Pursue What Matters
Episode 89: What’s Your Moonshot? Planning for 2021 Pt. 1
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Maybe you’ve heard that question before. But Seth Godin asks a much more interesting question. What would you do even if you knew you would fail?
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:15
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So tell me, what is your big dream? What is your moonshot? When Kennedy declared that we would put a man on the moon, most people did not believe it. But here is the thing that is so interesting to me. Especially the people at NASA, who knew exactly how difficult it would be to put a man on the moon, they did not believe what Kennedy had declared they could not believe his moonshot. And of course, they would know like, they knew exactly how difficult it would be. And in fact, they didn’t even know how difficult it would be. The technology required did not exist. The folks at NASA knew better than anyone how daunting that goal was. And yet there is something incredibly compelling about putting a mark in the ground, whether it is the moon or somewhere else. And asserting we are going to do something, there is a way that the universe conspires to make it happen. And so today starts a three part series. So welcome to the new year, right, a three part series, where we are going to take a look at your goals, your dreams. And today in part one, we are focused on what is your moonshot? And I think that question from Seth Godin is such an important one, because it helps us to frame what we really care about, what would you do, even if you knew you would fail, because it shows you what you care about, it tells you what is personally compelling to you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:41
And so with this podcast with the three part series, so today’s part one, next week is part two, and in a couple weeks, is part three, I will have a great resource for you. That includes you know, components from all three parts, about helping you to really get clear on what is your moonshot and really help you to take a look at your fears, and to help you make it happen. And so today, I really want to introduce you just a little bit to this three part series on goal pursuit.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:21
So with part one, of course it is what’s your moonshot? So what is it that keeps you awake at night? What’s your dream? And part two, is we are going to focus on what stalls your launch progress, what gets in the way of your progress. And that’s, you know, there are some big ones that get in the way for most of us. And so we want to dig into the details of that, and help you understand that a little bit more. So it doesn’t stall your launch. And then Part Three is, you know, it’s time to take off, let’s get going on your goals because they’re important. And so that’s what we’re gonna focus on with this three part series. And so let’s, let’s get going on that with part one here.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:10
What’s your moonshot? And of course, every week with a podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters, and to strengthen your confidence to lead. I try to do that in one of three ways to help you lead with clarity to help you lead with curiosity, and to help you lead a community and really when we think about your moonshot, it’s all about leading with clarity and leading with curiosity. So when I think about your moonshot, it’s that dream. It’s that big goal that you know, you don’t know if it’s possible. You know, there can be a lot of fear around a moonshot goal. But it feels really important. There’s a sense of purpose around that goal. And so often, you know, we can have a fear around that. But we can also have clarity around that. Because it’s where we find a sense of purpose. And so we want you, we want you to be able to move out of fear and in to clarity and into purpose. And it requires us to be curious, it requires us to develop our self awareness. And so it’s also about curiosity.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:26
And so that’s what we are going to, hopefully help you with today. So, you know, do you have a great idea, you might just have a great idea. So allow yourself to dream, allow yourself to imagine, but more than that, be willing to act, be willing to take action. So you may not hit the moon. In fact, you know, most certainly you will not very few of us are successful on our big goals, especially the first time out. But you will make it much further than you would have by playing it small. And that’s really one of the most important points, when it comes to stretch goals and when it comes to goal pursuit. When it comes to Moonshots, if you don’t, if you don’t set the goal, if you don’t try, you’re definitely not going to grow. And so, you know, one of the things that I want to talk about for just a couple of minutes is this idea that many of the greatest entrepreneurs come from different fields, right. And so there is this belief that you have to have this deep experience in order to be successful. And the research actually does not bear that out. And what we know is that when you, when you have a diverse set of experiences, you’re able to integrate across domains, and you’re able to bring in a fresh perspective. And so, you know, if we think about Jeff Bezos, who is, of course, the founder, and CEO, I believe he’s still the CEO of Amazon, right, he has, you know, been wildly successful in retail, but his background is actually in finance. And he wrote his business plan for Amazon, on a cross country drive where like, he was he like, quit his job, I think, and was moving cross country and basically wrote the business plan on the drive out. And so, you know, he does not have a background, he did not have background in retail at all, but his background was in finance. And then when we think about the founder of Netflix, so that is Reed Hastings.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:12
