This may seem like a ridiculous philosophy. When attempting to build a business you want to feel like you’re progressing forward and therefore having safe, reachable goals in a manageable and rewarding course of action.
However, Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of the #1 book ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ and advisor to companies such as Facebook and StumbleUpon, proves time and time again that this is simply not the case. Mediocre goals will produce mediocre results. It’s only when you reach for the seemingly unreachable that you find yourself with it in your hand.
The Philosophical Experiment
When Tim Ferriss was lecturing in Stanford University in 2005, he put a challenge to his class. He offered the prize of a round-the-world trip to anyone who could complete his as-of-yet undefined challenge. 20 people out 60 stayed after class and accepted the challenge of attempting to contact three seemingly impossible people to contact, and have one of them answer three questions.
Nobody did it. Not one.
Among the cacophony of flying excuses of ‘not enough time’ and ‘I had a paper due’, Ferriss found the common excuse time and time again was that the challenge was so difficult that people gave up. The students believed that someone else would do better than them anyway, so they didn’t even give it a go.
But How Does This Affect Your Business?
Don’t Overestimate the Competition
The point that Ferriss was trying to make was that the large majority of people in society just give up. They don’t even try for the top goals because they believe they’ll never reach them. Most people aim for mediocrity
because they know they can achieve that and feel some level of reward, rather than having greater potential for failure and disappointed. They opt for the safe option because they think they’re not good enough.
What this means for you and your goal setting, is that you should be challenging yourself to reach those unreachable goals. The vast majority of businesses around you are taking baby steps to be safe and secure, leaving that top spot open for you.
Unrealistic Goals Affect You
The other important thing that Ferriss mentions is that unrealistic goals are labelled such because the risk is huge, but so is the pay-off if you succeed. On a basic level, the national lottery is going to have a bigger pay-off but less than chance of winning than a raffle at your local market.
When you look at your average business goal, say reaching 100 Facebook followers in a month, yes that’s achievable and when it’s done you will have 100 Facebook followers for your business. Mediocre goals provide mediocre results.
However, say you aimed for 100 Facebook followers a week, you’re getting the ball rolling with a snowball effect on people. 100 followers a week may seem unrealistic but the payoffs are much higher because suddenly you’ve opened up an enormous audience to tout your
Ferrari chronograph watch
, or industrial cleaning services to.
But the thing at hand here is that when the reward of achieving an unrealistic goal is so desirable, and you tune yourself into believing you can achieve it, you work much harder to push yourself up the ladder to grab the golden goose.
If the reward is of average value, you’re only going to put in average effort to get it. If the goal is boring, you’re going to be bored. This always comes across in your work.
Therefore, the conclusion that Ferriss draws on the subject is that you’re more likely to achieve the unrealistic goal because you’ll put the effort in to get there. With the ‘realistic’ goal, you’re not as bothered, you don’t put in the effort, and the whole thing falls through. So paradoxically, the ‘unrealistic’ goal is actually far more of a reality.
In conclusion, aim high. If you’re looking for a run of the mill business that all you have to do is give yourself easy-to-chew goals which you can swallow whole if you need to. If you’re looking to be the next Google, or Nike, or Mercedes, you need to bite off more than you can chew and work at it.
We should change the old adage: shoot for the moon, and you’ll get the moon.
loves to buy gifts for her family. When she’s not writing, she’s chained to her laptop searching for the best seasonal gifts, this year priding herself on her Ferrari laptop find at
. Her Dad will be over the moon!