Seven Steps to Creating Your Goalprint

People who buy shovels don’t want shovels…

There’s a classic quote in business:

People who buy shovels don’t want shovels.  They want to make holes, or fill in holes as quickly and easily as possible.

Chances are pretty good that you’re selling shovels to someone.  Or, maybe you dig the holes?

Either way, the planning, the shovel, the digging, and the hole itself are all merely steps along the way to achieving someone’s goals.

Your goals?  Maybe…that all depends on whether you know what your goals are.

The funny thing about goals is that no one has the same goals.  They may share some, or agree on goals to pursue together.  But, no two people have the exact same goals.

Each of us has a goalprint as unique as our fingerprint.  It captures our passions, our dreams, and the specific goals we’ve laid out for our lives.  Partially-developed goalprints live in our subconscious mind, until we take the time to bring them into our conscious mind and fully define them.

Consciously defining our unique goalprint isn’t easy.  Nothing worthwhile ever is.

Here are the seven steps for creating and living your personal goalprint:

1.  Define five things you are most passionate about, and how you plan to center your life around these passions over the next five years.  Not willing to focus your life on this list of passions?  Maybe these aren’t really your passions.

2.  Define at least seven things you plan to experience over the next ten years.  A quasi-bucket list, only with a ten-year horizon.  Notice this isn’t a list of seven things you want to experience, rather a list of the seven things you plan to experience.  How many of these involve the things you are most passionate about?

3.  Money isn’t everything, but it does make the world go around.  With this in mind, write down how much money or assets you plan to have set aside for big ticket expenditures (i.e., home purchases, kids’ college, retirement, something you were passionate about in item 1, etc.) in one year, five years, ten years, and twenty years.  What income do you need to hit these targets?  Start saving now, if you haven’t already.

4.  Define what you plan to be in one year, five years, ten years, and twenty years.  This can be personal, professional, or anything else you define as what you plan to be.  Keep working until your “what” supports what you’ve listed in the first three steps.

5.  If you’re blessed with a spouse, or a soon-to-be-spouse, compare and discuss your answers in the first four steps above.  What do you have in common?  Are your goalprints compatible?  How will you each accommodate and support your spouse’s goalprint in the coming years?

6.  Hold yourself accountable for fulfilling what you’ve laid out in your goalprint as you make decisions in your life.  Enjoy defining success on your own terms.

7.  Repeat this exercise once a year.

Unlike fingerprints, our goalprint will change and grow over time.  That is, if we have the courage to let it.


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Your Talent Won’t Be Enough

Enough for what?

There are very few truly one-man (or one-woman) shops.  Show me a successful sole proprietor, and I’ll show you someone who leads, and relies upon, a team of talented individuals…whether they realize it or not.

How can this be?  Doesn’t the definition of sole proprietor mean that one person is the sole talent?  Well, sort of, but not quite.

Imagine that you’re an awesome flower arranger.  Your bouquets are exquisite.  Their beauty is unmatched.  You decide to take a risk and open your own flower shop.  Your confidence is high.  After all, your flower arrangements are incredible.  Customers will come from miles around to buy your arrangements.

A few weeks into the process of opening your new shop, you discover that flower shops don’t run on flower arrangements alone.  There are building leases to negotiate, furniture and fixtures to procure, point-of-sale systems to deploy, website interfaces to create (if you’d like to receive orders from some of the national flower delivery services), suppliers to line up, insurance coverage to purchase, merchant account services (if you plan to take credit cards), and payroll systems (for the one or two part-time employees you’ll be hiring, just for starters).

You’ll need to connect your talent with the talents of a wide array of other people, just to open your shop.

It’s the same thing in a larger company.  Your ability to build trusting relationships across your company, and across your industry, will have more to do with your long-term success than individual talent.  Creating a reservoir of trust with talented people, and relying on them, just as you’d rely on yourself, is critical to your success…and theirs.

Your talent, alone, won’t be enough.  Enough for what?  Enough to accomplish whatever your definition of success is.


Last week, I had an employee come in and tell me how something is unacceptable.  The details of the thing that was unacceptable aren’t important.  As I sat there, considering how to best respond to this “unacceptable” situation, I wondered if the employee knew what she had done by using that word to start the discussion.

Merely stating that something is unacceptable, without offering up potential solutions, isn’t helpful.  The recipient of the news (in this case, the manager) is placed in a position of having to extract additional information, and then determine if there are any acceptable alternatives.  Of course, since one situation has already been deemed unacceptable, it’s quite possible that one or more of the alternatives may be similarly unacceptable.

It goes even deeper than that.  By starting the conversation in a deep hole of unacceptability, the potential for finding an alternative that is not just acceptable, but ideal, is very low.  In other words, finding an ideal solution is probably not going to be the goal.  Rather, it will be to find something that is at best “not unacceptable.”

There’s a mindset at play in the person who chooses to use words like “unacceptable” on a regular basis.  That mindset is focused on off-loading responsibility for finding solutions to someone else.  It is focused on creating short-term impact at the expense of a longer-term environment for success and collaboration.

It’s true that some things in life are unacceptable to us.  When these situations arise, we have an opportunity to express this from the perspective of trying to find a more ideal solution.  If your manager or co-worker holds the keys to an “unacceptable” situation, describe it with words like “challenging,” “difficult,” or possibly use the situation as a pivot point to what you see as more ideal alternatives.  Bring an understanding of the pro’s and con’s of your alternatives to the discussion.

Building collaboration is much easier when we seek ideal solutions together, rather than merely working independently to avoid the unacceptable.

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