So we think about Netflix is entertainment. And that is not what his background was, was in. He, first of all, he was rejected from his first choice when he did a master’s degree, but his background is in computer science. And so, you know, the idea here is that thinking like an outsider can be helpful. And looking at a problem from a different perspective, can actually serve you very well. And this is, this is the point that sometimes not not understanding all of the challenges that you’re facing, can actually serve you very well, because it doesn’t hamper you. And it doesn’t crush your soul. And you just right. Like sometimes, sometimes blind optimism is a pretty good thing. And so when we think about having a great idea, and entrepreneurship, especially, right, it can be very daunting. And sometimes it’s better just to, you know, put your head down and get to work. Because of course, it is challenging. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. And and so many of us are our own best critics, and we stop ourselves from ever going after our biggest dreams because we say like Who am I to be successful? And I always whenever I hear that critic, whether it’s in my own head, or whether that is with individuals that I’m working with, the quote that comes to mind is from Marianne Williamson, and it is a really powerful quote. And this is what she had to say.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:17
So she said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be, you are a child of God, your playing small does not serve the world, there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:53
I love that. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. And think about that for you in your own life. When you have seen others do incredible things. It inspires you. Right? When Kennedy said, we are going to put a man on the moon, what did it do? it inspired a generation. And what happened, we put a man on the moon, within a decade, something that no one thought was possible. And it happened. And it’s pretty incredible. And so, you know, the first challenge is to step out of your own self limiting beliefs. And if you’re like most of us, you have plenty of those. And so you’ve got to allow yourself to dream and to imagine, but more than that, to take action. And it’s okay, if you don’t hit the moon. That’s not the point, necessarily. The point is to take action. Because, you know, if you’re willing to set goals, and if you’re willing to take action, I promise you this, you will fail up, you will fail forward. And that is how growth happens. So as we think about, you know, the the pieces that we want to pay attention to here in part one, with what’s your moonshot? And there are, there are four questions that I have for you. Okay, so the first question, and these will all be in the resource that I include. So I hope that you take some time and download the resource.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:58
And so the first question that I have for you is, what’s your big goal? So, you know, what would you do if you were not scared? Right, so that was that first question. But I think the more helpful question, and this comes from Seth Godin is, what would you do even if you were scared? Because this is, this question is more helpful, because it helps you know, what you care deeply about? You know, like, despite your fear, it would help you to step on a stage and speak about something that you’re passionate about. Despite your fear, it would help you to start a business because you’re really passionate about serving others. And so, you know, what, as you think about your big goal, what would you do if you weren’t scared? Because that’s easy. If we weren’t scared, we do lots of things. But what would you do even, even despite being scared?
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:01
And then this is from Elizabeth Gilbert, “what do you love doing so much, that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?” Right, that you just you feel so much passion about it, that success and failure just kind of fall away. So this is the other thing when we think about your big goal, if you know, it’s okay to be scared, and still create, then maybe you can still go after your big goals. Right. And this is what we learn from the Dare to Lead research is that the most courageous leaders are brave and scared at the same time. And that does not prevent them from leading and from leading really effectively. And so it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to have a really big goal and to go after it. Even when you don’t feel you know what you’re doing. And I would just say, join the club like, you’re in good company. Because that is that’s often what it feels like.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:09
So when it comes to big goals, there is so much uncertainty. And this is where most of us get stopped dead in our tracks, because we’re not willing to tolerate uncertainty. And so the individuals who are successful on big goals on moonshot goals are able to tolerate distress, they’re able to tolerate uncertainty. And so you’ve got, you’ve got to raise your distress tolerance level. So moonshot goals will always carry a high degree of uncertainty. It’s just the nature of the game. And it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go after the goal, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. It just means it’s a big goal, it just means there’s a high degree of uncertainty with it, it means you’re doing something that’s personally meaningful to you. But you’ve got to be able to tolerate the uncertainty, you’ve got to abandon the need for certainty, you’ve got to abandon the need for control, right control is such an illusion. And so you’ve got to, you’ve got to be able to let go of that, in order to pursue your goal.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:22
Okay, so that’s the first question, what’s your big goal? And then the second question, why does it matter? And this is where we really think about purpose. So why does your goal matter? Why is it important to you? What is its purpose? And so is the goal in keeping with your values? Is it consistent with your purpose and your meaning? Because if not, you know, you’re going to be out of alignment with your values. And so every time you’re working towards this moonshot goal, you’re going to be out of alignment in another area of your life. And so it’s so important that you are in alignment. And that happens, right? I mean, there have been goals in my life that have put me out of alignment with some of my other values. And that’s been a problem like it’s created tension is created static in my life. And and there have been times where ultimately, I’ve had to abandon a goal that I cared about, but it put me out of alignment with my values. And so you’ve got to do the work to identify why does it matter? And is it consistent with purpose?
