Winners are beginners

Do you mind losing?

If you want to be a winner, you have to learn to lose. That is what this series about Winning is for losers is about: learning to lose so you can be a true winner.

In this third and last article in the series, we’ll concentrate on what losing can tell you about winning. We’ll give you the recipe true winners use to cope with failure, and how they improve each time after they have lost. You will be a winner too if you follow their example.

A miss is as good as a mile?

In our society, we are educated with the idea that it’s all about winning. As the saying goes: A miss is as good as a mile. It means being close to success isn’t good enough, and therefore irrelevant. It is still a failure.

But is it? If you could let go of the overpowering idea that it’s all about winning, then you would be able to observe that losing allows you to identify the causes that can be modified and allow you to improve. Suddenly a ‘miss’ becomes something that can actually help you on to reach your goal.

A ‘miss’ can give you valuable information on how to improve yourself. Once you know what it is that causes you to fail, you are able to stop this. Your focus is on improvement, instead of on the fact that you missed or failed. This is why true winners are always beginners.  What do they begin with?

Losing is an opportunity to learn Click To Tweet

Winners always begin with accepting that loss is a fact of life. They know that failure means what you make of it.

By accepting loss as a fact of life, it becomes feasible to learn to deal with it in a positive way. This means you see losing as just an opportunity to identify the causes of failure and to modify them.

You break down the process of your action in all its parts. You improve those parts of your actions that caused failure the last time you tried. This process is repeated as long as necessary. The cumulative effect of each marginal gain you make is revolutionary.

The imperative is the willingness to look for your personal weaknesses. These you only find out by losing. You lose where you are weak. This is precisely where there is an opportunity to become better.

To admit that you are not good at certain things is the beginning of learning. It is also the beginning of winning. To be able to follow this kind of trajectory, the narrative you live by should be empowering. This means you don’t make failure personal. If you fail, you don’t fail. If you fail, your action needs improvement. Nothing more.

Prepare yourself to lose

Of course the proposition to lose is not an easy one to embrace. The fear of loss is a kind of ‘self-poisoning by adrenaline’ – nature preparing you to fight or flight[1]. You feel exposed and need protection.

It is a purely physical reaction that won’t occur when you prepare yourself to lose. The preparation is a mix of a rationally designed process, plus learning to maintain inner peace in the face of possible loss.

Choose a goal you want and set out a trajectory. Explore it. Assess what needs to be improved and how to make the right decisions and sustain them.

Then prepare yourself to lose by establishing how you cope with losing in your thinking, speaking, and acting. Once you have established this, treat it as you would any other cause of failure. Determine where you can improve by small, safe steps.

Next, choose a doable next step towards your goal and build up new personal evidence about your ability to act. This will be evidence that ‘losing’ is part of the game, and only means you have the opportunity to improve the next time you try. Each time you try, you begin again.

Winners are beginners

This is the recipe:

  1. Chose a goal you truly want.
  2. Where you are (where else could it be?) take a next step towards that goal.
  3. It must be a step that is safe for you to make. Design safety in the process. (See the 2nd article in this series, Failure teaches success)
  4. Learn from your losses what you need to improve.
  5. Keep on ‘failing better’ ( See the 1st article in the series: Winning is for losers) until you reach your goal.

Failure in this process will be exactly what it needs to be. It teaches you what you need to learn in order to accomplish your goal.

When you are able to sustain this process, you have become fault tolerant. This makes you a loser who cannot fail to win – because you are willing to begin again until you have won.

You win each time you begin again

Losers that have learned to be fault tolerant are winners because they are beginners. They know in their heart that you can always think again, speak again, do again and this time better. You win each time you try again.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

See our Coaching offer: The result of our coaching is the unconstrained achievement of your personal and career goals. The coaching is measurable, adaptable and suitable for you. Right from the start you’ll know you are on your way to make progress towards your goal.

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[1] The New Yorker August 3, 2015 I can’t go on by Joan Acocella.

Failure teaches success

This is the second article in the series: Winning is for losers. In the first, we wrote about how ‘failing better’ every time can improve your performance – provided you keep trying!

In this second article, we’ll show you the harmful effects of fearing to lose – and how to turn this around to become a winner by losing.

