Years ago, as a fledgling entrepreneur, I was having lunch with a man I respected as a mentor in my life. Bert had grown up in Newfoundland and in his words “had ventured out to Western Canada in the late 1960’s to work in the oil patch with nothing more than the shirt on his back and $20 in his pocket.” You only had to have one coffee with Bert to recognize that he was a man blessed with an entrepreneurial mindset and the drive and energy to get him to wherever it was that he wanted to get to. I am sure, as a young man working in the oil patch, a million business ideas must have popped in and out of his head as he watched, learned and worked in the oil industry.
During this particular lunch with Bert, he explained to me that as an oil patch laborer, the company he worked for had several projects going on simultaneously. As one project would end, Bert and the crew of men he worked with would be moved from one region to another, from one project to the next. The company Bert worked for would attempt to house Bert’s crew of workers in hotels close to the projects they were working. As he explained it, a lot of oil patch work occurs in remote areas so Bert’s company would locate a town that was as geographically close to the work sites as possible and then transport workers like Bert to and from the work site daily. Sometimes, location and weather depending, the daily commute to the work site would take several hours, which meant early mornings and late evenings for Bert and his crew of workmates. The cost of putting workers up in hotel rooms along with paying for their meals and incidentals was very expensive for the oil company. But in order to get the work done, this was the only option available to the company at the time.
According to Bert the time he had to think as he commuted to and from work allowed him to come up with the idea of designing and building commercial grade mobile trailer units which were sturdy enough to be transported into the oil patch and designed well enough to house and feed the companies workers on site. He thought about how much time, energy, and money the oil company could save. He thought about the lifestyle improvement the workers would enjoy not having to get up so early and arrive back to their hotels so late just to get a days work in. Keeping his idea to himself, Bert scrounged up enough money to allow him to work with a trailer manufacturing company, and together, they designed and built several prototype commercial grade mobile trailers.
During the mobile trailer development stage Bert busied himself planting the seed of a mobile trailer concept to his employer trying to convince the company to give his idea a try. Which in time they did. As it turned out Bert’s idea was a hit – it did save oil companies significant money and workers were happy that they didn’t have to spend so many hours commuting to and from work. Within a relatively short period of time, Bert’s company became a growing concern and his out of the box idea ended up making him a very wealthy man.
As I listened to Bert’s story I wondered what gave him the courage to take such bold steps in his life? And so I asked him… and in Bert like fashion he stopped eating for a moment and quietly pondered the question. After a minute or two he looked at me and said, “Let me tell you a story about the Atlantic crab.”
Over the next several minutes Bert explained that he was raised the son of a Fisherman. His mother was a stay at home mom and his father owned a small fishing boat that he and his three brothers helped work. At certain times of the year Bert’s father would catch crab and bring several home for Bert’s mom to cook for the family to eat. To cook the live crabs his mother would fill a large pot with water, place it on the stove and begin to bring the water to a boil. While the water was warming she would place the crabs that Bert’s father had brought home into the pot one by one. It was at this point that Bert shared some interesting details with me. On one particular occasion Bert was visiting with his mother in the kitchen when she asked him if he wanted to see something peculiar? His interest peaked! His mother proceeded to take one of the large crabs and placed it in the pot of warming water. According to Bert, within a few seconds, the crab realized the water in the pot was getting hotter and reached its big claws up to the top of the pot, clasped on to the edge, and pulled itself out of the soon to be boiling water. By doing so, the crab saved it’s life. Bert was amazed…
But his mother wasn’t finished just yet. She proceeded to pick up the same crab and put it back into the warming pot of water and this time, she added three or four more additional crabs into the pot. With the crabs all in the water together, each one of them attempted to pull themselves out of the now nearly boiling pot of water. But as each crab tried, the other crabs would latch on to them and pull them back into the water. This went on for several minutes. The hotter the water got the more frantic the crabs became, each one trying over and over again to get out of the ever warming water, only to be pulled back in by the others until finally the water boiled and of course each crab met its end.
Bert explained to me that this lesson was one of the most lasting lessons he’d ever had in his life. What he realized was that from very young ages, we as humans hold one another back. Few people want others to get out and do something different – to get ahead. In fact people are often like the crabs – we don’t want others to do get further ahead than we are.
When Bert had first started talking about his oil patch mobile trailer idea to other people, they laughed at him and told him he was a dreamer. Even his employer wasn’t convinced it was a good idea. But Bert’s entrepreneurial spirit, his desire to not be held back by others, his passion to move ahead was the main reason why he pursued the mobile trailer concept and because he did… he changed his life forever. He broke free from poverty and became a very successful entrepreneur who moved on to own many, many, successful companies that serviced the oil patch for many years before his untimely passing in 1989.
The crab story Bert shared with me all those years ago helped me change my thinking about myself and it really was the impetus for me to realize that I needed to break free from the expectations of those around me and pursue the goals and dreams I had for my life rather than just living life in the status quo of the people I had surrounding myself with. Not that there was anything wrong with those people… don’t get me wrong.
