Goal achievement

In the world of coaching and personal development the practice of goal setting is very much an accepted success driver and to be honest most achievers in the world didn’t just happen to hit something by total accident but rather by decision, intent and most importantly action.

The technique of goal setting and how you do it for it to stick, is really in my view totally up to you as an individual. We all make decisions that drive actions, so reflect on how this has happened before for you and follow this approach consistently from here forward. It sounds very simple and that is exactly how it should be, I personally believe personal development experts have been making it complex for no particular reason other than their own profitability.

I have been setting goals since I read a book on the topic around 1987 and because it made sense to me, I decided every year at New Years I would make a little list of things I want to achieve in the coming year and then I would leave it aside. Amazingly even without looking at that list on a regular basis, it was enough to set the intention and follow through with action as the years went by. Based on what people keep telling me is that I have probably achieved more than most, why? Well simply in my honest opinion because I set intentions and then went off to make them happen.

One thing is that sometimes I need to reset the goal for another year because it took longer to achieve than anticipated. Time optimism takes a hold of me form time to time ;-). Then again having been in the habit of long term studies for a degree and subsequently an MBA, the long range goals also worked once I could break them down into bite-size action steps.

How do you know whether you are really committed to a goal, my answer is always it is in the action you have taken towards achieving it. For me unless I have taken action towards something, I know for sure it isn’t a full commitment. What I do at that point then is to look what is stopping me from doing anything about it and addressing that or the other side question whether what I am after is maybe not that goal, but something else. So I give myself some time to reflect and ponder all possibilities and ultimately a new action will come out.

Personally I don’t get too hung up on how detailed your goal description is, to me it helps if it is visual and actually writing it out on paper for me is already a visual, my mind is creative enough to then put pictures to it, but some people work best with vision boards with pictures attached. The more alive the goal is the better, then again if you take action that is live in my opinion.

You need to allow yourself a bit of time to reflect on what is important to you and pick what resonates most and what you are willing to step out and go for right now. The more I engaged in self development, the more goal muddled I became and the practice that I had and was working needed to be changed because of theory and goal setting all of a sudden became a very frustrating model of having to fit in a certain way. What i have realised however is that how you set your goal ideas, intentions etc is irrelevant, it is the action of goal achievement that proves your commitment to any of them.

So these days I am actually back to enjoying creating the list in my little goal book and I review them around now and again sometime in June or if there are massive changes on the cards when it seems appropriate. What I mean there is that life sometimes happens and you need to adapt, and what was a well constructed goal or intention may no longer be relevant. Sometimes you need to admit that your time frames may have been optimistic and that is perfectly normal, it’s the ebb and flow of life as we live it.

So have fun with your goals and more importantly enjoy the action packed journey of achieving them.
Happy goal achieving 2013!

The future of learning is social

In the learning and development industry only few organisations stand out and take the leap into the modern age with social learning, which always baffles me, because some of the organisations are also the greats of modern commerce. When it comes to training, most companies still sees this as a largely a classroom environment, if they are a little more advanced then also e-learning of some kind or coaching has entered the realms, but very few have embraced social learning.

With current technology it is possible to share best practice easily to everyone in the organisation or even to showcase a great project outcome to a wider audience. I have used webinars to assist in sharing this kind of knowledge which allows for live questions and polls throughout or at the end of a session, because if the information shared was of good quality then it is bound to trigger ‘how to’, ‘what if’ and ‘why’ types of questions. Because the sessions are maximum 90 minutes long, ideally 45 mins to 1 hour and they can be attended from a desk anywhere with the added bonus of potential recording for further use or upload in your e-learning platform.

I spoke with an e-learning provider recently who explained how you could actually extend the use of an e-learning platform further by linking it in to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so that if you completed a particular module or you wanted to recommend a read or module to everyone you could simply do this through social media. It is already happening informally, so why not encourage it further. I will often follow thought leaders on social media networks and when they recommend a book or a course that grabs my attention then I will have a further look into this. This can easily be extended within the organisation where managers share their favourite nuggets of information as they go, other staff will pay attention and possibly check out exactly the same book, course or module. Most leaders tend to be readers, so why not share it. I do it all the time on LinkedIn with articles I find relevant and interesting and I tend to add a few words of my thoughts to it, which then broadcasts this across my social media networks and I know people follow these posts regularly.

Now taking social learning another step further, you can have interest groups from within the organisation on Facebook or LinkedIn and all that have taken the programme can share their questions, progress, failures and gain encouragement and insights from others. Obviously this brings up the need to connect your social profile or your company email with a new profile, which is not always every employee’s cup of tea, but I have definitely seen quite a bit of creativity on this topic. It will require an element of management and community moderation and you may choose to do this on an in-house platform where company email gives access and the social platform the facilitator. However the social dynamic is key. If you have ever gone to a course or read a book based on a recommendation from a friend or colleague, then effectively you have engaged in social learning, which unfortunately isn’t yet the norm within organisations.

Keeping it short and interesting is key and keeping your message within Twitter length in writing and 10-15 minutes Youtube for video is a good way to use social standards within the learning environment. Sharing TED talks or having your own internal TED event are great ways of contributing to social learning as well as best practice sharing. The thing with TED talks is that you have to apply for your topic to be accepted and then agree to allow your message to be spread through their membership network. Whilst this is becoming standard practice through social networks, very few internal organisations seem to be getting in on this.

I often wondered why, because as a learning and development professional I never saw why holding back information that could potentially educate and groom your successors is useful. I always worked best with managers and organisations where sharing information is encouraged on a large scale. I understand that managers are busy people, yet they still read and develop themselves, so would a 140 letter tweet be too much to ask about something they were already doing anyway?

Personally I believe learning for adults is actually best when it is discussion based and relevant to their current situation and socially we do it all the time. Whilst for the corporate world this may be considered new and may require some infrastructure behind it although all the infrastructure already exists externally and often free of charge, so let’s not create this as an excuse. In fact way back in the days before technology storytelling is how traditions, values and ways of doing things were communicated in tribes and the next generation somehow picked it up and added more to it and as far as my knowledge goes from studying Latin texts in school this was considered quite an honour too.

So let’s reinvent the future of learning and tell stories the social way to stimulate peers, successors and generations to come.