The fear of losing prevents winning

The uncertainty and doubt that are generated by the fear of losing lead to a mental and emotional state that brings on personal stress. The meaning you give to what happens becomes focused only on the possibility of failure. Now what was certain and could become reality seems imagined and is uncertain.

For most of us, uncertainty and loss is something that we would rather avoid. This avoidance reflex has immediate limiting effects on our actions. It leads to the following ineffective process:

  1. Strained execution
  2. Flawed evaluation
  3. Premature adaptation

A recipe for ineffectiveness

You will easily see that this is not a recipe for winning. For that matter, it’s not even a recipe for genuinely losing. It will just keep you in a limbo of ineffectiveness that may even lead to apathy. Continuing to obey the reflex of avoiding loss will eventually lead to: “Why try? I’ve tried before, and then it failed, too!” You won’t attempt much anymore.

Failure teaches success Click To Tweet

However, you do possess the ability to perform. Or you would, if only you were able to lose.

A Japanese proverb illustrates why it is important to learn to lose in order to perform successfully. It says: Failure teaches success. In other words: in order to be successful you will have to lose your fear of failing.

Start performing in the face of the possibility of failure. See the failure when it comes (as it will) as an opportunity to learn. You will have learned how not to do it. Now do it again, but with what you have learned. That is ‘failing better’, as we saw in the first article in this series. So, how do you lose your fear of failing?

When are you best able to stand failure?

Think about this for a minute. What are the circumstances when you are willing to fail, stand up and try again?

Remember when you learned to walk? Most of us don’t – but you will have seen it with your own or other people’s small children. The sheer joy of learning to walk makes them tolerant of falling down all the time. They just stand up and try again.

You can recapture that tolerance for failure when you set a goal you truly want and start working towards it. However, there is one critical success factor to make this work. Failure has to be safe enough.

Failure has to be safe enough

When you were learning to walk, there was someone around to prevent you from falling dangerously. Failure was kept within the limits of safety.

It is important to design a system that keeps you as safe as possible when you are working towards a goal you truly want. It’s all right to fall down. It’s even all right to get slightly bruised in the process. But you must be able to get up and try again.

It’s possible to design safety. If this is done right, a fault might lead to some failure, but not to total breakdown.

Safety lies in how you do it

Safety can be found in how you do what you do. Climbing a mountain when you are untrained and unsecured is a dangerous business. Falling can get you killed. Climbing a mountain when you’re trained and secured is still dangerous. But when you keep within your capabilities, don’t take any steps you don’t trust, and listen to advice of the guide, you can reach the top.

Safety prevents fear of failure

The safety you experience while performing is of critical importance. The more safety you experience, the more you are able to act free from the awareness that failure is a possibility.

When you act free of the fear of failure, you are more likely to perform to your utmost. You are able to:

  • Fully function even when a fault occurs.
  • You will be able to compensate either in what you do or recover and immediately act again.

Inner peace enables outer reach Click To Tweet

The qualifying factor for how you meet the possibility of failure free of fear is: inner peace. Inner peace is the result of

  • trust in your ability, coupled with
  • the self-confidence that you will be able to bounce back from eventual failure and try again.

You are more flexible when you act from a position of inner peace. When it’s something you do with your body, you will even be literally longer, because your muscles won’t contract as a result of stress.

What is more, without the narrowing of your focus that is the result of the danger of failure, you will interpret what happens with a wide-angle lens of reality. You will see more and better. Your decisions will be better. You are more realistic, because you are more in contact with how it really is.

Take a small step in the direction of a goal you really want. Make sure that you are safe enough to really try. If you fail, take a look at why you failed. Try again. Fail better.

In the third article in this series, Winners are Beginners, we’ll tell you some more about this process of failing better. You will see why winners are always beginners.

© Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

See our Coaching offer: The result of our coaching is the unconstrained achievement of your personal and career goals. The coaching is measurable, adaptable and suitable for you. Right from the start you’ll know you are on your way to make progress towards your goal.

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Winning is for losers

How to achieve your goals by learning to lose

Winning is for losers? We say it is. We think (in fact, we know…) that in order to win, you must first learn to lose. We’ll explain why, and how to become a loser in order to be a winner and achieve your goals in a series of short articles.

In this first article in the series, we’ll present you with the reason why winning is for losers, and how to apply the lessons this holds for truly winning.

Let’s start with how it began…

Learning to be a loser

The first time the six-year-old boy (one of the authors) attended the martial arts school, the teacher asked him, ‘Are you a loser?’

