HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ON A MOON?
On this Log Book Entry I go back to my first goal setting session. It was 2013, not so long ago one could argue.
To me, it seems like a memory from another life. Before that, I was a rebel girl fully immersed, for more than a decade, into studying mythology, philology (languages and literature) and writing her own diary, poems, fantasy fiction. Rebellious against mediocre, nonsense, gloomy circumstances. I was living in some space in between my creative heart and mind, not fully present, not fully absent. Now I know it was a coping mechanism, but what a brilliant coping mechanism it was. It was later, after I got a splash of mediocre reality in the business world, that I found a way to ground myself and be fully present, while being fully connected to my higher purpose and exploring other realms.
But, by that time, in early 2013, I had zero touch points with the business world, business studies or entrepreneurs. Everything I knew about setting goals and effective ways of achieving them, I knew from sport. I was in sport from the age of 6 , playing professionally, both tennis and basketball, individual and collective sports (so different and so similar, theme for another post). while coming from a family of chess players, all high achievers, from both, my mother and father side.
To me, setting the bar high was natural and very early on I was taught that I should “shoot for the moon to land on a star”. I thought I understood the meaning, even though I wasn’t very happy with the consolation prize connotation the phrase has. It was later I discovered how this phrase serves highly ambitious humans.
To go back to my first goal setting session in 2013. Corporate world, strategy, vision, mission, on-boarding process and inevitable - goal setting. My leader showed me an excel form with outlined measurable goals for my position, within my department, that are directly linked to the company's strategy itself, on the left. On the right, we were supposed to define my action plan, steps with a timeline. All made sense. Except that it felt wrong. I didn’t know why at that moment, it was all Greek to me, but I found out very quickly. There was a gap.
Goals were defined for the position, within the department, directly linked to the company's strategy. Not for me. Therefore, the action plan was tied to a position, department and company much more than it was a personalized, custom made plan that would utilize my strengths and optimize my performance so as to use my unique human potential as a vessel for reaching the destination - goals.
In chess, tennis or basketball, players utilize their best qualities, whether it’s an opening like Queen’s gambit (anyone watched the show?), slice backhand or playing zone in defense really great. And that’s on an individual level, as well as on team level. You want to leverage strengths, work extra on lightning more and more of a hidden potential and correct blind angles. I guess that SWOT analysis in the business world is trying to do this.
The difference in effectiveness is because SWOT analysis stays on a piece of paper in some business plan (if ever even done, sounds familiar?) and in sport, the entire team, from player, head coach, physicians, psychologists, analysts, strategists, work on this daily. Player is a living organism so her game fluctuates daily so the more nuanced, multi dimensional and flexible plan for winning next year's tournament, the better the changes are.
Another thing was missing from that goal setting session. The part where we define how my leader can support me and help me. Not to support anyone who holds that particular position, but me, myself and I. However, this specific leader was wise enough to support me in some of the things I needed the most, but not all leaders and managers were. And that’s how the gap became more obvious.
As I mentioned previously, in sport, a player's support system is committed to the goal, the vision, the feeling of being 1st on the list. And that feeling, target feeling is crucial. It makes all the difference. Because that’s why the support system works fully on enabling the player to go far and beyond. Enable being the operative word. Leaders within organisations and entrepreneurs, as well, don’t understand their identity of an enabler, don’t associate with it and don’t work with it. Ego, always fear and hunger driven, is more domineering, an eternal overachiever with no deeper satisfaction.
So, when in 2014 I started to study what would now be labeled as “people skills” in business context and prepare myself for a leadership role and facilitating my first goal setting session, I was determined to make some tweaks into how things are done. First stop - target feeling, therefore - emotions and emotional intelligence. (later I expanded this approach to Energy in Motion - Emotion). Soon after, I moved to another city, more culturally diverse and started my own case study. My year long research was based on Coleman's work, culture of companies like Zappos and education on master studies I took that year, Cultures in Dialogue. My project got a green light from management and I gathered a focus group and we started testing new approaches.
My conclusions from that case study can find all over my today’s work, but I will mention one, the most interesting: After the first couple of days, focus group participants were so thrilled to work on this that their word of mouth soon started to bring requests of participation in my inbox (and on hallway), on a daily basis.
The thing was, the big deal was - we were talking emotions in a corporate setting, ladies and gentlemen. Have I already mentioned that I was leading a team with crazy sales targets?
And that’s when I discovered that shooting for the Moon to land on a Star is actually about the journey, about the process, not a destination and about letting go of control. Bunch of buzzwords, vague and distant, what does that really mean? And how counter-intuitive, right? To lead a sales team and not to be control obsessed, not to feel like failure if landing on a Star instead of a Moon. Actually, it couldn’t be more natural. Once I went back to my sport roots. And in sport, I remembered it really is about the game.
And do you know what the best games feel like?
Like out of a body experience. It’s when you are in the zone. You know no time, no space, no external circumstances, no external sounds. It’s a completely internal, intimate, innate experience. It’s the flow. It’s like breathing. You don’t think about it, you don’t analyse it, you are not afraid to run out of it. You don’t control it, you work with it, as it.
That’s how best wins feel like as well. Why?
Because no matter if you land on the Moon or the Star, it’s the feeling of reaching it in a state of flow that matters the most. That’s the feeling that leaves you with expansion, growth and fulfillment. It’s a little bit like coming back from visiting Wonderland, where no laws of our logic apply. And that’s where biggest breakthroughs happen, out of rigidity and structure of our logical mind.