The point is, we all have aspirations and goals that we are supposed to achieve those aspirations but to often we allow people with lessor initiatives or different agendas to pull us away from what we could achieve; from what we want to achieve and we are left to settle for something less that we could have been.
I read an interesting article on goal setting a while back written by Karim Jaude and I thought that it would be appropriate to include it with my story about my friend Bert. I hope Bert’s story and the goal setting article by Karim Jaude below inspire you to be who you can be. I encourage you to reach for your personal best and don’t let others pull you off track from your life’s “success destiny!”
All the very best,
How to Set and Attain Goals for Success
Written by Karim Jaude
First, let’s focus on a few broad-brush concepts that will give you a sturdy foundation for setting your goals. Then, we will look at steps to achieving them.
Why goal setting is important
In a fabled Harvard University study only three percent of Harvard students asked set and wrote goals on a regular basis. The stunning revelation of this study is that 30 years later, 50 percent of the total net worth of the group was held by just three percent of the group. You guessed it! They were the three percent that had a habit of setting and writing goals as students, then continued to write goals and review them regularly.
Identify your life values
There is no satisfaction in a goal you meet if in meeting it you have bent or broken a life value. Let’s say your life values include “Thou shall not steal”, or “I will walk with integrity”, and you meet a major financial goal using dishonesty or trickery. When your acts fall out of balance with your beliefs you throw yourself off balance, you may well feel moral angst and discomfort in the victory, which robs you of the joy of your victory.
Make it your own goal
Your goals must be your own. I like to think of these as guiltless goals. Weight loss goals are a perfect example. Planning to lose weight because you want to make a spouse happy is a sure path to defeat and depression. The weight you lose for someone else never stays off. Your goals must be your own and they must inspire you.
Few but inspiring
Set inspiring goals, but limit yourself to setting three short-term goals that are a little stretch, and as many long term goals as you want. Long-term goals could be humorous and should really stretch you. Large inspiring goals put your subconscious mind to work creating paths of achievement. As you set short-term goals, choose goals that feed reaching your larger goal. Your goals should also inspire you and measure you as a person. I always like to know where I am in relationship to my goals.
Goals should be clear, specific, and measureable
The more specific your goals, the more focused your mind becomes. Zig Ziglar, arguably the greatest motivational speaker of our time, asks his audiences a question you might well ask yourself, “do you want to be a meaningful specific, or a wandering generality?”
When you set your goal be sure to answer these three questions:
- Do I really want this goal?
- How badly do I want it?
- Am I willing to do what it takes to achieve it?
Skip the how to … for now!
Setting big, specific, measurable and inspiring goals can be a scary matter, but Kevin Lawrence proclaims, “We don’t have to know how to achieve our goals, we just have to want to achieve them. A lot of people fail to achieve their goals in life because they tell themselves they don’t know how. This is just an excuse for inaction. The truth is, when we focus on what we want with passion, the way to get there becomes evident.”
Reveal your goals
That’s right. Tell people what your goal is and ask for help in reaching it. Successful people enjoy helping others reach their success. Telling others about your goals creates a compelling motivation toward action:
- You never know who and why someone might help you.
- You feel accountable, so you will take action towards achieving your goals.
A word to the wise … tell the positive people in your life your goals. Don’t bother telling those who have no aspirations of their own, they will douse your dreams with cold water.
When you hit a milestone along the way, reward yourself. Plan each milestone, and your reward will help keep you focused.
Take action. Now.
I have built 19 successful companies on three continents. The constants have been setting and working toward achieving specific goals. Here are the 12 most powerful ideas I have ever used in setting and reaching my goals:
- Define your vision. Make sure you know exactly what you really want. (Not just nice to have.) You must be clear and specific.
- Set as many goals as you want long-term. Some of them may be huge; use your short-term goals to help you achieve long-term ones.
- Make plans and take proper actions, not just actions.
- Place a placard in plain view of your work area that reads, “Is this the best use of my time right now? Will it help me reach my goals. Discipline yourself to comply with it.
- Take six steps/actions every day toward reaching your goals. The top six things on your daily action list should focus on your goals. Otherwise, you fall victim to the tyranny of the urgent.
- Be disciplined. Don’t let an appetite of the moment steal any chance of certain, future success. Given the choice of staffing my team with disciplined people or motivated people, I choose the disciplined person every time.
- Be on time.
- Live in the moment and stay focused.
- Make promises thoughtfully. Then, do what you promised you would do.
- Whatever tasks you begin – finish. A scattered path of unfinished tasks takes you out of the focus – fast!
- Be persistent. “Anything we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not because the nature of the thing has changed, but because our ability grew.” Lynda J. Jones.
- Reward yourself and celebrate each success.
Finally, as Zig Ziglar says, “A goal properly set is a goal halfway reached.”