Of course he answered: ‘No, sir’.

‘What a pity,’ was the surprising reply. ‘You do know winning is for losers, don’t you?’

Growing up, the boy came to the dojo every day. Every day the teacher asked him with interest: ‘Have you been angry about losing yet today?’ In this way he touched what kept the boy from being able to win.

Much, much later the boy, by now a grown man, understood why ‘winning is for losers’.

And now we want to tell you, too. Because once you know why winning is for losers, you’ll have become a true winner.

Winning is an effect of losing Click To Tweet

Let’s look at losing from a logical angle. No one can win all the time. In fact winning is an effect of losing. The oft-quoted American philosopher Elbert Hubbart even wrote that ‘there is no failure except in no longer trying.’ Losing is required to improve your failing. Only by failing repeatedly, and failing better every time, can you ever hope to win.

Learn to fail better

Samuel Becket, the great stage writer, famously said to an actor who lost faith during a repetition, ‘Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better.’

The message seems to be: just be of strong will and fail better, that will make you improve. However, in order to ‘fail better’, (that is: being able to face losing, because it will enable you to win), you need something more than just ‘strong will.’ We all know that the human condition is shaped by the necessity to prevent loss – and failure is clearly a form of loss. What is it you need to be able to ‘fail better’ in spite of this?

To fail better you need the inner capacity to deal with the emotions of possible loss. You need to be able to deal with uncertainty.

Handling uncertainty

Uncertainty allows for the possibility you won’t succeed, or to put it in even harsher terms: you presumably might fail. This possibility generates emotions that most people find hard to handle. These are the emotions of loss that upset your inner peace and eat away at your self-confidence.

The effect, very understandably, is doubt. These doubts hamper your effectiveness. After a while these doubts about yourself and your abilities might even preclude the possibility to find out what causes your losing. And that means you won’t ‘fail better’ – you’ll just fail.

Our doubts are traitors

The doubts may become so strong you will start to sabotage yourself. Rather than trying to ‘fail better’ you’ll be trying to prevent losing. Instead of going all out, you’ll be acting cautiously. You’ll adapt to a lower standard that is easily within reach.

Shakespeare pointed out the effects of self-doubts when he wrote:

‘Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.’[1]

By not attempting something because we are afraid to fail, we block the possibility for ourselves to know what specifically causes failure. This means we don’t find out what we specifically need to improve to become a winner.

Go ahead and make one genuine attempt

So what to do instead? Well, face your doubts. And do it anyway. Make one genuine attempt at something.

What if you ‘lose’? Don’t look at the possible failure. Look instead at a means to improve your attempt, so you’ll so you’ll ‘fail better’. That’s the winner’s mentality.

A winner is a beginner. The only way to truly begin is to not continue with what has failed, but to adapt to feedback based on the true attempt. The attempt to ‘the good we oft might win’.

In the next article in this series, Failure teaches success, we’ll show you how to learn to ‘fail better’ and make a true attempt by experiencing how failure teaches success. In the third and last article, Winners are beginners, we’ll show you that knowing how to fail and start again makes you a true winner.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

See our Coaching offer: The result of our coaching is the unconstrained achievement of your personal and career goals. The coaching is measurable, adaptable and suitable for you. Right from the start you’ll know you are on your way to make progress towards your goal.

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[1] William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act 1, scene 4

Promoting yourself and your ideas at work: 3 R’s for success

Promoting your ideas at work needs to be done in a way that builds your reputation and yields the results you are looking for.  In this article we we will give you a reminder what to keep in mind at all times when you promote yourself and your ideas, (the 3 R’s), and how you prepare your strategy for success.

Promoting yourself 3 R'sThe 3 R’s of promoting your ideas

The best way, (and in reality the only way), to promote yourself is by promoting an idea, a proposal, or e.g. an initiative. For this to succeed you have to take into account a threesome you cannot compromise with. This threesome is the basis for your success. Remember it as the triple R:

  1. Relationship
  2. Results
  3. Respect

The Relationship conducts the flow of information;

Results give power to the flow;

Respect makes sure this power doesn’t overpower those concerned.


Likeability and reliability are key factors in deepening relationships. (This was the subject of an earlier article, Relationships are Key.) Promoting your ideas is like selling. People don’t like to be sold. They buy, and they buy from someone they like and trust. Of course you are likeable and reliable, but likeable and reliable are as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is why Results and Respect should be coupled with Relationship.


