Consider the squirrel.
One day as I was driving to work a squirrel ran out in front of me. He was quite a ways ahead of me but I could see him clearly. He was about halfway across the street when he stopped and stood up on his back legs and looked at me. As I got closer he got down on his back legs and did that stutter step they do, going back and forth in the middle of the street. You know what happened next. He didn’t move and I clipped him. I saw his little body lying in the street in the rear view mirror.
I muttered under my breath, stupid squirrel. Does this story from “Consider the Squirrel” by Bobby Coleman and John Carter sound familiar?
But what if we turn the story upside down? Consider the squirrel. He set out with a goal, boldly and quickly. He was excited. But when he came across an obstacle like a car coming at him down the road he stopped. He questioned himself. He second guessed himself. He turned back to the comfort and safety of the familiar side of the road. It was a dangerous decision.
How many times have we done that? We set out boldly to achieve some goal. We have plans and ideas. But when faced with obstacles we second guess ourselves and retreat to the safe side of the street. Our retreats do not always have such fatal results. But every time we retreat we get further and further from our goal.
This is not uncommon. Even the smartest, best prepared people find themselves a squirrel now and again.
In the book, What they Don’t teach you in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack describes a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. Students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans, 13 percent had goals but not in writing and 84 percent had no specific goals at all.
What do you think happened ten years later? These are really smart people, right? You would think their background and education would prepare them to be solid leaders. They could certainly get across the road safely without getting hit like that squirrel. The 13 percent of the class that had goals earned on average twice as much as the 84 percent had no specific goals at the 84% without specific goals. The three percent with written goals earned on average ten times as much as the other 97%!
Consider the squirrel. Without specific, written goals you will most likely find yourself vacillating in the middle of the street opting to retreat in face of obstacles.
Let us choose not to be a squirrel. I challenge everyone today to write down one thing we would like to accomplish or change but quit before finishing. Then write down what you plan to do to finally finish that goal.