Pulpit Rock – 2,000 feet above the Ryfylke fjord in Norway. (This image is not part of the original post).
Fifty feet up the trail and already I knew things were going to be rough. My dad turned to me and said, “Wow, I didn’t think I’d be out of breath this quickly. I need to stop for a minute.”
We were about one minute in to a 2.5 mile hike up the very steep, varying terrain to Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock, which juts out 2,000 feet above the Ryfylke fjord in Norway.
At 77 years old, with diabetes and a growing balance problem, this was not going to be a walk in the park for my dad.
Questioning his judgment in undertaking the challenge, but eager to help him accomplish something I knew he really wanted, I quickly offered my help.
I could push or pull him up the large stones that formed a kind of staircase nearly straight up the parts of the mountain. I would do whatever I could to get him up there.
Then, he said something that marked the entire experience right from the beginning.
“No, I don’t want help. I want to do it myself.”
At that moment, something changed. Like a light switch being flipped, I went from wanting to help and support him, to caring a little less about whether or not he made it all the way to the top, the ultimate goal.
Now, of course it was my dad so I was not going to let him fail, but it got me thinking about the goals we set in our organisations and how we go about achieving them.
‘Me’ goals vs. ‘We’ goals
It seems that there are two types of goals − “Me Goals” and “We Goals”.
“Me Goals” are about accomplishing something by ourselves, for ourselves.
“We Goals” are all about working together with others that we need to rely on, to accomplish something that is impactful and fulfilling to all of us as a collective.
With a “Me Goal”, the determination and drive may be intense and very real, and if we apply ourselves correctly, we will even achieve that goal. But at what cost?
If we are honest with ourselves, we cannot achieve anything great alone.
Is it really an individual effort?
Going back to my dad’s case, simply declaring that he was going to do it by himself, did not stop me from catching him more times than I can remember, just so he would not fall backwards onto the sharp rocks behind him.
It did not stop me from physically supporting him the entire way down the mountain and from picking him up each time he fell onto his hands and knees because his legs gave way.
How often do we think we are “doing it myself” when we actually have others supporting us?
Truth be told, others may only be supporting us because it is their job, which only makes it feel even worse.
Using others to accomplish a selfish goal (especially as a leader) can cause mistrust and lack of loyalty, if not active disengagement and undermining.
A “We Goal” on the other hand, helps to create a strong “Circle of Safety” as it is something we are all inspired by and energised to reach together.
I’ll go back to the example that inspired this story. How cool would it have been for my dad to say, “Son, this is my last trip to Norway. It’s the land of my forefathers and a place that means a lot to me.
“One of the things on my bucket list is making this climb and I’m so glad we’re doing it together.
“Now, I’m not as strong as I used to be, so I’m going to need your help. What do you say?”
When we set “We Goals’”and then provide context, meaning and purpose to them, we inspire others to join us, to help us no matter what the cost, to sacrifice themselves for a shared vision.
As a result, the reward gained will be worth much more than the achievement of the goal itself − the bond, the relationship, and the foundation that has been strengthened in preparation for the next climb.
Comment or write to us at email@example.com. For more Brain Bulletin articles, click here.
Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com.
David Mead is a contributor for Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’ blog. He aims to inspire people to do what inspires them – to help build a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every single day inspired to go to work and return home at the end of the day fulfilled. You can read more inspirational articles by Simon Sinek and his team at the website below.