Your ideas may be outstanding, but it is hardly likely that you will be able to get results in total isolation. You will need the cooperation of others. Cooperation is something people will be happy to give you when they get something out of it as well. Take care the others you involve get Results by helping you. Share and be generous, it will only make your own results more noteworthy.


Respect is the most overlooked factor and often the reason why people fail in promoting themselves in a manner that is appreciated. No one likes someone who self-promotes arrogantly. Always Respect the presence, achievements and contributions of others. Respect is also due to someone’s position in an organization. This is why you should never sidestep or overreach your boss or anyone within his or her circle.

How to go about promoting yourself and ideas

Before you start promoting your ideas with the three R’s in mind, first explore your promotion strategy. Find answers to these questions:

  • Who are the key figures?
  • What are your interfaces with them?
  • Do you know the problems, and  the underused potential in these interfaces?
  • What are the personal interests and how can you contribute to them?
  • In what way can you involve your idea?
  • What is the right course of reasoning?

When you have found the answers to these questions, find someone you trust to talk it over with. Then start promoting yourself and your ideas, keeping Relationships, Results and Respect always in mind. You will be thought worth knowing and promoting, and your promotion of yourself and your ideas will

  • be appreciated,
  • noted favorably, and
  • lead to the desired results.

The Good Career & Life coaching for professionals:

Interested in promoting yourself and your ideas? Coaching with us will make it possible to do so in an effective manner that fits with who you are and gets you the results you are looking for.

    Contact us

Promoting yourself and your ideas at work is one way of achieving your goals. Achieving goals with soft skills is one of the areas we coach in.

Promoting yourself and your ideas at work: Relationships are Key

Relations are KeyPromoting yourself and your ideas is a necessity to get ahead in your career. It doesn’t have to mean you become an arrogant attention seeker. Instead you can be thought likeable and reliable enough for you and your ideas:

  • to be appreciated,
  • noted favorably,
  • and this will get you the desired results.

Relations are Key in promoting yourself and your ideas

Like water that flows through a well-maintained riverbed, promotion is achieved through the ‘channels’ of relations that have been developed earlier. Relations are the critical success factor for promoting yourself and your ideas. They can even be considered the determining factor. So, what is needed to deepen your relations enough you may use them as ‘channels’ to promote yourself and your ideas?

Likeability and Reliability will take you further

We hardly ever hear directly from the horse’s mouth what someone thinks of us. However, research shows again and again that people find two factors crucial to want to deepen a relationship. These are:

  • Likeability
  • Reliability

To take any relationship to the next step, whether private or professional, you have to be liked and trusted. When this is the case, the relationship will be deep enough to allow the flow of information to ‘channel’ the promoting of you and your ideas.

How you will be judged

Being judged likeable and reliable is in large part determined by what is important to the person in question around these factors. You could research and check this. In general, people like friendly people that are pleasant and at ease in interaction. But what is considered ‘likeable’ remains personal. What people will consider ‘reliable’ is even more dependent on personal values.

What is the like and trust factor in your organization?

The personal factor is only part of the equation. Much is also determined by what is normal in your organizational culture. To promote yourself and your ideas at work, keep in mind the culture you inhabit and approach it as a research and sales project. Find out in what way to be of service to the people you need, how to be likeable in your culture, and what are the factors within the culture you work in to be assessed as reliable.

Do your homework

Assuming you have been working there for a while, you probably know by now what is ‘normal’ in your organization, and what is expected of you. If you are new to the organization, look at how the organization advertises itself to clients, and compare this to the ads for staff. In conclusion, check the career guidelines to see what is asked for and assess in what way this is made practical and concrete in the performance review.

Now for the final touch

Now that you have found out what it takes within your organization and the people you work with to be judged likeable and reliable, it’s time for a final touch. You have to feel comfortable with these requirements! You have to be certain that what these people judge as likeable and reliable is a judgment you share sufficiently. You also need to feel secure you can meet these requirements on your own terms.

Go for it, and start developing the relations that you need to promote yourself and your ideas.

The Good Career & Life coaching for professionals

Interested in promoting yourself and your ideas? We can support you in doing so in an effective manner that fits with who you are.

