action, though, will help build a personal culture of growth and opportunity. It will close the gap between here and there.

Aligning our actions with our aspirations starts with everyday decisions. We can have amazingly productive days or weeks, crossing multiple items off our ‘to do’ list, but if finalising them do not move us towards our goals, then we need to re-prioritise. Consider the macro goals and make decisions that reduce the gap between here and there by one step. Start. Daily.

Find your play button and let’s close the gap between here and there!


Just do something!

My life has been characterised by potential. Mostly unrealised potential. This has caused me significant frustration, equating this to a lack of value in myself, thinking that I have let other’s down. Thankfully I am now aware of this and have been working upon this not-so-desirable aspect of myself. The key I hold onto are three words my wife once said to me “…just do something!”.

The context was me expressing how I thought I had let down my wife and my family. It was a major league pity party. After my emotional release, I was surprised by my wife’s response “I really don’t care what you do, just do something!!”.


This was not the 5 step plan that would have removed all responsibility from my shoulders. This was not the “my poor darling” join in the pity-party approach. This was tough love. This was my wife undeniably backing me whilst challenging me to step up and be the difference I so sorely wanted to be.

I’m not there yet. I sometimes feel old and that I’ve missed something somewhere. But I also know that this potential within me will continue to be realised and progressively ‘topped up’. My desire to empower, enable and equip others has taken many forms over the years and I know I have been gifted an ability to help others realise their vision. I can practically create a sense of order around a dream that otherwise seemed chaotic.

Stepping into potential begins with just that, a step. Even if we’re not confident we’re stepping in the right direction, at least we’re moving! Let’s start by just doing SOMETHING!


“Won’t power”

It’s not the willpower, it’s the ‘won’t power’ that’s important” was regularly recounted by my dad when people spoke about diets and refraining from certain foods. He was, of course, talking about one’s ability to say ‘no’ to those foods rather than simply the desire for change. I’ve found that whilst seasons of saying “yes” to opportunities have enlarged my world and my capacity incredibly, the power of saying NO to behaviours and attitudes is paramount to lasting change.

Change starts with a desire. A wish for things to be different. Whatever this ‘different’ is – be it in the area of health, relationships, finance, career, parenting – will always require a change in both our behaviour and mindset. What we do and how we think is essential for lasting change. This is where my dad’s quip is important – we need to say NO to those old behaviours, those old mindsets and attitudes, replacing them with the new desired behaviour and thinking. Being keen and enthusiastic won’t bring the results – action is always required!

As we step into a new year, some of us tend to resolve that ‘things will be different this year!’ The resolve won’t deliver change. If we’re genuine about change for the sake of ourselves and those around us, then let’s remember the ‘won’t power’.

What do you need to say NO to in 2016?




Learner or Judger?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel “stuck”.

Maybe you, too, sometimes feel this way and want to move from being “stuck” to finding possibilities and solutions?

Marilee Adams, an adjunct professor and leadership author, explored the premise of changing the mindset of a team – or ourselves! – by considering the questions we ask. Are we asking questions that lead to breakthrough and encourage change or we are asking questions that lead to stagnation and demoralization?

According to Professor Adams, we need to consider whether we’re asking ‘learner questions’ or ‘judger questions’. It’s natural for us to ask both types of questions when addressing a challenge or responding to a situation, but without learner questions, outcomes suffer.

Judgers ask… Who is to blame?

Learners ask… What am I responsible for?

Judgers ask… How can I prove I’m right?

Learners ask… What are the facts and what am I assuming?

Judgers ask… Why bother?

Learners ask… What’s possible?

What are we asking?

Am I asking myself learner or judger questions?

We need to consider what impact the questions we’re asking are having on our attitude, our engagement, our productivity. To move from being stuck to finding possibilities, we must be intentional towards the outcomes we desire by creating learner questions focused on our goals in specific areas.

Flick the switch – become a learner!

Let Hope Rise.

Can you give an hour a day?

Having been challenged to write a book, I know the journey is not as simple as telling the story. It is significantly more complex and demanding than I could ever have imagined!  But the process reminds of the old joke: ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…’

I heard a radio interview with an author where he was asked how he found the time to create his work? After all, he was dad to two small children, had a demanding full-time job that often took him away from home, and had all the usual day-to-day responsibilities associated with running his household.  Anticipating his answer would be the revolutionary key I needed, I eagerly awaited his response…

One hour a day.

That was the revelation. One hour a day. One bite at a time.

He explained that after his daughters went to bed he committed himself to writing one hour every night. And over the course of many years, his novel slowly took shape, until the day when he invited his eldest daughter into his office to type those incredible words “The End”.

One hour a day.

If we think we’ve over committed, it could be that we’re trying to consume the entire project. Perhaps, we need to break it down into manageable portions spread over a longer period.

One hour a day. Is your dream worth this investment?


Image credit: matttilda / 123RF Stock Photo