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Does Goal Setting Work?
For those of you that are new, this is the podcast where my wife and I live our lives. We manage and founded a five-time Inc. 5000 company. It means we’re a pretty rapidly growing business, 150-plus people, a couple of different offices all over the world and we live life. If we hear something or are part of something where clearly a message has gone forward that helps a company or a person grow their business, we take note and pay attention to it and make sure we podcast about it. If it helps one person, it can probably help hundreds if not millions.
This episode is apropos. My guess is there are two camps listening to this podcast. One camp has not only set some goals, but they’ve also put them in writing, they’re very strict about them and they’re going to focus on them until they’re accomplished. I believe there’s another camp listening to this podcast that doesn’t actually believe in goals. They’ve never set a goal. They have never written a goal. I know you’ve heard me a few times say, “Brian Tracy believes if a goal isn’t in writing, it’s not real because you’re afraid of it.” What I want to provide in this podcast is simply fodder.
I want to provide some food for thought and I want to give people something to really think about when it comes to goal setting. There are some good books on goals. I’m a fanboy of Brian Tracy. He’s got a book called, Eat That Frog. It’s his second or third bestselling book. It’s excellent. There are some great goal-setting books out there but that’s not what this podcast is about. I want to give some case study evidence of how some simple fundamental concepts of writing a goal down. You don’t have to go to the dramatic effect of pulling the goals out every day, every week and every hour and reading them out loud. Although I do believe in that to some degree. I want to put forward a few things that have happened in my life and then some stories that I vetted and found to be true that are cool.
Take a chance on yourself, put a goal in writing, and get it done. Click To Tweet
In 2001, my wife and I were attending a conference, and somebody was on a stage telling us, “Take a physical piece of construction paper like two-feet-wide, three-feet-tall and do an exercise with your spouse where you truly start dreaming like a little kid again. Go into magazines and start carving out photographs of things you’d like to have and places you’d like to visit and people you’d like to be within the next five to ten years. Glue them on this thick cork board or whatever you want to call it.” We went home from this conference and we did exactly as the person described.
I’ll never forget it. It was a white piece of foam board I wanted something thick and we started carving out, “If time and money were no object, what kind of house do we want? We want a three-story white house on a lake. What kind of car do we want to drive? We want a big SUV, so our kids are safe. What kind of toys do we want? We want jet skis, ski boats, and stuff like that. We’re going to live on a lake, we might as well have paddleboards and Stand Up Paddle Boards.” We put pictures of everything there. Then there were tons of pictures of our kids, family and lots of pictures of vacations. One was a picture of Kerri and me in a hammock. We superimposed it over a hammock swinging in the breeze. We want a downtime. There was a picture of me reading books because I love to be left alone to read.
We made this dream board and we showed our kids. The kids got excited and they made a dream board. It was cool. What wasn’t so cool was I don’t know where that thing went. We lost it. We ended up moving a couple times. In 2015, I was going into the back room of our house, we actually have a bar in the basement. It was one of my goals, which wasn’t on the dream board, but I’ve always wanted to save money and have a bar in my basement like an actual tavern. After seventeen years of saving a little bit each year, a buddy of mine came over. Over a sixteen-week period of time, he and I built a seventeen-stool bar in my basement. He was a general contractor of fine homes and it’s a world-class bar. It’s fully stocked, three refrigerators, ice maker. You walk in my basement you think you’re in a restaurant. It’s gorgeous, lighting the whole shot and it’s amazing.
Here’s the key. The room to the right of the bar was a storage room of junk. One day I went back there, it was all dusty and I started moving some of the folding tables, folding chairs and I needed to get to the water softener and turn off the water valve because we were about to put a sprinkler system in the grass. I moved this huge folding table, a picture of the old-fashioned folding tables. All of a sudden, I saw something and I was like, “Is that what I think that is?” Sure enough, it was the dream board Kerri and I did in 2001. I don’t remember putting it there. Kerri doesn’t remember putting it there. The best we can think of is our kids. Every time we moved from house to house, they must have been moving this thing because Kerri and I are 100% sure we didn’t touch it. This thing was filthy. We pulled it out, dusted it off. Would you believe that 90% of everything on the dream board, including the three-story white house on a lake came true? We live in a three-story home on a nice private ski lake with a beautiful wakeboard. We have SUPs, all the toys, and a beautiful beach. Our life is surreal at our home. We travel all over the place. We spend a lot of time reading books and traveling with our kids. I haven’t seen it for years. Almost virtually and literally, the picture came true. That’s one.
There’s a great story of the comedian, Jim Carrey. Before he became famous, he was literally doing stand-up comedy. He and his buddies were out drinking, he pulled out a checkbook and he wrote himself a check for $1 million. He hands it to his buddies and said, “Check that out. I got paid to make a movie, $1 million.” They all laughed and said, “It sounds good, Jim. Here’s your check back.” Lo and behold, Jim Carrey got from Paramount Pictures for the movie, Mask, “A check to Jim Carrey for $1 million.” It’s a little nugget out there.