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:35
And then to ask the question, as part of this second question, what is your intention behind your moonshot? Okay, so intention really matters. So is it to rake in piles and piles of cash? Is it to serve? Is it to contribute? So what, again, what is your purpose because intention really matters. And I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong per se, with, you know, with wanting to earn money or anything like that. But what does matter is that your, your goal is in alignment with your values and your purpose. Because otherwise you will, you’ll corrode from the inside out there. And it’s just like on the organizational level, you have an erosion of culture, when you have goals that are out of alignment with your organizational vision, and so intention does matter.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:36
Okay, so now let’s look at the third question. So the first question is, what’s your big goal? The second question is, why does it matter? And the third question is, who can you serve? So the best goals serve a purpose greater than yourself? So your moonshot does not have to serve a greater purpose than yourself. But this is what I would say, consider how it might, because that will make it more meaningful. Okay, that just takes it up a notch. So it doesn’t have to serve a greater purpose. But you know, it could be nice if it could. So when you improve yourself, how does this help you contribute to others? So you know, even if you have a goal, where it’s like, “you know what? I want to take better care of my health.” On the surface, you might say, like that, you know, what that goal is just for me, but honestly, how can that goal actually help you to, to be a better service to others or to contribute to others, right? And it’s, it might be because you have more energy and more vitality, and so even those goals that you see that seem to be focused on your own development, right, like they actually can be about contributing positively to others, and I’m not saying that, like, everything needs to be about serving others, but there are so many ways that when we improve ourselves, we actually also improve conditions for others, by virtue of how we carry ourselves in the world.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:19
And so an example of this is like, when I write consistently, I have a greater desire to write and share things that can hopefully help others based on, you know, what I have come to understand in my own life, in my professional work in my, in my personal life. And so even though I write mostly for myself, when I write consistently, it, you know, my hope is that it contributes meaningfully to others. And so that’s a way that hopefully, you know, a personal goal for me, can help to serve others. And so when we grow and develop ourselves, we can’t help but contribute to the well being of others. And so that’s, that’s a pretty cool thing. I also love this take on it by Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s just so funny. She said, “You’re not required to save the world with your creativity, your art not only doesn’t have to be original. In other words, it also doesn’t have to be important. For example, whenever anyone tells me that they want to write a book in order to help other people, I always think, Oh, please don’t, please don’t try to help me. I mean, it’s very kind of you to help people. But please don’t make it your sole creative motive, because we will feel the weight of your heavy intention, and it will put a strain upon our souls.” And I absolutely love that. And I’m like, amen. Because I have felt that when I have read things, from some folks, and I think her point here is a really great point, that creativity, which is what she’s talking about, is, is it is something that functions on curiosity. And so we don’t need to weigh that down with with this need to contribute to the world, right, that when you improve yourself, you will, you will be contributing meaningfully. And so you don’t need to weigh that down unnecessarily. And so I think she makes that point really, really well. With that, quote, oh, please don’t please don’t try to help me.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:45
I love that. Okay, so now the last question for you today, as we think about what’s your moonshot? So this is the question, how can you accomplish it? So these are the questions that I have for you, as you consider your moonshot. How can you set yourself up for success because of course, we want you to be successful. And here, I want just to I want to remind you that earlier, just a few weeks ago, in the book review, it was all about goal setting. And so I reviewed a great book by Michael Hyatt, about goal setting. And so if you want some specific help on, you know, setting up good goals that can really help you to be set up for success, that would be a really good book to review and a good podcast to review. So I will link to that in the show notes. But the question is, how can you set yourself up for success?
