“I'm tired of passive living. I'm sick of passively letting life drive my existence. I want to control my time, finances, and surroundings. I want to determine any given day's schedule, activities, and outcomes. I want to minimize regret, the dependence on others, and any barrier that sucks me into mediocrity. I know better and struggle with common challenges yet can't achieve meaningful satisfaction. And, I've been saying the same s#!t for 10 years. There's an entirely different world I want to experience. I want to live with more satisfaction and control, and ultimately influence my life. (Forget anyone and anything that negatively influences it for me.) While my standards are high, there is a point at which enough is enough. My problem is that's a ways away; I'm just getting older and time is speeding up. Enough is enough. I must choose to actively drive my life or accept my choice to live in mediocrity. The first step is to choose action.”-Jack Patton
This is an email I sent to myself several years ago during a frustrating day. Enough was enough — something had to change. Work was tough for several reasons and the experience of being yanked around by the tyranny of the urgent — all of which was completely avoidable — was exhausting. As someone who values work-life integration, it was clear the vast majority of energy, at home and work, was negative. Work-life is important because, as the son of an engineer, I constantly mull problems over until finding a solution. (This is one reason my wife often asks me to use my outside voice.) In other words, I am often consumed with thinking about work. It’s always top-of-mind, which amplifies issues if they’re bad — I constantly dwell on negativity and frustration. As a result, the idea of creating and relying on positive assets seemed more far-fetched than I wanted because everything revolved in a world of obligation and problem-prevention. I felt stuck and needed to find a way out.
After living with an increasing level of frustration — again, think irritability, impatience, and myopia — for over ten years. Some of this went back to my early career as a musician; resentment and irritability were skyrocketing because I knew I was pursuing something that wasn’t a passion. This sense of frustration affected my decision-making, clouded judgment, and overtook most of my energy. It was unhealthy and often created tingling shocks when my blood pressure would skyrocket after being zinged through some terse interaction, client demand, or nasty email or text. I’ve been fortunate to have a strong network of mentors and trusted advisors, but it was clear something needed to change. Most encouraged me to invest in professional activities that created positive feelings. And, then one trusted advisor, Karl LaPan, the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center’s CEO, shared the Harvard Business Review article, “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time,” which reinforced their advice.
These ideas affirmed the following. “To effectively reenergize their workforces, organizations need to shift their emphasis from getting more out of people to investing more in them, so they are motivated—and able—to bring more of themselves to work every day. To recharge themselves, individuals need to recognize the costs of energy-depleting behaviors and then take responsibility for changing them, regardless of the circumstances they’re facing.”
Bingo. This showed just how far away I was to experiences that created positive resources, like energy, memories, motivation, and confidence. As someone with high self-efficacy, I was doing the opposite: experiencing things that depleted the very resources I needed to be a better version of myself.
The email to myself proved just how much I wanted to experience life differently. That's still true today, but the idea looks and feels different. The bottom line: I longed to live another way. I felt stuck and trapped. Another business owner once described me during a meeting — with my supervisor — like a racehorse who was tied up to a post, running in circles. That may seem arrogant to share here, but that's exactly how I felt. There's no doubt I was chomping at the bit and felt held back. (h/t Barry.) While this email was an outward expression of many things, it was one brief moment through many little steps that now provide perspective.
I developed the habit of getting up around 4:30 am in my mid-twenties for a couple of reasons. First, it was a great way to jump-start the day with lots of coffee and clear thoughts. Second, I learn, read, think, and process best early in the day, especially when it's quiet. Third, creating this foundational routine provided a trajectory I could carry throughout the day. Fourth, this is the only focused time I have at home with an active family. Last, I was learning and applying a TON of information. All in all, starting to work on passion projects at 4:30 am created a valuable and impactful experience.
As a life-long learner, I thrive on the variety that comes with learning new things. This excites me, especially when solving a problem, and feels way more rewarding than being told what to do. I find the whole process to be invigorating and, again, get immersed in the problem until solving it. Researching and learning about ways to solve my frustrations was both educational and rewarding. Even though I was often short on sleep, the energy I accumulated from this deep work was stimulating and over-compensated any fatigue. This routine was easy to maintain while we had kids and I returned to grad school for an MBA. The fringe hour deep work always paid off and was worthwhile. I felt more productive, energized, and purposeful. My ideal future became more clear and tangible.
