"I'm buying my desk by December 1st," he declares in the middle of September as he gets off the school bus one day. It's an unusual goal, to say the least. It raises our eyebrows more than a little and causes a most interesting conversation around our dinner table that night.
Goals are intriguing...captivating. They tell us a lot about a person, don't you think? After this blog, you'll understand my son a little better, just by this one goal. You'll have a sense of how he ticks...what motivates him in life...
The T, in MOAT is for "Tell Everyone," and it's about leveraging the power of communication to foster both an internal and an external commitment to our goals. Speaking your goals is part of building a MOAT because it helps you create internal clarity, internal commitment, and external commitment.
1) Create Internal Clarity
When we are forced to articulate or goals, we are forced to clarify our goals. If we can't say them to someone else in one, 12-word sentence, we probably haven't got it straight in our minds.
And if we haven't got it straight, we can't commit.
The first reason for articulating our goals aloud, is to force clarity for ourselves. Sometimes I'll ask Managers to articulate their most important goals in a series of breakouts, one after another, having their partner probe and push for them to be even more concise. Even more clear. After a few rounds of saying them out loud, their goals inevitably go from foggy to focused. It's incredibly powerful. Try it with your team if you're going through the goal-setting process.
2) Create Internal Commitment
The other thing that happens as managers repeat their goals, is they start to own them. They actually say them differently between the first time and the last time. Their goal starts to roll of their tongue. They start to smile when they say it. They speak with determination and confidence, instead of with caution and uncertainty. They start to own their goals.
I think repeating our goals is a lot like putting our new clothes through the wash. At first we're just trying them on. Only once they've been through the rinse a few times can we decide whether we really like them...whether they will stand the test of time.
This internal commitment has with it, a sense of accountability. Once we've said it out loud...even if no-one else heard it...it becomes real. We don't worry much about being people who do what we thought we were going to do. But we ALL want to be the kind of people who do what we SAY we are going to do.
3) Create External Commitment
Can you remember the last time someone else told you about their goals? Do you remember their goal? Do you remember what you thought about, after they told you?
"I'm buying my desk by December 1st!" My son comes home from school and declares this in the middle of September. It sounds strange, I know...so I'll explain a little. Nathan's grade 6 teacher has created a classroom economy with a fake currency. All the students pay rent for their desks, out of their salaries each month. Once they save enough money, they can buy their own desk and stop paying rent. Once they've bought their own, they can buy someone else's and start collecting rent. My son has done the math on this...and is currently gunning for his best friends desk...
But I digress.
When my son declared he will buy his desk by December 1st, what thought immediately crossed my mind? What thought immediately crossed yours, the last time someone shared their goal with you?
"How" went through my mind. First, a smile of interest, followed immediately by a desire to join in the fun. Most us want to help. Most of us are intrigued, maybe even captivated, when someone tells us about what they're after in life. I mean...weren't you were intrigued by Nathan's goal, even though you don't even know him? Most of us are not used to hearing about other people's hopes and dreams...because creating clear and concise goals is actually a rare phenomenon.
You consistent goal-setters? You are a rare breed.
When you Tell Everyone about your most important commitments, you intrigue them. And very often, they will want to help you get there. These people who want to see you make progress? They will help you with your MOAT. They help you protect your time. They will often hold you accountable just by virtue of their kind curiousity. They will become your ally. And we all need allies on the way to our big dream-fulfilling goals. Heck. Most of us need allies just to make it to the mailbox regularly.
Do yourself a favour, and talk about your goals. Not only will you help yourself get there, you'll also inspire a few of us along the way.
Wrapping it all up...
Your goals are precious, wouldn't you agree? Protecting them, figuring out how to stick to them until you get there, is worth some time and attention.
Perhaps...just maybe...my goals are the most precious treasure I own when it comes to ensuring I live a life worth living.
Clarity around where I'm going (and why) can lifts us up on the tough days, and enable celebration on the great days. Learning how to defend our goals is perhaps one of the greatest skills you can add to your toolkit.
So let's get digging. Another new year will soon be upon us, and that MOAT...it is not going to dig itself!