Goals and Success

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- One of my favorite questions to ask formal leaders is how they define success. Interestingly, I’ve never heard one relate success to rank.

I also ask Airmen how they define success and have received an array of answers. The most common answer, usually following a long pause, is in some way related to goal accomplishment. Almost everyone I’ve spoken with seems to understand this concept, so why do so many people not have goals or make goals and settle for less than what they set out for?

I believe it is our job to mentor everyone around us regardless of rank. Part of this includes getting to know people as individuals, helping them figure out what they want in life, and following up on their progress. When we can instill a sense of self-accountability in people, where they get disappointed in themselves for falling short and quit making excuses, we leave them with a powerful drive to succeed. Some people just need someone else to believe in them before they begin to unleash their potential.

If you are not able to make goals and follow through on them, it will be hard for you to coach others on success.

When is the last time you asked yourself “Where am I going from here and what do I want out of life?” Do you have a solid answer to those questions? Too many of us take life one day at a time with no real path of what we want to accomplish. We cross bridges as they come, just surviving to live another day.

Find a leader that knows what he or she wants and look at the drive and determination they have, the will and grit they bring each day. Do you want to be more like them or do you want to quit because you can’t compete with them?

Successful people don’t change their goals because they are tired or the timing isn’t perfect. They don’t find an excuse for why they couldn’t get it done; they just get it done and move on. If you fall into the trap of getting discouraged because of the accomplishments of others, you need to change your game plan. Reevaluate what’s important to you and focus your energy on improving yourself.

One of the most overlooked aspects of setting goals is aligning them with your value - not your supervisor’s values and not your friends’ values. You must be willing to make sacrifices. If you make a fitness goal but aren’t willing to sacrifice television time or sleep, you value television and sleep too much. It’s not always easy to align goals with values, but follow-through is what separates mediocrity from greatness. To be successful, you must commit to holding yourself accountable.

Setting challenging goals and strategizing a path to accomplishing them should be a priority in every aspect of life. If you are spending time that is not focused on goal accomplishment, it is wasted time. Evaluate your routines to see how much waste is in your day. Sure, goals are risky. You may put in all the work and still come up short, which is why it takes mental toughness and resilience to keep grinding when the odds are against you. As Ray Lewis, retired NFL star, said, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.”

When I was younger I was getting ready for a football game and it was blistering cold outside. I looked at my brother and said, “It’s too cold to play.” He smiled and said, “I love it, I dominate in the cold!”

The lesson he taught me was to find a way to thrive in uncomfortable situations. There isn’t anyone I know that has been able to achieve success without the ability to face adversity and overcome it. It’s easy to shine when everyone is patting you on the back and praising your efforts, but when you are beat down and no one is watching, your real character emerges. Vince Lombardi said, “Winning is a habit, but unfortunately, so is losing.”