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Shooting for the stars

A few years ago, we were on a business trip in Gothenburg Sweden. We were meeting with our Swedish partner agency, which recruited and screened nannies for our former childcare business Au Pair Link.

We were discussing our forecasts for demand and the supply we needed from our Swedish partners. They were concerned our targets were too bold. With a wry grin on my face I suggested that it was “better to shoot for the stars and land among the tree tops, than shoot for the tree tops and never leave the ground.”

We were quickly told that that was a very Anglo Saxon sales approach and that in Sweden it was considered better to “aim for the tree tops and make it there – because then you did what you said you would!”

I’m a believer in setting BIG goals. Aiming big – drives us to think laterally about how we can step change momentum rather than only achieve incremental growth. In short, you need to innovate to achieve big goals.

But, I can still appreciate where my conservative Swedish friends were coming from. At the end of the day you still need to deliver on your promises – to staff, suppliers, shareholders etc. The lesson here is don’t set big goals to reach the stars, unless you have plans to build a rocket ship (or a whooping great slingshot). Having big goals is admirable, but without any significant tactical plans in place to achieve your goals they can appear to be big empty goals.

So, I’d encourage you all to continue to think big and set audacious goals. Then sit down and work out how you can make those big hairy goals a reality. You may stumble across a different way of doing things, realise that you current modus operandi won’t ever get you to where you want to go or you might just revise that big goal of yours to become something more achievable.

But remember, just because you are setting SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-framed) doesn’t mean you should think small.