Through the course of various passion projects, I became fixated on choice, as is the choice we have with certain levels of the cognitive ability to think. Whether Freewill or The Paradox of Choice, there’s lots of great literature around the subject. But, for me, the research from over two-dozen scholarly articles and many non-fiction books was only as good as the ability to apply it. After compiling nearly 500 pages of notes and synthesizing them down into 100, I was able to create a framework that I could use. The ideas had been floating around since I was a kid, literally. But, now the rationale and context for certain things became clear enough to do something for me. Solutions started to become evident.
As shown in the Growth Guide™, adversity surrounds us. It’s inevitable. At the same time, adversity creates a phenomenal opportunity to learn and grow. Every chance to overcome the slightest challenge is a gift to accomplish something. Over time this produces positive resources that we, as individuals, use to proactively overcome adversity. It’s the difference between making an objective and informed decision versus reacting with emotion. I.e., overcoming adversity can help you make better decisions, one after another. This idea and all of the research that surrounds it was a game-changer. Suddenly my restlessness and high need for closure could be used for something other than creating anxiety and irritability. But, embracing adversity's inevitability was only the first step.
Over time and many iterations of technical proof of concept, the ability to consistently and repeatedly create solutions and apply findings made a difference. No matter the conversation, whether personal or professional, recurring themes were everywhere. This was great fodder for refining concepts and for using trial and error to improve everything. But, most importantly, I was applying what I learned. This exploration and discovery created a new learning experience that instilled confidence, vulnerability, core values, and a little courage. I knew I was making progress.
Life evolved to the point where I launched STRE.ME in the fall of 2018. Enabled and empowered with the knowledge, skillset, and tools to flourish, I was suddenly challenged to eat my own dog food, to use the same tools I’m asking others to use. But, as uncomfortable as it is, there's a tremendous gift to be allowed to share this with others. This is why STRE.ME was launched and continues to evolve. Now, STRE.ME has products and services that are based on ideas and applications for a repeatable framework. It's all about enabling others to progress with purpose. Moreover, the goal is to help others earn their future. Check out the Growth Guide™ and mobile app for a simple and cost-effective way to pursue goals and track your progress. Let an accountability partner participate in your journey. Or, schedule some time to walk through the process with me through TeleCoaching packages. You can also check out Feature Toolkit if you're developing new technology and want your development dollars to go farther faster. Whatever the case may be, simply evolving STRE.ME to the point of having products available represents significant progress away from the idea that passivity sucks.
Through Axiogenics’s cognitive self-leadership coaching offered by Moellering Management, I began using personal assets to overcome biases. This helped me to do things like learning to control what I could control, being at peace with what is, and centering myself around natural tendencies. It's still a work in process, for sure, but continues to be valuable and formative ways to think, reflect, and embrace the chaos inside and around me. Again, it's another way to eat my own dog food. But, more to the point, STRE.ME is now delivering something new.
It’s still early, but if you’re looking for proven, traditional, middle-of-the-road life experiences (especially with goal setting), then I’m happy to provide other options. But, if you’re looking for something new, unproven, daring, transformative, important, and an experience that only early adopters care enough to do — those who are brave enough to try — then try STRE.ME. Download 500+ Ways To Earn Your Future, like STRE.ME’s Facebook page, get the Growth Guide™ and annual mobile subscription and ask yourself whether you’re ready to actively earn your future. I am and welcome others to join.
Many business environments have competing demands that make it difficult for any one person, team, or company to focus. It’s one reason so many firms struggle to keep up everything—from working through growth plateaus to achieving something new, especially when everyone is already “busy.” Unfortunately, these are the very challenges that hold organizations, teams, and individuals back, especially when setting goals. Researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham wrote about Goal-Setting Theory in A Theory of Setting & Task Performance (1990) and suggested multiple attributes affect goal attainment. The essence of their findings is very relatable and practical for daily activities. In short, setting no goal creates a lack of focus; an easy goal fails to provide positive challenge and motivation, and vague goals are too undefined. Moreover, criteria must be met in order to help ensure successful goal attainment. If a person doesn’t have the ability, resources, commitment, or objective feedback on progress towards goal attainment, then they’re less likely to successfully persist toward completion. There is, however, another way to think about setting goals.
