I want to talk to you about some of the most driven people I have ever encountered in my career: three-year-olds.
They are also some of the most successful individuals given their short tenure and minimal experience. They don’t care that you’re a sales executive in a Fortune 500 company who needs to catch a flight in order to pitch a huge lead. When they have sand in their shoes and a strong sense of self, your most influential and logical reasoning has no power over their steadfast defiance and refusal to put on their damn velcro, light-up sneakers.
In short, they get what they want.
Here are a few pointers from the kids’ playbook on goal setting and achievement.
Laser-Focus – Imagine a hangry kid who wants a box of cookies in the grocery store. Hearing a “no” from their grown-up doesn’t stop them. They see this as the beginning of a negotiation. Seeing the cookies on the top shelf doesn’t deter them. They will give up their favorite lovey if it means they will get the cookies.
Growth-Mindset – Kids know there’s always a way. When they want a toy from Target, they will turn into spider monkey houdinis climbing over carts and people to find the one they want. They love a challenge and rather than viewing obstacles as stop signs, they view them as opportunities to evolve their thinking.
Willingness to Take Risks – Kids don’t have limiting beliefs. They don’t think “what if my mom says no?”. They don’t wonder “what if my ice cream doesn’t taste just like rainbows?” and they don’t doubt themselves and their ability to get what they want pondering “do I deserve the sparkly tutu?” or “am I good enough for the elmo socks?”. There’s no inner chatter telling them they can’t. All they know is I CAN.
Flexibility – Kids don’t worry about the fact that it’s raining. They also don’t care if the slide is wet or the playground is muddy. They don’t care that it’s humid and you can’t have frizzy hair because you have to look presentable for a client happy hour tonight – it’s just hair! They will go after what they want and pivot as needed.
Support – One grown-up said “no” to a new stuffy? No problem! Kids will ask the other grown-up. Both said “no”? Kids will morph into the cutest, big-eyed, chubby-cheeked tiny humans to everyone around them, looking for someone else to be on their stuffy-acquisition team. Still no stuffy? Kids will make sure everyone in the entire store knows what they want – loud tantrums and fountains of tears usually mean their grown-up will buy them the stuffy! If all else fails, Grandma will come through. They will stop at nothing to find their personal board-of-directors to help them get what they want.
Now, as an adult with a fully formed amygdala and a little more emotional intelligence than a three-year-old, I want to know:
How can you channel your inner child as you think about your next goal?
How can you take control of your decisions so that your fears and insecurities aren’t getting in the way of what you really want?
What imperfect action can you take knowing that it’s better than NO ACTION?
How can you not only get the cookies, but make sure there’s a cold glass of milk, too?