Aiming Beyond the Target|
by Elroy Carter
Most full-contact martial artists, including boxers, karateka and others,
know that when they strike a target, they do not aim at the surface of the
target, but, rather, several inches behind the target. The boxer does not
aim for the chin, but goes for the back of the opponent's head and
(incidentally) smacks the jaw on the way through. When breaking those big
slabs of concrete, the martial artist does not hit the surface of the
concrete, but aims for the floor or air behind it. The follow-through
ensures that the target is hit, and hit effectively, because when you aim
beyond the target, the target itself is hit as a matter of course.
I have recently begun to apply this mode of thinking to the goal-setting
process. Now, most people say that to set an outcome effectively, you must
be as specific and definite as possible. That way you will know what
target you are going to hit. The thing is, I have found that by doing
this, my efforts sometimes stop just short of getting my goal in its
entirety, or getting a taste of the outcome, but no more. In other words,
I have been aiming at the surface of the target.
What would happen if you were to take whatever goals you happened to have,
and ask yourself, "What's something even better that I could go for? What
is an even juicier outcome than this? What other things could happen,
beyond what I have originally desired? When I get this outcome, what kinds
of great side benefits will I get from it?"
Asking these kinds of questions not only ramps up your motivation, but also
flushes out any limiting beliefs about your ability/deservingness to
get/have this outcome, as well as any ecological considerations you may not
have known until now.
Say you had a specific sales target of $100,000 per month. What if you
raised the bar yourself, and made $120,000 the new standard to which you
hold yourself? $150,000?
What if you wanted to get someone's phone number? How much more inspiring
does it feel to make your new standard "to make this person feel utterly
wonderful to be with me, to ensure that I totally fascinate and attract
this person to me, so that they feel irresistibly drawn to me, and dream
about me with glorious passion"?
Or how about if you wanted to get good enough grades to enter a certain
course you wish to take? Does it feel better to move beyond that surface
concept and think about how you can become one of the top students in that
course, and have the admiration of the lecturers and other students? What
would it feel like to have other students come to you, because you are
the person who studies most effectively, comprehends the subject matter the
best, and can explain it perhaps even better than the lecturer? When you
look at the marks posted on the notice boards, does it feel good to see the
highest mark next to your name, knowing that you were the one who put in
all the effort, and have fully learned everything you needed to make that
Pretty neat, huh? By aiming for something beyond what you originally
wanted, you are virtually guaranteed to meet the primary objective.
Another application of Aiming is to think about your meta-outcomes, the
"thing that getting your desire will get for you." A person who wants to
make zillions in the stock market could be doing it for the fame; maybe
they want to be the next Warren Buffett. They could be doing it for the
ability to go anywhere and do virtually anything, the heightened levels of
freedom that large material wealth can confer. What will having your goal
do for you? Keep asking this question, going up further and further until
you reach a large-chunk "fluff word" like freedom or happiness or
security or even a combination of those.
Stop for a moment and begin to imagine, with as full an internal experience
as you can, just what it would be like to have that meta-outcome fulfilled.
To have the freedom, the happiness, the satisfaction you really desire.
Feels fantastic, doesn't it? Let that feeling seep back down through the
list of meta-outcomes that you've made, until it gets back to your
original, suffusing it with the high-level outcome that you really want.
Let THAT power your actions as you continue into your future.
You may also find it helpful to begin to find ways to get those high-level
meta-outcomes into your life, in as many ways and places as you can. Did
you discover that you want to be more creative? What are some ways that
you can use, starting now, to make different areas of your life more
creative? What can you do more creatively? Or if you wanted more
recognition, and the meta-outcome of that was to "feel as if you'd
accomplished something," well, what if you have? How does it feel to
truly accomplish something, to have the acknowledgment of others? What
lies beyond that?
As you continue to spread your meta-outcomes (which may indeed be values)
into your life, you'll be satisfying yourself at much deeper levels, in
rapport and congruence with who you are and what you want.
Something to consider:
I was driving to work, as I always do, and that morning I was in that
robotic daze that often accompanies such things. I was watching the car in
front of me about to turn into the next street, and I continued along,
assuming that it would turn before I got to the intersection. When I
realized that that car had stopped (which roughly coincided with my
slamming on the brakes to narrowly miss its bumper), I realized that there
were some people crossing the other road, and the car in front of me had
stopped to let them through.
After I had passed, I shook myself out of my robotic sleep and asked
myself, "What's the lesson here?" The immediate answer was, "Look ahead to
see why something is happening." I then realized that this could be
applied on a much greater scale than merely driving, although driving
became the teaching metaphor. To aim beyond the target, you need to be
able to perceive WHAT IS beyond the target. I'll tell you, though, it took
another couple of weeks of driving to get this lesson into me, at least in
the driving arena. ;-)
I wonder how many ways we can perceive what lies
beyond the immediate situation, how many things we can find?
What are you aiming for, and what lies beyond?