Just Because You Want It, Doesn’t Mean You’ll Have It
We wouldn’t be human if everything we planned worked out exactly the way we’d planned it would all the time. We are master planners at best, and are handicapped when it comes to seeing our plans through. I have found that sometimes even with the best intentions (and hard work) some of these plans just do not materialize and it can be very frustrating at the best of times. I know because I have had some plans that I’d actively pursued and they have not seen the light of day.
I struck a conversation the other day with a colleague on how we have conditioned our minds that just because you are working hard towards a goal that you desperately want to achieve, it will all work out to your favor. And yet we know that sometimes even the best of intentions are met with a brick-wall. Why the colleague was asking me in particular this very topic was because she knows I’m an advocate for self-leadership (and breaking barriers to go after your dreams). Yes I live by the philosophy that says you are the beginning to anything that happens in your life- unless you set in motion; you cannot expect it to happen. And yes, the doing of certain components is dependent on you. The other part that my colleague seemed to miss with my rhetoric is the importance of others in this picture.
To illustrate my point I’ll use one f my recent clients who wanted to improve his communication skills to impact his leadership ability as he believes he is ready for a promotion. He has been working on this skill for the past year and a half and he thinks he is not where he wants to be. When I asked him what working on it meant, he told me he has been giving talks at work to different audiences to excellent feedback all the time. It turns out he loves public speaking and he sees himself as a professional speaker one day…
His end goal is to be a professional speaker who speaks on business strategy as it pertains to the African continent. He has been working around the clock to get his speaking to professional levels and yet he is using his short-term goal of a promotion to measure his success. How many times have you judged your progress against the short-term goal as opposed to the big picture? I know I have done it too many times to recall. My clients’ immediate plan is to be promoted and because that has not happened in the past year and a half albeit his efforts to improve his leadership capabilities. His technical expertise are not in doubt and his track record speaks for itself and yet he is just not getting there and he is frustrated, very frustrated at the lack of progress. And I sympathise because I know what its like to feel like you are ‘ready’ and nothing comes your way.
How did we tackle this you may be wondering? Well we explored a number of reasons why sometimes things do not go our way irrespective of our best of intentions:
The role others play in your vision actualization
We place a significant amount of what we achieve on ourselves without factoring in the role others play. In my clients’ case, he downplayed the role played by his boss, his boss’s boss, and the strategy the company is taking, etc. All of these play a significant role in ensuring that my client gets a promotion or not. Because he was amongst the top performers at his company, he thought that a promotion was almost a given all he had to do was improve this one area.
There is a lot more to achieving this goal than you anticipated
We found that my client missed the opportunity to build relationships outside of his office with the company’s head quarters. He missed an opportunity to work cross-departmentally (and not limiting his contact to just talks) to improve his visibility company-wide. We also considered that there may be other areas that he did not focus on that the company had prioritised as critical skills for moving to the next level.
The big goal and the short-term goal may be in contradiction
When you have a big picture goal of where you see yourself, it is important to ensure that the smaller goals are aligned to that overall goal. When this is not the case, you run the risk of chasing two different priorities that do not ultimately add to your vision. In my clients’ case, he wanted the security of a job (and the big paycheck) that would come with a promotion and yet his goal is to leave the corporate sector and be a professional speaker on developing business strategy for companies with an interest in Africa.
It’s just not the right time or place for it
This is the one reason some think is ‘defeated persons mentality’ because as we always say, a lot depends on your effort. Sometimes it is just not meant to be… and how do you know this? When you keep knocking, and knocking and knocking and nothing moves except your self-esteem. When it diminishes your self-worth to levels you are not familiar with- it probably means you should focus your attention on activities that will move you a step closer to your goal.
When you understand that just because you are working hard towards something, it does not necessarily mean it will be attained. What is certain though irrespective of the win or not, is the learning along the way. You learn about yourself and what you can do when things don’t go your way. When it’s not going your way, ask yourself honestly what the obstacle could be and be even more honest about what you can do to shift that.