Success Key: S.M.A.R.T. Goal Achievement Method – Part 3
Thomas Edison tested more than 6,000 materials in his quest to find a workable filament for an incandescent light bulb before “succeeding” with one that worked! After Edison had “failed” more than 1,000 times, when he was asked about it, he purportedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” Whether or not Edison actually made this statement is irrelevant. What is relevant is the point that failure occurs not with unsuccessful attempts no matter how many; failure occurs when one abandons the cause and quits.
Success Key: S.M.A.R.T. Goal Achievement Method – Part 3: MEASURABILITY (continued)
In our last post, we examined the “M” element – MEASURABILITY – of the SMART Goal Achievement Method. Today, we are going to continue the discussion of Measurability, as this step in the process is highly critical in being able to take responsive and decisive Action towards achieving the desired Goal.
As a quick refresher, Measurability means:
Being capable of measuring your progress as you work towards your Goal (i.e., your Goal must be Specific enough – the “S” – so that at any point in time anyone may objectively determine whether or not the Goal has been achieved),
Implementing a system capable of periodically measuring your progress towards your Goal,
Effectively using your system of measuring your progress towards your Goal, thereby collecting valuable information as to your progress and, if you are not progressing towards the Goal, WHY NOT, and
In response to the information collected through your progress measuring system, taking appropriate remedial or corrective ACTION (or, as Anthony Robbins would say, “MASSIVE ACTION”) that will bring you closer to achieving your Goal, with the ACTION comprising both speed/efficiency and/or direction towards the Goal.
In other words, by implementing and using an effective progress measurement system, you obtain the necessary and crucial FEEDBACK that advises you as to whether you or on course to reaching your goal, and if not, why not.
Monitoring and evaluating progress feedback is absolutely necessary if you are to reach your Goal, no matter how simple or how sophisticated (or grand) your Goal may be. Whether your realize it or not, you likely engage in such a process – called “cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz all of the time in common daily life. It is one of the processes that separates human life from lower animal life, as it involves the use of our higher intellectual faculties; yet, it often works on a subconscious level. (This is a subject for a whole separate post, perhaps several posts!)
Let’s look at a few examples of a Progress Monitoring System in action.
Consider a commercial airline flying non-stop from New York to San Francisco (an example used extensively by Anthony Robbins, so I cannot take credit). I don’t know the precise figures, but for about 99% of the flight, the aircraft is technically, but actually, “off course.” Flying around thunderstorms, avoiding turbulence, being buffeted by a strong head jet stream, heavy air traffic, etc. all influence the flight path. Even with no obstacles, such as storms, traffic, etc., the craft constantly veers off course. As a result, the craft’s onboard computers are continuously monitoring its path and redirecting it back in the proper direction. This process continues throughout the entire flight; in fact, the only time that we know for sure that the craft is precisely on target is when its landing gear make contact with the landing strip.
Also consider a water craft, such as a 21-foot boat, in a 3 foot chop heading towards a landmark tower 3 miles distance. If you have piloted a boat in such conditions, you know exactly to what I am referring. The medium in which the craft travels is water: fluid and highly dynamic. Moreover, there are the strong influences of wind, wave, current and tidal forces. It is nearly impossible to keep the boat pointed directly at the landmark; the landmark is an ever moving target. In response to your internal progress measurement system, one must take the appropriate remedial action by turning the wheel – in almost constant fashion – back and forth to keep the boat moving in an overall proper general direction.
These are simple examples, but they do make the point.
Let’s look at an example that is perhaps a little more meaningful: Thomas Edison’s quest to find a workable filament for his incandescent light bulb idea. Edison tested more than 6,000 materials for his filament before “succeeding” with one that worked! Which raises THREE significant points:
First, how many people would have “quit” after 100 attempts? Or, perhaps 500 attempts? Or, 1,000? 2,000? How many would have continued testing materials until they reached their Goal of a working filament capable of lasting over time and providing maximum luminosity? I would guess that out of the entire world at that time, there was only one and his name was Thomas Alva Edison.
Second, do you think Edison would have stopped at 6,500 if he had not found the right filament? Or, that he would have stopped at 7,000 test materials? 10,000? We know the answer: he would have NEVER stopped until he reached his Goal! He was 100% committed and abandoned all avenues of escape! He HAD to Succeed – and, he KNEW he would!
Third, consider the nature and extent of Edison’s Goal Progress Measurement System. Now, I haven’t read his lab notebooks, but I have a pretty good feeling that this genius was highly methodical in his approach to attaining Success and inventing the world’s first workable incandescent light bulb. I think everyone would agree that he didn’t engage in this process in a willy-nilly fashion by haphazardly testing materials without regard to results from past tests. Edison MUST have utilized a sound progress system to zero in what would eventually prove to be the right material for his filament. Had he not measured his progress and analyzed his results is to suggest that Edison employed some random lottery system. Had that been his system, it is doubtful as to whether Edison ever would have attained Success in his quest to invent the light bulb.
As an aside, the following quote is attributable to Edison with regard to his quest to invent the world’s first working incandescent light bulb. The story goes that after Edison had “failed” more than 1,000 times in attempting to find a working filament for his light bulb idea, when he was asked about it, he purportedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” [For more on Edison and his amazing quest to invent the light bulb, Click Here for the Franklin Institute].
Whether or not Edison actually made this statement is irrelevant. What is relevant is the point that failure occurs not with unsuccessful attempts no matter how many; failure occurs when one abandons the cause and quits. That is true definition of “failure.”
What can be gained from this discussion on Measurability is this: The ability to measure your progress towards a Goal is what leads to Success. If you cannot – or do not – monitor, measure and evaluate your progress AND take corrective, remedial ACTION as required, you will not Succeed and achieve your Goal. Measurability is that important.
One final, important note worth mentioning. There is a difference between proper Goal progress measurement and obsessive pulse-taking that provides so much information as to render it meaningless. This can be a TRAP, as the means become the ends – the monitoring becomes your Action.
Consider that you have just been diagnosed with high blood pressure and it is your doctor’s professional opinion that medication is not warranted, and thus, she places you on a strict regimen of diet and exercise. You vow to start that very day on your quest to lower your blood pressure (good). But, you also implement a Goal Progress Measurement System of monitoring your blood pressure by taking it every ½ hour (not good).
While monitoring your BP is absolutely necessary for many reasons – including as your Goal Progress Measurement System – the sheer volume of data accumulated by taking your BP every ½ hour will render that information meaningless. You need to implement your doctor’s orders and see what happens over time in order to properly evaluate the effectiveness of the plan. Perhaps it will work, perhaps more is required. But, time is required to properly evaluate the plan’s effectiveness. Indeed, such obsessive monitoring may actually work against you!
The importance of the Measurability factor in Goal Achievement cannot be overstated. While all of the SMART elements are important and interdependent on each other, Measurability is that element that provides the critical information to make the right decisions as you work towards your Goal. Without it, you would simply proceed on an inflexible, rigid path – and if that path leads in the wrong direction, you will never reach the Goal. If you’re like the aircraft or the boat discussed in the examples, you will be off-course 99% of the time, so the ability to make decisions to correct your path is 100% mission critical to Success.
In our next part of this series, we will examine the “A” – ACHEIVABLE.
Until next time, Peace my Friend, and - Namaste!
To your Health, Wealth, Prosperity and Success,
The Success Manual Team
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