We spoke for some time. He is a father of two and was particularly steamed up about a couple of child development issues.
Primarily, he strongly resents (his and all) children being told “you can be anything you want to be.” Basically, he believes this is just not true.
I’m not arguing if he is right or wrong, but shouldn’t we wonder why such a high achiever would feel so strongly on this point? And, this same concern applies equally to anyone setting lofty goals.
It’s particularly poignant when you consider his resume and background:
– Child of immigrants with well-defined genetic background from a notably assertive culture.
– An impressive array of top amateur personal and team-level accomplishments as a teenager at national, international and world level.
– Prominent winner of the most prestigious world-wide team event in his sport; accomplished with a storied franchise at a professional level.
– Someone who overcame extraordinary and unusual physical setbacks.
– Currently still a top professional and a well-respected household name in his sport.
Clearly, these are impressive credentials for any (predictably) high achiever.
He is also a doting and thoughtful father who truly wants the best for his children and yet definitely resents them being misled or potentially set up for disappointment.
During discussion it became clear his primary concern is that High Expectations should be (R A A):
– Realistic (for the individual concerned), R
– Achievable (by hard work, practice and skill development), A
– Available (in viable enough numbers to make the goal practical), A
For Example: There would be no point EITHER (say) being a 6’ 5” wannabe Olympic Gymnast, OR (say) needing to pursue a PhD. for any advancement in a required field when struggling with grades in High School, OR (say) being one in 1 million individuals maniacally desiring a single Presidency. In all such cases there will be probably be disappointment; and they all fail the respective R, A, A criteria.
Additionally, recent studies have shown that high achievers do all have one thing in common: In the right PLACE at the right TIME. Some even call this an element of chance or luck.
Now all this doesn’t mean people can’t have lofty goals or reach for high achievement. Nor should anyone settle for less than they might accomplish.
This particular athlete’s fundamental issue revolves around fear (for his children) of them dedicating their life-time to a goal, achieving much yet still falling short of what ultimately proves to be an overly ambitious objective. This could easily doom almost anybody to an undeserved and lasting sense of failure.
It’s true that many great achievements would not have been accomplished without great outreach. I agree. Great things are often fueled by someone shooting for the stars.
Also, one person’s over-reach is an essential incentive and fundamental motivator for another.
But if your goal is to ultimately instill a sense of self-worth, accomplishment and meaning in others, then maybe tempering people’s goals with Realism, Achievability and Availability should be considered?
Sometimes enlarging and evolving objectives as you proceed keeps the momentum, desire and struggle in better perspective. Yet in some cases you really must just aim for the horizon and beyond or have little chance of ultimate success, even at the outset.
Certainly, everyone deserves to accomplish all they might and can.
But occasionally a guiding hand helps people realize their potential while avoiding any unnecessary sense of failure.
Do you have colleagues, friends or workers who maybe even need to set their targets higher? Then help them aspire to more.
Have children who might go far? Then set their targets appropriately high; plan for great achievement, but make certain those interim results are routinely celebrated, valued and acknowledged all along the way.