Author and speaker Micheal Burt says "everybody needs a coach in life." For the past 22 years, my coach has been Zig Ziglar. My coach passed away this week at age 86. Zig was a coach to millions of people worldwide. I discovered Zig Ziglar in 1990 when I was struggling to make a career of life insurance sales and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. While Zig was known as a motivational speaker he was truly a teacher. His books and seminars were not "pump up" fluff but rather provided a framework for implementing meaningful change and improvement. Zig Ziglar's influence molded my attitude and determination to accomplish all that I have done professionally.
My tribute to Zig Ziglar will not be some long essay about how he has changed me life, although I could easily do that. Instead, I will share with you one nugget from Zig's teachings that have relevance to individuals and organizations: the importance of setting goals. As we enter the last month of 2012 and prepare to hit the ground running in January to take on a new year, now is a good time to consider the role setting goals can have in making 2013 successful for you and your organization.
One of Zig Ziglar's well known quotes on this topic is "a goal properly set is partially achieved." When we have sound goals, we are on the road to achieving them if for no other reason we understand what it is we are trying to achieve. After all, as Zig asked "how can you hit a target that you do not have?"
To address the "properly set" qualifier when setting goals, assess whether your goals SMAC. Are they:
I was saddened to learn of Zig's passing this week, but I take comfort in two things. One, his impact will be felt for a long time beyond his 86 years on earth. Two, while he is no longer serving us with his gifts he has moved on to take a seat in the "sales meeting for the ages," a reward he spent most of his life earning. See you at the top, Mr. Ziglar.
- Specific - Stating a goal of "5% increase in sales" is preferred to "increasing sales"
- Measurable - If a goal is specific it tends to make it measurable so that it can be determined if the goal was attained
- Achievable - If a goal is unrealistic it can demotivate, not exactly the idea in mind when setting goals
- Challenging - In addition to giving direction, goals should force people and organizations to "stretch" in order to grow. Even if a goal is not attained, the process of pursuing it should result in improvement.