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Promoting yourself at work is part of achieving your career goals. We coach managers and professionals in achieving goals with soft skills.

Promoting yourself and your ideas at work – Earn the credit you need

Promoting yourself at work -Earn the credit you need

Promoting yourself at work is, as you will undoubtedly have discovered, a necessity if you want to have a successful career and get the things done that you think are important.

However, perhaps you are one of those professionals who fear that promoting yourself and your ideas will appear pushy or arrogant?

There’s good news for you. Actually, it’s quite easy to promote yourself without being thought arrogant. Instead you can be seen as a resourceful professional, worth knowing and promoting, who can be trusted to come up with valuable ideas.

How to achieve this is the subject of the three articles in a series. In this first article, we’ll show you how you start by promoting others. That’s the way you earn the credit you need to promote yourself at work.

The dynamics of promoting yourself at work

Promoting interpreted as an activity basically means the furthering of growth. See this as the sowing and watering of the seed, weeding the ground and taking care of the maturation until the harvest. Remember the old wisdom here: you reap what you sow.

Promoting interpreted as an interaction process means encouraging someone in a certain direction, that is: the direction you need and the direction the other person wants to go. The right ‘seed’ to sow is a blend of cooperation, endorsing, supporting, assisting, backing, contributing, fostering, nourishing, affirming, and recommending. Promoting yourself at work, however contrary this may sound, is in the first instance about promoting others.

Therefore, whatever you do next, learn to support someone else in in his or her promotion, that is, of course: if they and their ideas are worth it. By doing what they need, you earn the return of the favor, plus you’ll learn the dynamics of promoting. Having promoted someone else, you will have learned what it takes to promote yourself and your own ideas in your organization.

Does this mean you have to forget about yourself?

On the contrary – you are the starting point.

  1. You first resolve what the goal is you want to achieve.
  2. Next you assess whom you need to achieve that goal.
  3. Once you have assessed whom you need, you research their needs.
  4. Then you decide how you can help get them the results they need by promoting their ideas.

Approach your research for the right person and their needs as if it is a sales situation and take into account these factors:

  • Determine who (A) has the authority to take a decision about you and your idea.
  • Find out who (B) is able to influence A effortlessly.
  • Determine who is able to assist you in giving information about A, B, their needs  and their mutual work relation.

Sow goodwill, harvest credit

Now you have the basic information to establish the right relations. They will enable you to promote yourself and your ideas. You start with helping these people get the results they need. They, in turn, will be interested in listening to your ideas.  They will promote you within the organization. You have sown goodwill – you will harvest credit.

Did you like this article? Read the other two in the series:

Promote yourself at work: Relationships are Key

Promote yourself and your ideas at work: 3 R’s for Success

The Good Career & Life coaching for professionals:

Interested in promoting yourself and your ideas? Coaching with us will make it possible to do so in an effective manner that fits with who you are.

    Contact us

Promoting yourself at work is necessary to achieve your career goals. We coach managers and professionals in achieving goals with soft skills.

Achieve the career goals you really care for

achieve the career goals you really care for

Achieve career goals you really care for: you will be using your potential to the full and reach your personal summit.

Always thought you could do more than you are doing now? You are probably right. One way to make that potential come true is to find what motivates you to step out of your comfort zone, and explore what it takes to reach your personal summit. Is that easy? No, not necessarily. But once you start exploring, you’ll find that if you do find what really inspires you, it can bring you a long way.

Achieve the career goals you really care for

Those who transform the world by showing what is possible focus on a goal they really want, and do what is necessary to achieve it. Look at people like Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first (that we know of) to reach the top of Mount Everest. He climbed that mountain not to be the first, but because he wanted to see if it was possible for him to do so.

The truly great performers are the ones who set a goal, follow their heart, act, learn, and adapt. To them it doesn’t even matter if they reach the top. What really matters to them is that they tried for something they really cared for.

Reinhold Messner, another mountaineer (reputedly the best in the world), said the same about the best climbers. They challenge the impossible in their mind because they want to accomplish a specific goal, a goal that inspires them to do extra-ordinary things. He did so himself, when he was the first (with Peter Habeler) to reach the summit of Everest without supplementary oxygen, something everyone had thought impossible.

