Shooting for the Moon

The tag line of this blogsite declares “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night”. The quote comes from a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I remember it from my childhood, and its advice rings as true today as ever before. The poet says that great people have not just achieved great heights by chance. Instead, while others have “slept” (or lazed or lost focus), they have toiled upward consistently, even by working through the night. The message is that their greatness was achieved through sacrifice and hard work, and not by taking the easy path through life. If you talk to the men and women you admire in business, academics, or your community, you will find that the same thing is true in their cases.

In your personal, academic, and work life, always have an ultimate vision for yourself. Know what you want to achieve and convert your vision into long-term goals and shorter-term objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Limited (SMART). Don’t set wishy-washy standards for yourself. The higher your performance levels and achievements, the more likely you will reap great rewards down the road. (That being said, failure is a part of life, and it is okay to fail – as long as we learn from our mistakes and try again until we find success. More about this in a future post.)

It is not enough to envision a bright future for yourself; you have to plan each step to take you to your destination. Write down your objectives, share them with others, and involve these persons in keeping you on-track. You might do this by creating an action plan for each major objective. A good action plan lists (1) each task/ action to be completed, (2) the person responsible for completing them, and (3) the deadline for each task. Where your action plan is focused on personal objectives, the person responsible might always be you, but your family or friends might sometimes be listed if they are helping you to complete certain tasks.

The PDCA cycle can help us to set and meet our goals. Take a look at the following document: documenting-personal-strategy. It encourages you to set just a few goals for yourself, and follow them through from planning, to implementation, to measurement of results, and finally to feedback and improvement of our approach so that we get better each time the PDCA cycle begins again. I encourage you to use this document as a part of your toolkit to enable excellence in your life. I am sure it will help you to stay focused on your objectives so you can systematically climb to higher and higher heights in your life.  As positive thinking author Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.

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