The Unsung Power of Establishing Audacious Goals (Even if You Fail)
How failure to achieve a challenging goal led to life-changing success.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Michel Kripalani is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in San Diego, and president and CEO of Oceanhouse Media, a premier publisher of award-winning children's books and personal development apps that inspire, uplift and educate. Last year, Michel set a huge 2017 goal which he failed to achieve. Here's what he shared about the amazing events that resulted:
Just after my 49th birthday, I committed to writing a book ... before I turned 50. I was simultaneously excited and completely overwhelmed. I've wanted to write a book for decades. And yet, I never seemed to find the time, the focus or even the topic. This time, I told myself, would be different.
The initial elation of believing that I'd write a book felt great. Then, the excitement began to fade. Reality set in, and I knew that my creativity and productivity were not moving at the pace required to finish a book before turning 50.
As often happens, the project morphed. I dug deeper, realizing that my root desire was to author "something of significance." A book seemed like the obvious plan. As I re-framed my goal, without allowing myself off the hook of doing the hard work, I stumbled upon what would become one of the most important projects of my life.
I am an app developer by trade. I live in the world of interactive media and creativity. It dawned on me that anyone can write a book, but not everyone can write an app. So, why not focus my talents on a truly unique project?
I believe that success is a direct result of action. And, action is a direct result of having the right mindset each day. So, I sketched out an app that would guide people toward the right mindset for success at the start of each day.
The most challenging piece was that, in order for the app to be truly authentic, it required that I expose my own thoughts and beliefs to the world. To do so, I needed to become vulnerable. At numerous points along the way, I became scared and believed that I was opening myself up too much or putting too much out there. Yet, I persisted.
The writing and development process was uncomfortable, awkward and challenging. Halfway through, I had an even deeper revelation. I realized that I was not pressing on for my ego or simply to be a published author. It hit me like a ton of bricks: I had to complete the project as a legacy for my family. I had stumbled upon a way to provide daily coaching, in my own voice, for my two daughters, ages 7 and 9, for the rest of their liveseven if I were to die tomorrow. The very thought that I could coach someone forever stopped me in my tracks.
Death, and the delicate nature of life, is a major theme for our family. Six years ago, my wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The ensuing challenges have changed the way that we choose to face each day. She is doing great, and we believe her tumor is benign. However, we recognize that every day is precious and must be lived "full-out." I no longer take for granted that I will wake up tomorrow. And when I set a goal of writing a book within a year, for example, I know that I must follow through. Tomorrow is never a guarantee.
The week of my 50th birthday, "Mindset for Success" was complete. The app is a collection of my thoughts and revelations on how to live a successful life. In five minutes each day, it provides users with guidance, insights and questions on a few key focus areas. I believe that listening each day will move the user toward success in their own life. The app is my actual voice, my words and a window into my inner thoughts.
I originally thought that was how this story would end, but it turns out it's just the beginning. Six weeks after releasing the app, I had the opportunity to take an early-morning walk with my longtime hero, Marshall Goldsmith, the world-renown executive coach and prolific author. We walked and chatted. He told me about several books in development and described a recent conference where he spoke before 17,000 people. He explained what it's like to coach CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Then, he casually asked what I've been up to.
I took a deep breath and told him about "Mindset for Success." While my app is in a different league than his successes, I explained its importance as my legacy piece. He was intrigued. For the next hour, we discussed apps and how they reach an audience in ways that books simply cannot. I felt that I opened an intriguing, unfamiliar world to him.
Out of the blue, he turned to me and said, "I want one."
"One what?" I asked.
"An app, just like yours. I want you to build it, but I want to use my own voice." I was stunned.
He continued, "How soon can we start? Tuesday?" And, just like that, the trajectory of my life changed. And as if that wasn't enough, I've been invited to participate in Marshall's "100 Coaches" program. I am honored, excited and a bit overwhelmed.
Steve Jobs famously stated that the dots of our lives can only be connected in reverse. I agree. However, I would add that not all dots are created equal. I have found that anytime that I take a big risk, a giant leap or set a challenging goal for myself, I create a dot on the fabric of my life with more significance than others.
The connections come after the fact and can't be predicted. However, I realize that I can do my best to produce "significant" dots through my own thoughts, effort and actions. Setting challenging goals is paramount. Allowing those goals to morph can be extremely valuable. Persevering to the end is the key.