Explore your potential

If you always do what you know you can do, or what is considered possible by the industry you work in, by history, in the society you live in, what your friends, family and colleagues believe about you, you will stay within the limitations this imposes on you. Once you set a goal outside those limitations, but within the reach of what you truly desire, you will not only test what is possible, you will explore your potential.

Just ordinary, but sufficiently motivated

Do you need to be an exceptional person to do this? Do you need to be an outstanding professional or a uniquely endowed manager, entrepreneur, salesperson, or artist? Sir Edmund Hillary had the following to say about that:

“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

To conquer yourself means meeting the obstacles that come your way, keep your eye on the goal you want to achieve, and find a way through or around them. There surely will be obstacles arising from the circumstances of your life or work, or obstacles in your own nature. Conquering those obstacles will not be guaranteed if you pursue a goal that really motivates you. However, our experience shows that it is a lot easier to find a way to conquer them if your goal is sufficiently inspiring to you.

What inspires you?

One way to answer the question ‘what sufficiently motivates you’ is to set a goal beyond what you think is possible right now, but still truly desired by you. The next step is to start exploring the steps that are necessary to take to reach that goal. Never stop exploring this. Your exploration of your potential will prove your thoughts correct that more is possible for you. You are indeed able to do and be more than you think now. Guaranteed.

It won’t necessarily be easy to find what motivates you sufficiently to go go after it no matter what. You may need a little help in finding what it is for you. But when you do, the experience of many of our clients is that your life and work will be more meaningful, more satisfying and judged to be more successful by you.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

The Good Career and Life coaching for professionals: If you want to explore how to achieve the career goals you really care for, a coaching session with us can help you on your way. You will gain:

  • (renewed) clarity about what is important to you,
  • what inspires you and
  • what would be the first doable step you can take to achieve the career goals you really care for.

Achieving goals with soft skills is one of the soft skills we offer coaching in.

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Photo credits: This photo is showing the summit of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. copyright Fotosearch 20516453.

Achieving goals is much easier when you’re prepared

Achieving goals begins with preparation. Based on best practices, this article is a short reminder of how to prepare for achieving your life and career goals.

PreparationAchieving goals begins with preparation. It is comparable to going on a journey. You need to know your destination and prepare the journey before setting out. It’s not at all difficult. But it’s surprising how often we forget to take these preparations where it concerns our life and career goals. Prepare yourself by taking the steps we introduce below – the time will be well spent.

1) You set the goal.

Setting the goal is a process with verifiable things to do before you actually take action to achieve it.

A goal is a destination.

Achieving goals starts with defining the end. ‘The goal’ used to be a pole where a race ended. You couldn’t go any further. You had arrived. A goal is the place where the movement ends and the journey finds completion.

A goal is not a means.

To set a goal you have to make sure that it can serve the function of a pole at the end of a race. Is it really the end of the race? Or is your ‘goal’ really a means to another end? You can recognize a goal by wanting it for its own sake. It doesn’t serve to bring you somewhere else.

A goal is what you want to achieve for its own sake.

Inspired entrepreneurs are examples of people who are usually good at setting goals for their own sake. Of course they are in their business to make that business successful and make money. But for many, there is something more. They do what they do because they want to. They believe in their product or service. So much so, that even when their business is successful and they have more money than they can spend, they still keep at it.

Recognize when your goal is really a means.

Setting career goals can be a little tricky. They have a tendency to be the means towards the end, not the end itself. Say you set a goal that involves a certain job title, like manager or partner. Ask yourself: is this a goal that I want to achieve for its own sake? Or is it a means to achieve something else?

There’s nothing wrong when your ‘career goal’ turns out to be a career means. It just helps to get you where you want to be when you know what your real goal is. This will help you in making the important decisions along the way. It will also inform the objectives you have to attain in order to accomplish your goal.

2) Identify your goal

Achieving goals you want to achieve for their own sake becomes a lot easier when you can identify with the goal. ‘To identify’ does not only mean: ‘to know and recognize the identity of something’, but also ‘to associate closely with something’, and ‘to regard it as the same or identical’.

In the case of identifying a career goal this means: does the goal suit your identity? When a goal suits your identity, you will be able to identify yourself with what the goal represents once it is achieved. You will recognize it as representative of who you are.

You are the one that should answer the question ‘Does it suit me?’ Of course you can and maybe even should ask advice of others. They will probably give you valuable ideas and insights about your possibilities. But you should make the final decision.