When thinking about Goal-Setting Theory, there’s a totally different way to think about success and engagement. Here are three ways to increase your confidence as a business leader by using learning, behavior, and performance goals.
While pursuing a goal, future state, end result, or outcome may seem overwhelming, this process can make the process more manageable and increase your confidence. And, when that happens, you’ll increase the likelihood of success and engagement towards goal attainment. Moreover, the more you consistently engage in goal pursuit, the more confidence you have, which will help you to build and sustain an abundance mindset. Finally, STRE.ME’s Strategic Boost Template makes the process that much more pertinent. Everything you need to increase your confidence as a business leader is in hand. Just start by designing your future with performance, behavior, and learning goals.
People from all walks of life set goals. The actual numbers vary, depending on quoted or misquoted research. There’s no such data here, but it’s easy to imagine how many people feel the need to gain clarity about the future by setting goals. Or, sometimes goals are set just for the challenge of it. But, in reality, many people flounder or fail when setting goals because the goals, themselves, are too general or simple. And sometimes the individual is simply not committed enough to attain the goal. Then, there are times when goal completion can be unsatisfying because it’s too easy and fails to stretch the individual. The point is, people can easily lose the true value in setting and achieving goals. But, there’s another way: harness the power of three different types of goals.
One of the first steps to maximizing the value of goal attainment is to look at the different types that exist. According to Latham and Seijts’s Distinguished Scholar Essary: Similarities and Differences Among Performance, Behavioral, and Learning Goals (2016), “three types of goals are described: performance, behavioral, and learning,” all of which apply to individuals, teams, and organizations.
Performance goals are the kind that shows the outcome, desired result, or future state. In business, they often include things like revenue generation, cost reduction, cost per customer or acquisition, and the like. These can be the most obvious, yet difficult to achieve. Behavior goals are more operational in nature and describe the way business should be conducted. They demonstrate and measure the effectiveness of activity within a given period of time. Capacity utilization levels, the Net Promoter Score, website bounce rates on target landing pages, and conversion rates through the marketing or sales funnel are examples. And, last but certainly not least, are learning goals, which all about acquiring, building, or improving something like knowledge, a skill, or product when an individual has yet to master whatever is being acquired or built.
When looking at these different types of goals, it becomes easy to think about how to apply them to almost any skill. If you want to golf, then a learning goal is to learn how to grip and swing the club. A behavior goal is to have a consistent backswing and tempo, and a performance goal is to break 80. If you want to be a jazz musician, then learning goals could include learning how to play the instrument and understanding the idiom’s theory, harmony, and language. Behavior goals include comfortably playing through the changes of a given tune, and performance goals include making it through something like Giant Steps at 260 BPM without being kicked off the bandstand. In the business world, you may have a goal to:
There’s a natural flow to goals when you understand what types of goals exist. Since learning goals acquire or build something, behavior goals are about the individual, team, or organization’s effectiveness during a period of time, and performance goals are the outcome or desired result, the relationship looks something like this:
And, much like the difference between an abundance and scarcity mindset, this relationship can easily turn into a virtuous growth mindset, which increases self-efficacy and confidence. When confidence increases, you become more engaged in goal setting and attainment and, in turn, more open to possibility.
More to the point and also from Similarities and Differences Among Performance, Behavioral, and Learning Goals (2016), Latham and Seijts suggest, “Individuals with high self-efficacy engage in goal-directed behavior such as developing a plan or strategy, information search and testing potential relationships among variables more so than those with low self-efficacy.” Moreover, they continue: “Individuals with high self-efficacy reported more commitment to the learning goal than those with low self-efficacy.”
Again, when self-efficacy and confidence increase, you become more engaged in goal setting and attainment. The more you do this, the more open you become to possibility. It’s a virtuous growth cycle, especially if you can say yes to these four goal-setting questions.