In 2009, I bumped into a gentleman named Dave Conklin. I studied Dave who was a great marketer. I found out that his company hit the Inc. 500 list. There was so much publicity on the internet about this company that I remember going to Inc. Magazine and rifling through the magazine at O’Hare Airport to find out what is this Inc. 500 list? There was a full-page ad and all it says on the whole piece of paper is the number 500. The five is in red, the first zero is yellow and the second zero is blue. It says, “500,” in a really big, colorful way and below it are two words, “Apply now.” I don’t have a clue what this is. Dave Conklin’s company hitting the Inc. 500 list made his company famous. I ripped out this piece of paper. I went on my trip, came back home and I literally corked directly onto the drywall of my office a piece of paper. It’s very tan, orange, the sun has beat it up. It’s faded and it says, “500.”
Here’s what’s funny. I didn’t do any homework or figure out what this Inc. 500 list was all about. Years later, even though our company has never hit the Inc. 500 list, which means we’re one of the 500 fastest growing US companies out of eighteen million, it’s interesting to note that on five different occasions, five different years, we’ve grown so fast over a four-year period of time, we’ve hit the Inc. 5000 list. It means we’re in the top 5,000 fastest growing companies in the United States out of eighteen million. We usually come in around a thousand fastest growing for some reason. I thought that was interesting.
I love the story of Colonel Sanders. He’s 65 years old and this is back in the ‘50s, ‘60s when 65 was old. He is 100% full gray hair, chunky and he says to his wife, “Honey, I’m going to get out of this chair. I’m going to go knock on to a restaurant’s door and I’m going to make them a recipe of chicken. I’m going to make them a recipe for chicken because some big company is going to buy my recipe. You’re not going to see me, I’m not coming home until I have someone that is going to pay us for our recipe. I’m so sick of people telling me, ‘How come this isn’t in restaurants?’” He did come back to see his wife a few times, but it took two full years. He got in what I believe a white Station Wagon. He traveled the country and lo and behold, the 1,009th restaurant that he cooked chicken for wrote him a big fat check and bought the licensing rights to what is now known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Colonel Sanders spoke that goal to his wife and said, “I am not coming home until it’s done,” and he did it. I’m not going to go into tremendous detail because I’ve covered this a couple of times.
If you have not read the episode about what happened to me as a freshman at Carl Sandburg High School when I was on the football team, I was an okay football player. I was a running back. I wasn’t amazing but I was very fast, very strong but I fumbled a lot. I fumbled nine times as a freshman, but I had a good head on my shoulders. The fateful day when the varsity coach walked by and said, “Are you Kenny Courtright?” I said, “Yes.” He says, “You’re the starting running back for freshmen, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes.” He goes, “I’m Coach Seliga. I’m the head coach of varsity.” I said, “Coach, I know who you are.” He says, “I want to talk to you. I’ve been talking to the other coaches and we looked at how you hold yourself. We’ve seen your speed and we believe that if you keep your head on straight, you could break all the records as a senior, as a running back in this school.”
At first, I didn’t believe him, but he kept staring at me and I said, “Are you serious?” He was like, “Yes, but you’re going to have to work.” I said, “Coach, what exactly would I have to do to break all the records?” He said, “It’s simple. Number one, before school every day, run sprints. Do 40-yard dashes in front of your house a couple times a week. Do some long distance to get your wind up. Most importantly, you’ve got to write down the record on an index card and put it in your pillow and sleep on it.” I said, “What’s the record?” He says, “It’s 1,054 yards held by Coach Navarro. He coaches at this school and you sleep on it and you look at it on a regular basis.” I’ve told this so many times, I did not let my mom for a few years wash my pillowcase because I had my record in there.
Several years later, I broke that record in the seventh game of the season with a couple of games to go. After many years, the yards in a season, yards per carry, yards in a game, all the records I broke all those years ago are still there now. The best part of the story is that I met the coaches many years later. The varsity coach passed away. It was at his wake or his funeral where one of the other coaches came up to me and said, “Kenny, do you want to hear a great story?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “It’s cool that your records are still there.” I was like, “It’s cool.” He goes, “Remember when we walked up to you and told you that we believed you could break all the records?” I said, “Yes.” He goes, “We tell that to every freshman running back.” I said, “I wish you wouldn’t have told me that. I’ve taken that to heart and that meant a lot to me.” He goes, “What we want to talk to you about is you broke all the records, but do you want to hear something amazing?” I said, “Sure, go ahead.” He goes, “In many years, you’re the only person that ever wrote the record down on an index card, put it in their pillow and slept on it as we suggested.” I said, “Thanks for telling me that.”
Here’s my question to you, what if it works? What if putting a goal in writing, literally planting it into your subconscious, let alone speaking out loud on a regular basis that’s called an affirmation, which just strengthens it. You don’t have to tell anybody you’re doing this. Why don’t you take out a piece of paper? Why don’t you take a chance on yourself? Why don’t you take a chance on this crazy thing called written goal setting? Why don’t you pick a crazy goal and write it down? If you’ve got some guts, intestinal fortitude, why don’t you say to yourself, “I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do this but every week, every month, every day, I’m going to somehow do a little something to inch my way towards this?” The key is you’ve got to write it down and just like my 500, you’ve got to put it in front of you and keep it in front of you. It may take longer than you think but so what? What if you don’t write down the goal at all? You’ve got no shot, no chance. Take a chance on yourself, put a goal in writing, get it done. Take care.