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Goals and What You Can Learn from Rob Konrad

January 13, 2015
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My inbox has numerous webinar advertisements, video’s, email invitations and “How to…” exposes this morning on the topic of goals. It’s a new year, perhaps you have something similar. But the best thing in this morning is the recounting of Rob Konrad’s 27 mile swim in the ocean yesterday. There’s something really fundamental in that experience that can reshape how you look at goals for the rest of your life. Let’s review and I’ll explain what I mean.

In case you didn’t catch “Good Morning America” or the morning’s paper, Rob Konrad, former Miami Dolphins’ fullback, got flipped off his boat 9 miles off shore yesterday and swam for 16 hours, covering 27 miles before he reached shore.

Here’s the question, “How did he accomplish such an unlikely goal?”

Experts interviewed, stated that one would have to train months before accomplishing such a feat – something which Rob hadn’t done. How did he accomplish something despite all the odds and the setbacks (the coast guard flew directly over him, a fishing boat passed 50 yards away)? Since most of us don’t feel goals work out that great for us, how did Rob pull off such a dramatic goal?

His answer was “I have 2 beautiful daughters… I was hitting that shore.”

This exactly correlates with a study on goals by Leadership IQ entitled “Are Smart Goals Dumb?” which found in their words that the highest predictor for being able to achieve a goal was captured by the statement, “I can vividly picture how great it will feel when I achieve my goals.”

Rob Konrad could vividly feel how good it would be to be with daughters. He was unable to talk after he repeated that statement on TV. Makes you wonder, other than being in a similar “do or die” challenge, what would cause you to be that engaged, to vividly feel that intense about the positive outcomes you envisioned when you accomplish a goal?

Let me ask you two questions while you’re reading this. They will help you with the goals, whether personal or work related.

1. What’s your internal conversation like when you set a goal? Are you optimistic? Do you feel engaged? Are you excited? Or perhaps it’s a “ho-hum” conversation, or a reminder to yourself that you’re not likely to succeed, or maybe its a discourse into how you never get a break. You see I think the topic of goals brings up two really fundamental issues.

    1. The first is the ability to dream or envision something really good for ourselves, versus going through the motions. Can you think of something to shoot for that would make you feel really good? If not, would you pencil a note to yourself to find that. To develop, to visualize that outcome and get it on the schedule for this year. Plan on something really good for you, good for others this year. You’ll enjoy life more when you do.
    2. Here’s the second thing, and that’s the conversation in your head. How many times do you think that Konrad repeated the conversation his head about doing this for his daughters during that 16 hour swim full of adversity and disappointingly “almost” rescues? 20 times, 50, times, 100 times… how many? Who knows, but he was still talking about it in front of the cameras the next day. So the question is “What’s the conversation like that goes on in your head, when you set goals?”  And perhaps more revealing, when the 9 mile swim turns into 27 miles because of the current pushing you off-course, what’s the conversation then?

      If the conversation in your head isn’t positive, if it doesn’t have that compelling “I’m going to hit that shore” feeling to it, would you be willing to change it? In fact starting today, would you be willing to interrupt any negative conversation about goals in your head and replace them with a positive, recommitment, pump yourself up conversation? In effect that would be a commitment to be there for yourself in a very powerful way in the face of what-ever disruptions or disappointments you run into. That brings me to the second question I would like to ask.

 

2. The second question is, “How do you remind yourself, so that you stay on course?” One of the things about Konrad’s experience is that he was continually in an unsafe situation for 16 hours, that reminds our central nervous system quite well that we’re in a challenge and need to do something if we are going to reach our goal. I think this is important, because reminders serve a really important cueing function for us. You see, I don’t think we achieve difficult goals without reminders of what we are shooting for along the way. Hopefully we don’t all need as harsh reminders as Rob was experiencing. In fact I think if you simply floated your goal to the top of your calendar each day and encouraged yourself to do something about it, you would be amazed at the effect this type of “gentle reminder” can have in your life.

Before I wrap up, there’s some great phone apps to help you with the reminder and habit forming process. They vary everywhere from taking money out of your pocket, to more gentle reminders. Check out this Fast Company article for a list and description of 24 apps you might want to consider.

Bottom Line:
Rob Konrad’s incredible 27 mile survival swim surfaced how important goals are. For him, it was the prospect of seeing his two daughters. We all need to be vividly engaged with goals we establish, it’s a critical emotional component that turns an aspiration into a powerful goal. We also need to monitor and shape our internal conversation about our goals, so we don’t talk ourselves out of it. And finally we need regular cues to help us stay on track. Rob’s story helps bring all three components of successfully reaching your goal to live in a great story.


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