Since my junior year in college, I wanted to be a CEO. I was ecstatic when my Myers-Briggs test said that it was a job that would suit my profile (I was an ENTJ). “See?” I thought. “It’s destiny!” I didn’t want the job for the title. I wanted everything the job promised: having big ideas and making them happen; responsibility; being able to influence the course of an organization; building a strategy; and most importantly, being in charge. I wanted all the things a 19-year-old knows about being a CEO. While I have matured, I actually still want to lead a large company.
I’m very open to sharing my goals and aspirations. And actually, sometimes I can’t stop myself. I am passionate and driven, and as a result, I get excited about what I’m doing. I was told by a leader that I shouldn’t tell people that I want to be a CEO: it might make them feel bad since they don’t have the same aspirations as me. I get what he was saying. It’s tough looking at other people and seeing what they are accomplishing; and if you aren’t where you planned to be at this point in your life (I’m certainly not), it can cause some feelings of depression. But then I realized, that’s not my problem. I’m not sharing my goals out of pride or with haughtiness. There are three types of reactions I receive when I share my goals:
Apathy. People couldn’t care less what my goals are. I find most people are focused on their own lives and really don’t care what my (or your) goals are. They have their own goals, own challenges, and own lives to live.
Feeling bad about themselves. These people compare themselves to everyone else. I like the quote, “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reel.” Another way to say it is, “Don’t compare your beginning to other people’s middle.” People in this category need to increase their self-confidence. Everyone has talents and strengths, and it’s important we appreciate our gifts. If you don’t like something, work to accept it or change it. There will always be people who are more talented; self-comparison just leads to losing.
Inspiration. The last group of people get inspired by my big goals. I can’t tell you how many people have seen me striving for my goals and have decided to set some of their own. Two people I know said I inspired them to go back to school. Someone else decided to take a risk in his career. And it’s not that I’m doing anything amazing! These people realize that I’m just a regular person, and if I can set and work towards goals, so can they. This makes it worth sharing your goals!
So, if you want to be a CEO, or the president of a country, or a famous musician, or whatever your lofty goal might be, don’t be afraid to share it! Here’s what sharing your goal does:
Motivates you. Talking about what you want to achieve makes it real. When you have to verbalize it to someone else, suddenly you feel more committed to making it happen. Your excitement (and maybe a little fear) increases as you hear yourself speak your goals. Words have power. Share your ideas.
Gives you an opportunity to refine it. When you talk about it, people can ask questions. Dialogue can help you think about things you hadn’t considered, and you can view your goal from a different perspective. This can make your goal stronger. Remember, iron sharpens iron, but iron doesn’t self-sharpen; it takes more than one piece.
Opens doors to mentors and others who can support you. When people know what you are out to achieve, they can connect you with people in their network who have seen success in your goal or a similar goal, or with people who have complementary goals. People can offer advice on what they have experienced. Or they can just be your cheerleader. But if those around you don’t know your goals, they may have no idea they have the power to propel you forward.
And, as I already mentioned, you can inspire others. People are often watching you (in a non-creepy way) and want a role model. Be a role model.
How about you? Do you find that people are more inspired or put off when you share your goals?
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Jana Axline is Chief Project Officer at Project Genetics and the author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings, she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Project Genetics.