If you start with a learning goal that builds or acquires something, then you will better understand how to effectively behave and perform at a higher level and increase the likelihood of achieving your future state. Continue the process and your confidence and engagement in goal attainment will increase, which puts you in a virtuous growth cycle. The more you overcome adversity, the easier it becomes to move beyond barriers or other challenges.
Here’s the big takeaway: the more you overcome adversity with higher self-confidence, the more you build positive resources. The more you build positive resources, the more you draw upon them to proactively cope with a situation, which enables you to control emotions while making decisions. You make better decisions and overcome adversity with greater ease. This is how you can use these three goals types—learning, behavior, and performance—to grow, personally and professionally.
Mindset can be defined as, “as mental attitude or inclination” or “fixed state of mind.” It determines how you think about things, make decisions, view the world, and choose to exist. If you view things with abundance, then your experience is full of positivity, generosity, mindfulness, thinking of others, and taking advantage of opportunities. The opposite is true for scarcity, where it’s all about negativity, lacking something, or being myopic. It’s also the difference between being open and closed or growing and declining, both of which apply to every business and its people.
A Scarcity Mindset Drains Resources and Decreases Confidence
Business owners have lots of pressure to support others, including customers, staff, and vendors. Sometimes simply paying the bills is a challenge, let alone yourself, as the owner. Constantly reacting to unplanned situations, putting out fires, and living in the tyranny of the urgent is draining—physically, intellectually, emotionally, and even spiritually. There are improvements that could be made. Always. But, fear, anxiety, and drudgery often creep in when thinking about tackling something new. When this type of thought process creeps in, it can be difficult to remove. Suddenly, it feels overwhelming to find a path forward and, before you know it, succumbing to adversity is the norm.
Then, when this loop occurs, business owners and leaders get caught in a vicious growth cycle that drains resources, like energy, time, and money, and decreases confidence, especially when you need it most.
Sound familiar? If so, then you’ve been introduced to the scarcity mindset. It’s unwieldy and brutal. A scarcity mindset closes you down to the point of being completely myopic and in survival mode. Tunnel vision sets in and potential is compromised. Unfortunately, this negative mindset is full of challenges that decrease the likelihood of success. In short, it’s usually the beginning of the end. And it’s a trap that only gets worse as clarity, motivation, and structure lessen. But there’s another way to lead and operate your firm.
An Abundance Mindset Makes Business Ownership Worthwhile and Increases Confidence
Do you aspire to do what you want, to have manageable and actionable paths that help to overcome adversity, and to achieve goals by being a better version of yourself?
If so, then please meet the abundance mindset. As the name suggests, it’s all about being open to possibility and being grateful for what you have, as well as embracing a future state. Here are three ways an abundance mindset can grow your business.
Navi Radjou’s concept of frugal innovation shows what happens when people do more with less. This phenomenon occurs when economic, environmental, and social values increase while resources, like time, capital, and energy decrease. Being in an abundance mindset means acting with others in mind through wisdom (i.e., clarity), unity (i.e., clarity), ingenuity (i.e., structure), and (com)passion (i.e., motivation). Having a scarcity mindset is the complete opposite: being self-centered, fearful, and desirous while seeking power. Frugal innovations occur with an abundance mindset because you become more purposeful when values increase and resources decrease.
Open Yourself to Possibility by Enjoying Ownership and Leadership
The more clarity you have, the more you can do what you want. In turn, the more structure you have, the easier it is to overcome adversity. And when that happens, you have more motivation to improve and become a better version of yourself. Lastly, and most importantly, owning a business becomes worthwhile because of the virtuous growth cycle you’ve created and perpetuated. This simply means you can do more of what you want, overcome adversity with greater ease, and continue to become a better version of yourself.
An abundance mindset opens you to possibility. The world opens up and you can make connections sooner and stronger. You gain more clarity, structure, and motivation. In turn, this creates a virtuous growth cycle that increases your confidence and makes the whole experience more worthwhile. To this end, you have a higher likelihood of success.
Would you rather have an abundance or a scarcity mindset? You choose. If you want to work towards a future state, then STRE.ME’s Strategic Boost Template will walk you through the process of identifying an objective, key results, and more.