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Winning Goals – Part One By Dr. Daniel Hallak

The Heart of Winning Goals – Part One

I’ve been failing at goal setting since my 6th birthday party. My parents created thoughtful birthday games to keep everyone entertained. We started with a round of pin the tail on the donkey in the yard. They surrounded me with my friends, spun me till I was dizzy, and set me loose to pin the tail on the paper donkey—or the closest person to me. The game was fun but the reward wasn’t fulfilling.

The next game seemed better. Mom and dad setup a piñata full of candy. Sign me up! They gave me clear instructions, “Smash the piñata hard enough to create a candy shower”. It was go time. They again blindfolded me and spun me in circles. With some help I turned in the right direction and I started swinging. Every time I stepped up to bat my parents would pull the string. I’d swing at the air and fall to the ground. I kept swinging, sometimes grazing the piñata, occasionally getting a solid hit. Visions of the candy shower kept me going. Every kid took a swing but none of us could make sugar rain from the sky. Finally, the piñata broke—maybe because my dad was yanking the string so hard—and we all scrambled to fill our little hands with loot.

Is goal setting worthwhile?

When I coach people on setting goals, sometimes it feels just like the piñata at a birthday party. People start with excitement but they give up after a few swings at their goal, even if the reward seems sweet. This is why some people hate setting New Year’s resolutions and why lots of organizations spin their tires with new priorities seemingly every minute.

So why do people make such a big deal about goal setting? The short answer is that goals work and goals win. The trick is that not all goals are created equally. It turns out that most people set goals that suck, if they set any at all. The good news is that setting strong goals can accelerate and equip you to cascade that motivation to others leaders who get busy developing even more leaders. Crafting energizing goals can propel all of you forward to create more health and flourishing while building resilience for setbacks. Goals set your leaders up for success. To set goals that work and win you need to tap into the heart and science of setting goals. Let’s start with heart.

What do you truly love? 

“Follow your heart” is the some of the worst, potentially misleading advice that people give on a regular basis. Here’s the problem. Sometimes your heart wants the right thing for you and other times your heart can get you in a lot of trouble. When I mention the heart, I’m referring to the core of who you are as a person. I’m not talking about the blood pumping organ that beats over 3 billion times if you live to be 80 years old.

I’m focusing on the place where your deepest emotions and affections live. Your heart is a wildcard that can equally drive human potential or pathology. This is dangerous. It means that it’s possible to set strong goals in the wrong direction and cause a lot of collateral damage along the way. You can be effective and evil at the same time—all in good faith. We don’t need to look too far into the past to prove this. Adolf Hitler was arguably very effective at carrying out some of the most terrible atrocities in the history of humanity. The worst part was that in his heart he believed that he was creating a better world.

Even though your heart can be deceptive, when it comes to setting goals, your heart is a good place to begin. Starting with heart reveals what you deeply love and what you identify with most closely. Once you begin to explore your core driving forces you can harness them to focus on building the right goals. At the end of the day, running after goals is all about love. We prioritize the things that we love the most. If your heart is invested in something, if you love it a lot, you’ll make it a priority with your calendar and your credit card.

Think about it, why do new parents sacrifice precious sleep for small, helpless humans? Because they love their baby son or daughter more than their own comfort and they are committed to caring for the little person even above their own well-being.  Or think about advancing your career. We all know people who’ve endured long-hours or intensive training to achieve a promotion or earn a credential. Why? Because the reward was greater than the cost.

On the flip side, do you have a “friend” who regularly loves catching up on shows more than consistently going to the gym? Your “friend’s” problem isn’t about getting a bit of down-time, the problem is a stronger love for the comfort of a comfy couch and tasty snacks than the energy and self-confidence that comes with staying active and healthy. The same thing holds true for your conscientious, over-committed coworker who can’t say no to extra assignments at work even at the expense of family involvement. Why? Because the love for affirmation outweighs the desire for a healthy family legacy. We all have aspirations that we really want to invest in but our efforts get diminished because there is something else that we love more. Forward motion is blocked until we reorient our desires.

This might seem radical to you. How could there be anything wrong with catching movie, or becoming recognized as the reliable person who gets things done? You’re right. Sort of. These things aren’t bad in and of themselves. The danger is when we love the wrong things too much—when we consistently prioritize good things over the best things—to the point that our misaligned affections begin to hurt ourselves and other people.

OK, are you being honest with yourself about what you really love? Are your motives pure? If the answer is yes, then you’re ready to start pointing yourself in the right direction and harnessing your energy. We’ll go deeper in part 2 of The Heart of Winning Goals.


Dr. Daniel Hallak is the CCO of WiLD Leaders Inc. a firm focused on whole and intentional leader development through the WiLD Toolkit, a scalable platform of 10 sequential assessment tools and personalized feedback reports that provide comprehensive and intentional development plans. He is also adjunct faculty at Seattle Pacific University in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Business.



What are  you waiting for…the clock is ticking and the early registration deadline is right around the corner. You only have between now and January 31, 2019.  Come and learn directly from Dr. Daniel Hallak and Dr. Rob McKenna as they team up for an exciting leadership workshop –  day one of the conference!

So, register NOW for The Outcomes Conference 2019! Best pricing for the ultimate training experience of the year.


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