Greetings from Chandler, Arizona!
I hope this email finds you and yours healthy and well.
Last week, I announced the launch of the Monday Morning Edge Online Community.
My mission for this community is to help ambitious coaches accelerate their careers by sharing their ideas online.
We already have an active Slack community and hosted our first office hours video call, which you get a taste of over on YouTube.
If you’re a coach and have a desire to start a website, blog, podcast, or use the Internet to share your ideas in any way, this is for you.
Now, onto today’s newsletter…
Goals are weird things, aren’t they?
From the time we’re young, we’re indoctrinated into a way of being that makes setting and achieving goals a primary focus of life. We’re led to believe that achieving our lofty goals is the definition of success. And every business book will tell you the same thing: you need to set goals. Preferably SMART ones.
But the strange thing about goals is that they’re often counterproductive to the life we want to live.
In recent years, Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert, has popularized the saying, “Goals are for losers.” Let’s say you set a goal to lose 10 pounds by the end of 2020. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good to have objectives to shoot for, right?
But Adams points out that from now until those 10 pounds drop off your body, you will feel like you’re short of your goal – because you are! That mental weight of feeling like a failure at all times (with no evidence to prove otherwise) can be extremely taxing and even make you quit. Many people do.
Adams then points out what happens when you persevere and lose those 10 pounds. You will be faced with two options: “feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or set new goals and reenter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure.”
The problem with goals is that achievement is fleeting. Your achievements under a goal-driven approach live in the past or the future. You’re either looking back towards past achievements or dreaming of future ones.
This approach may work for some. In fact, it worked for me when I was a baseball player. But in the dynamic world of coaching and one’s career, I’ve found goals to be unhelpful at best, counterproductive at worst.
Adams covers the difference between goals and what he calls “systems” in his blog post on the subject. It can also be visualized like this:
So with that being said, I’d like to share some additional resources with you.
Book of the Week
Atomic Habits by James Clear
This entire book is incredible, but there are two themes that stick out to me above all others from Clear’s book which has now sold over 2 million copies.
- Habits are not about behavior. They’re about your identity. The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner. You don’t want to write a book, you want to become a writer. When you focus on becoming the type of person you want to become, each action you take towards that aspirational identity is a vote for the type of person you want to become.
- Environment is more important than motivation. Let’s say a few of your players cramped up in the final minutes of a game last week and you now want to get your team to drink more water. Coaches following the common approach to behavior change would try to motivate the team to drink more water by giving informative presentations and telling the players to drink more. While that might work for some, a better approach is to give them the information, but also shape the environment in a way that makes them more likely to drink water. Maybe you place more water coolers throughout the locker room or bring extra water bottles out to the practice field. You could purchase individual bottles for all of your players to carry with them throughout their day (budget constraints may vary). The lesson here is that if you want to change behavior, your best bet is to change the environment.
When we talk about team culture, we often keep the conversation very vague. Most books on culture disappoint because they’re too general and riddled with survivorship bias.
Clear goes deeper than that. He points out that your culture is the sum of the habits of each individual. Habits are practical whether you’re trying to lose some weight, starting a regular writing practice, or building a championship-caliber organization.
And in case you prefer to listen to a podcast episode, I really enjoyed Clear’s interview with David Perell on how to build better habits.
Articles of the Week
Growth Without Goals by Patrick O’Shaughnessy
If you’re reading this newsletter, chances are you’re a long-term thinker. You live with your eyes fixed on a target 5, 10, or 30 years down the round. This is a good thing. Having the longest lens is a competitive advantage.
But investor Patrick O’Shaugnessy takes long-term thinking to another level. He writes that long-term thinking is really just goalless thinking. It’s living with a focus on exploration instead of achievement. Instead of creating goals, O’Shaughnessy now lives with a bent towards exploring the world around him. This leaves him open to pursuing his interests, something that Richard Feynman was a master of.
What would it look like for you to shift your focus from achievement to exploration? How would your life be different? Read this article, and then shoot me an email with what you think.
The Infinite Game by Blas Moros (https://blas.com/)
Elite athletes often have a difficult time transitioning from sports to the “real world.” If you’ve been following my work for a while, you know that I did too.
A former Notre Dame men’s tennis player had a similar experience and shared his reflection on how former student-athletes can best make the transition from an athletic career to “real-life.”
The thing that stood out to me most was his list of the 3 things to look for when deciding what job to take. Blas writes:
“Find a situation where you’re
- Surrounded by high-quality people,
- Working on meaningful problems you care about, and
- That benefits the world in some way.”
This got me thinking about something I’ve recently found to be true.
We’re often told to think about what we want to do (become a professional pitching coach, for example), but the better plan is to focus on surrounding yourself with A players. This is part of playing the infinite game. You want to play long-term (goalless) games with long-term people. This can take many forms and it may lead you to do something that you never expected or planned for.
When looking for work you love, it’s far more effective to ask who you want to be than what you want to do.
Your challenge: Read the essay, then respond to this email with your thoughts on how you will apply this to your life.
That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading!
Take some time to read the articles and send me your thoughts in an email. I promise to read and respond to each one.
Have a great week,