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Why Aggressive Goals and Supportive Failure Are the Keys to Success

Why Aggressive Goals and Supportive Failure Are the Keys to Success

Renato Agrella is the founder of Acerca Consulting and helps clients leverage marketing and sales initiatives to fuel growth.

In a conversation with my 14-year-old son, we discussed his approach to setting goals.  While I emphasized the importance of aiming high, he expressed a different perspective. It became clear that his hesitation stemmed from a fear of falling short. This sparked a realization in me – how do I create systems that support not just success but also the learning that comes from setbacks in business? As someone who's built a few businesses from the ground up, I can tell you one thing for sure:  ambitious goals are the fuel that propels an organization forward.  They push us beyond our comfort zones, ignite creativity, and keep us laser-focused on achieving something truly remarkable.  But here's the secret sauce – aggressive goals need to be paired with a culture that embraces, even celebrates, "supported failure."

Let's face it, aiming high means there's a good chance you won't hit the bullseye every single time.  But that shouldn't be a cause for discouragement.  In fact, it's an opportunity for immense learning and growth, both for individual employees and the company as a whole.

The Goal Part

Here's why setting aggressive goals and fostering a supportive environment for "failing forward" is the winning combination for any business:

  1. Stretching Your Limits:  When we set goals that feel a little scary, a little out of reach, we tap into a powerful wellspring of motivation.  We become more resourceful, experiment with new approaches, and push ourselves to develop new skills.  This constant state of "reaching" leads to significant personal and professional growth.
  2. Innovation Unleashed:  Aggressive goals force us to think outside the box.  The "business as usual" approach won't cut it when you're aiming for something truly groundbreaking.  This fosters an environment of innovation and creative problem-solving, leading to solutions you might not have considered otherwise.
  3. Aligning the Team:  When a clear, ambitious goal is set, everyone in the company has a shared target to strive for.  This creates a sense of unity and purpose, fostering collaboration and teamwork as employees work together to achieve something bigger than themselves.

The Support Part

Let's be honest, failure is inevitable.  But it doesn't have to be a dead end.  Here's how to create a culture that uses "supported failure" as a steppingstone to success:

  1. Open Communication is Key:  Encourage open and honest communication about challenges and roadblocks.  Create a safe space for employees to voice concerns and discuss potential pitfalls before they become major setbacks.
  2. Focus on Learning, Not Blame:  Shift the focus from punishment for missing a target to learning from the experience.  Conduct post-mortems that analyze what went wrong and how to avoid it in the future.
  3. Celebrate the Attempt:  Recognize and appreciate the effort and dedication that went into reaching for a challenging goal.  Highlight the valuable lessons learned, even if the desired outcome wasn't achieved.
  4. Provide Resources and Support:  Equip your employees with the tools and resources they need to succeed.  This could include training programs, mentorship opportunities, or access to subject matter experts.

By fostering a culture of aggressive goal setting and supported failure, you're essentially cultivating a growth mindset within your company.  This mindset, popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck,  believes that intelligence and talent are not fixed traits but rather capabilities that can be developed through hard work and learning.

In a growth mindset environment, employees see setbacks as opportunities to improve, not limitations.   They are more likely to embrace challenges, persevere through difficulties, and ultimately achieve greater success.

Aggressive goals + Supportive Failure = A Culture of Continuous Improvement

This powerful combination creates an organization that is constantly learning, adapting, and innovating.  Your employees become highly skilled and adaptable, ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way.  This translates into a company that is always pushing boundaries, exceeding expectations, and leaving the competition in the dust.

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