A few years ago, a friend told about hearing Billy Graham tell the following story as the keynote speaker honoring the delegates to the United Nations in New York:
“Being here in New York reminds me of a story about Albert Einstein. Some years ago the great thinker was on a train bound for New York City.
As the ticket taker came walking through the car, Einstein reached into his pocket to retrieve his ticket, but he could not find it. He frantically searched his coat pockets, turned his pants pockets inside out, but still he could not produce the ticket.
The ticket taker said, ‘don’t worry, Mr. Einstein, we all know who you are. Forget about it.’ About twenty minutes later, the ticket taker came back through the car, and by this time Einstein was on the floor searching everywhere for the lost ticket.
Again ticket taker tried to reassure Einstein by saying, ‘I told you not to worry about the lost ticket. We trust that you purchased one, and that’s good enough for us.’
Einstein looked up at the railroad employee and said, ‘Young man, this isn’t a matter of trust but of direction. I need to find the ticket because I forgot where I’m going.’”
Are you headed toward your destination?
“Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal, and I will give you a stock clerk.” – J.C. Penney
Successful people know where they are going. And they have a plan for getting there.
How about you?
Do you know where you are going?
My good friend and mentor, Jim Lundy, would often say:
If you don’t know where you are going
…any path will get you there,
…but you won’t realize if you’re lost,
…you won’t know what time you’ll arrive,
…you won’t know the dimensions of your challenge,
…others won’t understand how they could help,
…and since you could pass right by without recognizing it,
…you won’t get the satisfaction of having arrived!
I learned in my early working years that it was important for me, as the leader, to pause, reflect, and plan so I knew where I was going.
But I also learned that it was even more important to get every employee involved in the planning and decision-making process so we would go down the right road.
Every leader can know where they are going by avoiding ambiguous goals.
Imagine that you are at a family reunion picnic, and you decide to try your hand at a game of archery.
You select your bow and receive as many arrows as you wish. And when you step up to the line, you noticed there is no target in sight.
Then someone who is overseeing the game says, “Okay, select an arrow, draw your bow and shoot!”
What do you do next? Do you just stand there waiting for further instructions?
With no defined target, I bet you would hesitate to draw your bow.
But, let’s say you shoot one arrow just to see what would happen.
If you shoot, you would learn what it feels like when you do not know where the target is.
Without the feedback of seeing how close you came to the target, you could not adjust your aim in order to hit closer to the bull’s eye. There is no bull’s eye!
You would have no way of knowing if you even came close to hitting the target.
In other words, you could not gauge your level of success.
Insight: Ambiguous goals in the workplace and inadequate feedback lead to confusion and frustration.
Achievement and recognition are two of the best motivators. And leaders should provide their people with a chance to seek and achieve fulfillment in their work.
But first, the goal(s) of where you are going must be clearly defined, understood, and accepted as reasonable to be fully beneficial.
Employees need goals so they can correct their actions when targets are missed, and so they can feel the deserved satisfaction when targets are hit.
Where does your ticket say you are going to? Do you have goals in your life and in your workplace? Please send to me your comments <here> and share this blog post with a friend and co-worker.