Far too often, we think big. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; however, rarely do big dreams come to fruition.
I don’t mean to be a dream killer. In fact, I am always dreaming. But, I try to dream in stages. I think about the simplest way to get to the next step, not to the top of the stairs. I.....
I don’t mean to be a dream killer. In fact, I am always dreaming. But, I try to dream in stages. I think about the simplest way to get to the next step, not to the top of the stairs. In no way am I saying I am better than you for thinking this way. Nor am I saying I am a master of small wins (if I were, I would weigh a little less and would train my brain not to focus on the last slice of pizza in the refrigerator). Dream big, but accomplish in steps.
Most times, our goals are broken because we overpromise and under deliver. A few weeks ago, I wrote about overpromising. When you start promising what is accomplishable and working toward a goal in baby steps, this is the beginning of creating something big — especially in internal processes.
This is the power of the small win.
We overpromise for two reasons. First, we are naturally afraid of disappointing others, therefore we propose ideas that are big and likely overly challenging to nail. Second, we feel we need to overpromise in order to maintain relationships, clients, business or jobs.
The truth is, though, we don’t need to overpromise to succeed. We just need to communicate better and explain the power of the smaller win.
Overpromising sets up failure. Even though there can be many small wins mixed into the path to failure, by failing to celebrate those, we set-up disappointment. When we only celebrate the top of the stairs and not the first step, disappointment surrounds us. Especially with the Millennial generation.
Imagine that rather than saying, “I am going to lose 20 pounds this year,” you said, “I am going to lose 2 pounds in the first week before setting the next goal.” Let’s say we do this 10 times throughout the first 12 weeks. During those two weeks when you didn’t lose the weight, your sense of failure is limited because you had other wins dispersed throughout the process.
This keeps things positive.
If you come into a review with one big win, it will be hard for a boss to say let’s give you a fat raise and promotion. If you come in with 20 smaller, but significant victories, you will have a better shot. It certainly isn’t quantity over quality, more so celebrations in the little things.
The same goes for the client side. I figured this out very early — and it wasn’t brain surgery. If I openly discuss expectations with the client at the beginning of a relationship, we can celebrate the small victories as we fight for the major one. Every client we work with wants placement in the Wall Street Journal or on the TODAY Show. Why wouldn’t they?
The fact of the matter is, those placements take a lot of effort, time and education for any producer or writer to say yes. That can mean hundreds of calls to different reporters before one shows mild interest. If we tell the client that we should be able to book a big placement like WSJ or TODAY in the first month, their expectation is set and the relationship is bound to fail. If we work toward many little wins, like 30–50 local placements for franchisees that includes focal points on development, we still win. And then, when that major placement comes, we can celebrate that in a bigger way because the expectations were set correctly.
In our work environment, we are working on the small wins. A whole bunch of small wins will ultimately lead up to big wins. And big wins will lead up to more big wins. We try to focus on celebrating the little things people do. Are we perfect? Hell no. But we are trying. We are trying to celebrate those who help us achieve great goals.
There is some truth to stopping and smelling the roses. There is also truth to finding every day victories. This will keep staff happier, motivated and supportive toward your business goals. This will also keep your clients happier, motivated and supportive toward a long-term relationship.
As you set goals for 2014, create some small wins. It will help make the bigger ones achievable. It’s great to dream big, especially if you understand it will be a process to achieve. There are no get rich quick schemes in life. There is certainly a little luck, but hard work and process helps you get to the first of many finish lines.