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:44
When you set up a moonshot goal, you play to win, instead of playing not to lose. And think about that, how many of us set up goals that are really designed, so that we are playing not to lose rather than playing to win. And so when we think about playing to win, we want you and listen up, because this might make you nervous, but we want you to take smart risks. And this includes embracing far fetched ideas as possible. So this comes from a great book, I will also link to this in the show notes. And this is the book think like a rocket scientist. And I think it’s a really great and fresh perspective. And so when we play to win, we learn to take smart risks.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:41
So you’ve got to do a risk assessment, but you’re not going to accomplish moonshot goals if you aren’t taking some risks. And so you’ve got to play to win rather than just playing not to lose. And so sometimes this means that you’ve got to embrace some far fetched ideas and you know what? That will probably make you uncomfortable, you’ve got to tolerate some uncertainty, you’ve got to be willing to fail. And so this is where smart risks are important because, you know, you want to mitigate your risk. And so, you know, if we think about the work of Adam Grant, I think it was Adam Grant who said, that you manage your risk, if you take a higher risk in one area, make sure you have lower risk in other areas. And that’s one of the ways that you can help manage your risk. And so moonshot thinking elevates your game, and helps you rise to new challenges. And so this is the important thing to keep in mind with moonshot goals is that with each challenge, you increase your abilities, you grow in confidence, you grow in your belief in yourself. And so your mind and your body become more accustomed to rigor.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:59
So it is the same idea with exercise, the stress of exercise. So right, I’m a power lifter, and part of my workouts, I mean, the whole point of my workouts, is to stress the body, and to push the limits of, of what my body can do and to create that muscle breakdown. And so what happens with these moonshot goals is that your mind and your body become more accustomed to challenge. And so what you can tolerate increases, so you raise your ceiling. And so of course, Kennedy, right. When he declared his moonshot, he declared it to the entire world, he put himself and NASA and America on the hook. And so that’s my challenge for you, is put yourself on the hook. Right? So how can you accomplish your goal: put yourself on the hook. And so build in accountability with the right people. So not just anyone, but with the right people. And so Seth Godin talks about generous critics, so people who have good intent, but who can give you generous criticism, people who can give you good feedback. So Brene Brown talks about those in the arena, who have earned the right to give you feedback. So others who are doing the hard work, who have earned the right to give you feedback. So when I think about my work, I, you know, I have an accountability group, I have some of my friends from Business School, that I consult with, that I asked for feedback from, and so know who you can put yourself on the hook with who you can seek feedback from who, you know, these are people who do not see you as fragile.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:59
So maybe not your mother, maybe not your spouse, hopefully your spouse doesn’t see you as fragile because that would be a real problem in your relationship. But you know, you don’t want to seek feedback from someone who’s invested in caretaking you that would be disastrous. So that’s what I mean, when I say maybe not your mother, because sometimes with your mother, you just, you know, like your mom’s a good cheerleader, your mom’s a good encourager, your mom’s, the one that says you just need to get more rest. And so your mom’s not the one you go to, for hard feedback.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:38
And you also want to be careful about going to those who might be overly competitive with you. Because they might have a hard time seeing clearly, and giving you the feedback, that’s going to be really helpful for you. And so you want to go to people who want to see you grow, and who can see you clearly, and who, you know, their own stuff isn’t going to get in the way. And so you’ve got to have some good awareness about that. And be very, be very mindful about that. And then, you know, as we think about structuring your accountability, and make sure you do have some structure to that, it shouldn’t be just willy nilly. So do you need to have a coach? Right, having a good leadership coach can make all the difference, because it is structured accountability. It’s some built in accountability and structure and the whole bunch more. But accountability is just one aspect of that. Having an accountability group where you have built in check in points, having some focus topic groups, whether that’s a writing group, whether that is a study group, a small group peer to peer coaching group. There are lots of ways that you can structure accountability for yourself, and be willing to do that. If your moonshot goal matters to you, then set up a structure to make sure that you can accomplish it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:23
And then of course, during parts two and three of this podcast series, I will talk more about what stalls your launch progress. So we’ll dig, dig more into some of the fears that really can get in the way, and we don’t want those getting in the way. And then of course, in part three, we will talk about, it’s time to take off and we will get into some of the details about how to help you take off with your a gold pursuit. And then of course, as a reminder, I have a great resource that goes with this three part series all focused on gold pursuit, and really helping you with your moonshot goal. And let’s help you really be successful with your goals this year. And so I hope you’ll tune in next week for part two, and then the following week for part three. And so you can head on over to my website, to check out the show notes with good resources for this episode. and links to the other things that I mentioned and of course the resource at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-89 one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-89. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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