The Problem With Goals

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Jan 10, 2013 2:31:00 PM


I’m a big fan of quotes, and I’ve got a love/hate relationship with goals.  So the two collided when I came across this quote from David Ogilvy:  "Don't bunt. Aim out of the ballpark."

My feelings with the quote hit “Perfect Storm” status when you add that I’m a hitting coach in college baseball.  One that firmly believes that every one of my players needs to be able to implement the bunt flawlessly.  In baseball, bunting is called small ball, and it can be quite powerful.

All you need to do is look at the San Francisco Giants who have won two of the last three World Series with solid fundamentals and small ball, beating two teams that relied on the ability to “hit it out of the park” in the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.

I have no problem whatsoever, and often encourage, that entrepreneurs, executives and salespeople should set stretch goals.  I even go so far as to say that stretch goals should scare you.

However, I’ve also learned that stretch goals can be as big a contributor to the problem as they are to the solution.  “Aiming out of the ballpark,” may push you, but it also encourages you to try to skip steps.  Why hit singles and doubles when I can just go for the home run?

If I’ve learned one important lesson about success, is that it’s boring.  Sustained success is about getting the fundamentals right, doing the little things, and consistently moving things forward – bunting, if you will.

So, if I may be so bold as to alter the famous David Ogilvy’s quote:

Aim out of the ballpark…and bunt.

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