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Nov 30, 2006

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Set realistic goals

The Fox and the Grapes, Aesop's fables

Consciously or otherwise, we have set for ourselves personal
goals and targets that we hope to achieve. We know that goals
must be somewhat specific. If your goal is to “eat less” or
“lose weight”, you may find yourself completely unsatisfied
many years later because you will always feel that you have
not achieved your goals. It is different if you were to set your
goal to “lose 20 pounds” and a quick weighing on the scale
will confirm whether or not you have attained your goal. Just
as important, goals have to be realistic. It is one thing to say
you want to run the 100 meters sprint under 9 seconds. It is
another to aim to take a quantum leap and clear the 100
meters under 5 seconds. Goals which are too unrealistic may
demotivate you and affect your morale.

Story:

The Fox and the Grapes

The Fox and the Grapes


(Illus by Harrison Weir, John Tenniel, Ernest Griset)


One hot summer's day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till
he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had
been trained over a lofty branch. "Just the thing to quench my
thirst," quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and
a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a
One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success.
Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last
had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air,
saying: "I am sure they are sour."

Moral:

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

Kidding me:

Hard work alone does not pay. We should learn to work smart
and utilise all the resources available to us. In this case, why
jump when a ladder is all it needs to get up the vine.

Enjoy this Stress Relief game, courtesy of Miniclip.com.







Quotable Quotes:

“The goals on which hope are based have to be
realistic.” ... Arthur Lydiard

“If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little
above it.” ... Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Despair is the prize one pays for setting oneself
an impossible aim.” ... Graham Greene

“The art of reaching business targets is not to aim
at the impossible, but to aim at the championship
level.” ... Charles Forte

“The trouble with being in the rat race is that even
if you win, you're still a rat.” ... Lily Tomlin

“I treat everything as a learning experience; then
you become detached from the result and more
interested in the experience itself.” ... Lorraine Moller

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

Often, we set our goals too high and unattainable. As a result of
constant failure in achieving these goals, we develop a habit of
making excuses instead of examining the root cause of our
failures. Having unrealistic goals has a negative impact on the
company's morale and investors' confidence. If you are pretty
confident that your company can pull of a 50% jump in profits,
set your target anywhere between 30% to 40%. It is an
achievable target that does not put undue pressure on your
sales team. When they do meet the final figure of about 50%
increase, they will be elated, and will be proud to announce
their achievements. Let them be. Reward them for the better
than expected showing, and keep them motivated enough to
do an even better job the following year. Your stakeholders
will be pleased as well, and will sing praises on your leadership
in steering the company to a remarkable performance. Compare
this to a different scenario, where you set a target of 80% profit
increase, hoping that your staff will try very hard, and will
eventually meet somewhere about 50%. What happens is that
your staff will indeed toil hard, suffer tremendous stress, have
constant nightmares, and eventually become frustrated and
demoralized when they fail to meet your unrealistic target.
Although it is something that you would expect, it is not
something that they can put up with. Other staff, together with
your stakeholders, may blame them too for not being able to
achieve the goals. You are hard put to give them less rewards,
and perhaps a pay freeze. They leave the company thinking
that the company is not appreciative of their efforts. Ultimately,
you are in a worse-off position, and may even lose the support
of your stakeholders in your management and leadership style.
The lesson is also for parents who put undue pressure on their
children to perform well in their pursuits, academic or otherwise.
It is important to know your children's capabilities. Forcing them
to top their classes, when you know they are merely average
performers, will only cause them to lose interest in their studies
altogether. In extreme circumstances, as is the case in highly
competitive environments like Japan, the children may simply
commit suicide to end their misery.

Related Articles:

Importance of planning
Cope with Work Stress
Dreams, Goals, and Motivation

Books worth reading:

Start young. What Do You Really Want? How to Set a Goal and
Go for It! A Guide for Teens by successful business entrepreneur,
Beverly Bachel, guides teens in defining their interests,
formulating workable goals, and celebrating their achievements.
The easy-to-read style should attract teens, and bring them on the
path of attaining their goals.

For an alternative view, you may read world-class rock climber
Todd Skinner's book Beyond the Summit: Setting and Surpassing
Extraordinary Business Goals. In his opinion, you should set your
goals even higher than you normally would. Once the impossible
target is set, you can then think of new ways to achieve that.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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