“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo –
In the early 1960’s, then President John F. Kennedy issued a challenge to the US space agency to send a man to the moon and back by the end of the decade. Most people thought this was utterly impossible and irresponsible to even suggest. But, the many elements of government and private industry collaborated and in July, 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first person to step onto the moon and return safely to earth. Kennedy’s big dream and impossible goal were the drivers that made this possible.
What about us? Do we aim too low? It seems we establish “aspirational” goals to improve by 10%, or some other incremental amount, year-after-year without really considering what might be possible. Would we not be better to target a 40% year-over-year improvement and fall 15% short than target a 10% improvement and feel good that we beat that?
What about us as individuals? Are we thinking big enough? How often do we lower our own expectations because our goals seem too much, too significant, or too far out of reach? Sure, I know… in this age of performance management and our effort to achieve an “exceeding” year-end rating, do we dare publish an objective that might be a stretch? What is the proper balance between aiming high, but not so high that you risk missing your target? How much should we push?
There is not a great answer to this question. It is too bad that some performance management systems place a higher premium on “achieving targets” than it does “adding overall value”. However, I would argue that if our focus is on adding value and driving improvement, the rest will take care of itself. At the very least, we will each know that we made a positive difference.
Today’s challenge is this… Do we need to think bigger? Do we need to push aside those barriers that appear to hold us back? Can we do more/better/faster than we’ve ever done before? Is it time to take that big risk that we have avoided? Do we need to risk getting out of our comfort zone? What is it that Michelangelo’s quote might be urging you to do today?
Have one of those “top ten” days!