3) Prepare the first step

Achieving goals is done one step at the time. Once you have set your goal and identified it as suitable to your identity, you formulate objectives that you can take action on. An objective is something concrete that can be achieved and brings you closer to the goal. The objective must be in line with the goal you set and with your identity.

Set an objective that is doable. Make sure you formulate the objective in such a clear and concrete way you are able to evaluate whether or not you have achieved it. This means that you formulate identifiable concrete criteria that have to be met.

You must at least be able to take the next step. This is what ‘doable’ means. Don’t yet worry about the step after that, but do try to formulate them when you have an idea.

(Here’s a preview of the rest of the journey: When you have achieved this first step: formulate the next objective and the next doable step. When you failed to achieve the first step: evaluate why not. Adapt, take a next step, evaluate. Follow this process until you have accomplished your goal.)

Show and tell

Frame your goal into a sentence of seven to twelve words. What is the goal? Why do you want it and how does it suit you? Once you are satisfied with the language, find someone to say it to. Then tell them about the first doable objective you have chosen to act on. Observe how you feel. It should feel like a game where you cannot lose, because you have formulated a goal you want to achieve.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

(P.S. You can find a checklist at the end.)

The Good Career and Life coaching for professionals: A coaching conversation about preparing your (career) goals will ensure you don’t miss anything and will be well prepared to achieve your life and career goals. We’d be happy to talk to you about it.

Achieving goals with soft skills is one of the soft skills we offer coaching in.

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• I have set the goal

• It is an end-goal, not a means

• I can identify with this goal

• I have formulated doable objectives

• The objectives are in line with my goal

• I have formulated identifiable concrete criteria

• I know what to evaluate

• A doable next step has been formulated

• Goal, objectives, action, and criteria suit me

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(c) Can Stock Photo /fmcginn

Achieving your career goals: How do you do it?

the challenge of the process

There is one career challenge that, if you take it on, makes the difference between a slow and a fast progression towards achieving your career goals.

One of the most unexpected and underestimated challenges to achieving your career goals usually has very little to do with your level of professionalism. Instead, it has everything to do with how you handle the process with people.

You will be amazed how easily and readily you achieve results when you take care of the interaction process.

How do you achieve your career goals?

It’s not only your professionalism that you’re judged on. That you are a professional and capable of performing professionally, or at least showing the potential of being able to do so, is more or less a given. This is just the content.

What is never taken for granted is how you perform as a professional, in your relations with your clients, and with your colleagues and bosses. This is the process. It’s what people talk about when they say you need soft skills to achieve your goals.  (By the way, we offer coaching in achieving goals with soft skills.)

  • Content is about what you do.
  • Process is about how you do it.

‘How you do it’ has to do with the social interaction you have with clients, colleagues and bosses, and how they perceive this interaction. Seen from this perspective, essentially it comes down to this question: Do people (clients and colleagues) like to work with you?

How not to do it

Process (how you relate to people) is just as important as content in achieving your career goals. Paradoxically, many organizational cultures are not very accustomed to addressing this issue directly.

Most careers start with the task to achieve content-focused results. Experience grows from the kind of interaction this engenders. These interactions tend to focus almost exclusively on content – on what you do. This leaves the interaction – how you do it – under-exposed.

If process is a topic at all, most of the time the participants in the discussion try to avoid the distractions the difficulties or frustrations of interaction cause.

As a result, issues concerning the interaction often are expressed in words, habits, and manners common to the culture of focusing on content. This means process-related concerns are usually shared with you in one of the following manners:

  • Related to content (but really concerning the interaction with you)
  • Unsuitable content words concerning the interaction with you. They should say something about the quality of the interaction, but usually don’t.

Most professionals (including those leading others) have very little experience in seeing content and process as inextricably linked in achieving results. The chance is great therefore you never learned how you achieve your goals by taking care consciously of the process between yourself and other people.

How to use the process to achieve your career goals

Before you read on, answer this question. Would you like to be recognized for what you want and need professionally and personally, and get it?

If the answer was yes, know that most other people answer that question the same way. When you give this recognition and appreciation to others, you are using the process in a way that is advantageous to everybody.

Using the process to your advantage is possible when you learn to address the process consciously as a factor in your dealings with other people. This is done by acquiring some experience with two simple angles to pay attention to in your interaction with others.

These two things are:

  • Recognition.

