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The Relative Importance Of Outcomes By Dr. Rob McKenna 

The Motivation that Drives Outcomes

Are you motivated by outcomes? What’s your daily motivation to get up in the morning, put on your clothes, and head to work? Are you motivated because of what it will get you? Do you do what you do at the beginning and end of the day because it will lead you or others to something great? Is that what comes to mind first when you think of why you work, why you lead, and why you are here?

One of my greatest motivators is a big, idealistic dream of what could be. It is often a dream of changing the world in some large and significant way. But if those dreams become my reason for leading and working, I come into a dangerous place because there is also, by default, the potential for my ego to get closely attached to accomplishing those dreams.

Why not? Motivation by outcomes is the focus in the world surrounding many of us.


You get to choose your goals, which are quite noble for some. I want an effective team, increased profitability, a healthy organization, a safe and stable financial future for my family, and at the same time, I want to feel like I am contributing and changing the world.

Do you get up and go to work in the morning for the sake of these results, or is it something else?

The apostle Paul uses some interesting words in Philippians chapter 2.

Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,

Philippians 2:9

After calling us to an attitude modeled after the humility, obedience, and self-sacrifice of Jesus, he writes, “Therefore,” God exalted Jesus to the highest place. This passage of Scripture does not say that Jesus Christ emptied Himself and died on the cross “so that” God would exalt Him. His sacrifice wouldn’t have been much of a sacrifice if Jesus had taken the step of self-sacrifice for the sake of being exalted. But those aren’t the words Paul uses. Jesus was motivated out of love. His sacrifice was necessary, prophesied, chosen for the sake of love, done out of obedience, and not for the sake of exaltation or the outcomes for Himself. 


In our daily work as leaders, outcomes are the culturally acceptable pursuit and often the reason for our existence. We are surrounded by goals, targets, metrics, achievements, income statements, sales quotas, performance goals, desired end states, bottom lines, worries, and even failures that constantly remind us that goals and achievements are the point. In our busy world, we often work and work hard for the sake of outcomes. 


Why is it challenging to put outcomes aside, even for a moment?

Part of the reason is that achieving outcomes indicates survival, a fulfilling life, and sustainability. I once asked a group of executives whether or not God cared if their organization survived. It was an interesting question, for sure. I was trying to get them to consider whether organizational life is about survival. Do we work so that our organizations will survive? Their response interested me because they knew I was teaching at a Christian university then. They said, “Well, Dr. McKenna, does God care if your university survives?”

To be honest, I still cannot answer that question. But Christ’s example calls our very survival into question.

Is the point of your organizational life and your leadership survival? Is the point of your life to ensure that your children turn out a certain way, get the best grades, get into the best colleges, and have the most fulfilling life possible? So, you serve others so that your life will be fulfilling? Do you serve because it feels good?


Jesus emptied Himself of His power as God to the point of death for you and me, and therefore God exalted Him. The personal achievement of exaltation wasn’t the point. It couldn’t be the point. If we are called to this same attitude, what do we do with all those outcomes we pursue every day?

We shouldn’t beat ourselves up for all the goals we’re setting and achieving, but we should put them in perspective. Are you doing what you are doing for the sake of you or others getting something? Or are you doing what you are doing to obey God’s calling on your life?


God will indeed exalt you for your willingness to put Him first every day of your life, but that exaltation isn’t the point. I try to remind myself daily that it is all because of Him and for His sake that anything gets done. What are the goals you put first in your life, even the goals for other people or your organization?What if you had to let those goals go today, right now?

Look at your schedule for today and all you are supposed to accomplish.

If you took the risk to believe that God’s agenda was more important than your agenda, how would that impact those things on your schedule? 


Dr. Rob McKenna, is the CEO and Founder of WiLD Leaders, Inc.  Named one of the top 30 I-O Psychologists alive today, Dr. McKenna is passionate about developing leaders and transforming the way we see the people in our organizations.





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