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Don’t Set Goals. Track Activity. (#126)

The Confident Leader

Michael, a very successful CEO said, “Robin, I typically have company goals, but I haven’t had individual professional goals in a long time. How should I go about doing that?” What I shared with him was a bit counterintuitive from the standard goal-setting approach.

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.
— Bill Copeland (American poet, writer and historian)

This Week’s Edition

If your so fed up with not achieving your goals that you’ve given up on even setting goals, this week’s edition is for you. Forget the goal. Focus on the activity to achieve the goal.

Clarify Your Thinking

“What are you working on?” I asked my twenty-year old son who was home from college.

“My goals for next year,” he said. 

“That’s great. Do you think you will accomplish them?”

“Of course,” he said confidently. 

“What makes you so sure?” I asked. 

He proceeded to show me his calendar from last year. The year-at-a-glance view showed most days with a check mark – the days he completed his fitness routine. About 75% of the entire 365 days were checked.

He didn’t know it, but he was demonstrating the solution to the perennial problem of failed New Year’s resolutions – activity tracking AND consistency.

90% of all New Year’s resolutions fail with in 6 weeks. The same is true for business goals. The accumulation of these failed efforts to complete a particular goal year over year lodges in a leader’s thinking, “why can’t I ever seem to achieve this goal?”

This type of questioning produces thoughts running in the background of a leader’s mind. As this type of leadership doubt persists it creates an artificial limitation in what the leader believes they can accomplish.

Old Thinking: This is the fourth year I haven’t been able to really establish a strong relationship with some of my team. I guess I won’t ever be able to do that. I’ll just settle for this limitation in my leadership.

New Thinking: Maybe my goal setting approach needs adjusting. I should focus on the activities that will help me generate my desired results and do those consistently.

Thoughts Lead to Actions

We all know how to set a goal, because we are often clear on the result we want:

  • Lose 10 pounds

  • Develop a deeper relationship with my team

  • Be more proactive and less reactive day-to-day

What we are not so good at is determining: 

  • WHAT we should be doing 

  • HOW to do it 

  • WHEN we should do it OR  

  • WHO we need to help us 

Take these 3 simple steps to finally conquer at least ONE goal this year:

Step 1: Identify the desired result

Step 2: Determine the activity to be done (and the frequency) to achieve the result 

Step 3: Calendar the activity and track your completion rate 

Michael implemented these three steps and decided he wanted a deeper more effective relationship with two of his key team members. He choose his activities – a morning huddle and a monthly lunch. He calendared these activities realizing that if they aren’t scheduled they won’t happen. 

Boost Your Performance

I’m confident my son will repeat his success from last year related to his goals. I’m thankful for the simplicity of his approach and ability to share it with you leaders so this year can be the most accomplished year of your leadership yet. Watch this week’s video to see how to design the leadership life you want to live.

What’s Your Opinion?

What’s your tip of trick to actually accomplish a goal? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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