This means you are able to recognize that people are different, and recognize their particular needs in social interaction. These needs may be the same as the ones you appreciate or they may be radically different. Take for instance people who need precision and focus on detail, vs. those who work with approximations and the bold move. Or those who believe in explicit and factual representation, vs. those who like a more implicit style.[1]

  • Appreciation.

This means that you actively show in your words and manner that you have recognized the needs and preferences of the other. You show you are able to make your own needs and preferences part of the interaction in a socially suitable way .

When you are able to recognize people and show this in your interaction by appreciation, you are able to interact with a broad range of people on a deep level. This increases the quantity of possible relations.  It also augments the quality of potential relations.

This is where the professional interaction gets a bit more personal. It offers you more free space to find common ground, explain what is meant, build and maintain trust, and get to know each other.

You achieve your career goals faster if you consciously use the process side next to your focus on content. Maybe more importantly, probably in a more agreeable manner as well.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi de Graaf

The Good Career and Life coaching for professionals. If you want to know more about your style of interaction and preferences, and understand more about those of others, our coaching helps. We offer coaching in achieving goals with soft skills.

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[1] There are many more preferences in style that color interactions between people. We developed a method that addresses this among other things. It gives you insight in your own preferences, and some understanding of the preferences of others.

Photo credits:
(c) Can Stock Photo /xilius.

Do your career goals have what it takes?

do your career goals have what it needs?The best way to achieve career goals is to interpret your career as a means to an end. The provision here is that you know what the end is, meaning: what purpose does it serve. Why do you do what you do? What should it lead to? What are the needs your career should fulfill?

Your career goal should, in this perspective, also serve your life goal. Your career goal should be part of fulfilling your needs in life. This means that to achieve career goals you have to determine what your life is about and how your career serves this purpose. What do you need in your life? How does your career support those needs?

Do your career goals have what you need?

Let’s look at your needs here. The needs in your life range from the basics of survival to the peak of personal development. Abraham Maslow designed a hierarchy of human needs that is still practical and widely used. [1] It is of course just a model, but useful to get some insight into the different needs you have in life.

The hierarchy starts with the real basics: what you need to survive as a body. It ends with what you need as a human being in terms of non-material personal development.

This is what the pyramid of needs looks like (from bottom to top):

  • Basics like income and preconditions for health
  • Security like a roof over your head, insurance
  • Belonging and community
  • Appreciation and learning
  • Life purpose participation and realization.

If your Career would only serve your highest needs, it wouldn’t serve its purpose. After all, you do need to stay alive in order to serve your life’s purpose. But, when your basic needs are covered, it is natural to want to climb the pyramid, and strive towards a meaningful life.

Let’s assume that your basic needs are covered. (By the way, do you know what they are? Do you have a realistic picture of what you really need financially each month?) Next, you should be aware of what your other ‘needs’ are. Are you? And do you know how you want to fulfill them?

Feeling comfortable?

Without exhaustively and precisely knowing what our needs are, most of us have a pretty good general idea of what they are, or might be. There is also a good way to simply feel if your needs are met, or not. Since we are talking about career goals, the best approach would be to start there.

How do you know if your career goals answer your needs?

If a career fits your needs, you’ll feel comfortable and at ease with yourself. If not, the career either isn’t suitable to fulfill your needs, or you mixed up the timing of your need(s) and the reality of their present fulfillment.

Use your discomfort

Use your feeling of discomfort to find out why and where your needs are not met. For this, you’d need to reassess what (life) needs your career is supposed to fulfill, and detect where the gap occurs. When you’ve found the gap, you’ll know where you have work to do.

Sometimes you need a major rethink about your career goals. More often, it’s a matter of knowing what you really want, and putting your priorities straight. What you need here is to take the time for reflection, think things through, inform yourself about your options, and set your career goals accordingly.

By Iris Dorreboom and Rudi De Graaf

The Good Career and Life coaching for professionals: A coaching session can assist you in assessing your needs and whether your career goals have what it takes to fulfill them.

Achieving your goals is one of the soft skills we offer coaching in.

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[1] You can find a diagram of Maslow’s pyramid (and some more information about his ideas) on Businessballs is a free learning and development resource for people and organizations, run by Alan Chapman, in Leicester, U.K.

Photo credits:  © Can Stock Photo Inc. / poselenov