Extra: Goals vs Values

For the past five or six years I have forced myself to sit down at the beginning of the year and establish some goals. Yes, I know that's what "everybody" does, but although I preached the sermon, I never actually did it until the year that I decided to include some goals that seemed unattainable. Almost for fun, I included "Meet Dr. Phil" and "Travel around the world in one trip." That year (2006), I had the opportunity to interview Phil McGraw on HIS stage and got a call while I was on a trip to Tokyo that my boss wanted me in Berlin immediately afterward. Since my flight to Tokyo was from the west coast, the flight to Berlin was over Russia and the flight back home was to the east coast, voila…I had traveled around the world in one trip.

Since this worked out in an almost magical way, I find myself every year including a couple of goals Goals sometimes keep us from seeing the other paths that seem a little further out than reasonable norm. And more often than not, it seems that I find a way to get there. So, this year, in that list of goals, I included "Meet Rick Snyder." From those of you not in Michigan, Rick Snyder is the new Governor. The reason I want to meet him is kind of a lark due to the fact that I wrote an editorial about him last November in the Detroit News and some people believed as a result that I was on his transition team.

Now, here's the reason for the title of this LMN Extra. Wednesday afternoon I received a call from a student of mine in East Lansing who had received an extra ticket to attend the State-of-the-State address by Governor Snyder for last night. Granted, this isn't exactly meeting the Governor, but it would have put me in the proximity and who knows what a conversation with one of the lawmakers might have produced in terms of an opportunity in the future? To me, this would have been clearly in line with meeting one of my audacious goals for the year.

However, Wednesday night was also my 13 year-old son's final 7th grade basketball game to be played against the only undefeated team in his region. Bryce is an awesome player and while I was convinced that his team would probably get thumped, I wanted to be at the game top support him and his team. It would end at around 5:30pm which would not give me nearly enough time to reach East Lansing for the Governor's address.

See the governor or attend my kid's basketball game? One time opportunity versus a single middle school game that would not impact anything in the long run? Go to the political center of Michigan or support my boy?

The good news about having goals is that they focus our effort and keep us on track to achieve what we want in the long-term. They remind us of commitments we've made after the enthusiasm starts to wane. The bad news about goals is that they focus our effort and sometimes do so in such an extreme way that we miss the important stuff around us. The environment changes, the circumstances don't work out, and we have to make a judgment call about which is most important. Sometimes we feel guilty because of the commitment we've made to the goal and we acquiesce to what is actually an arbitrary stake in the ground. Goals are goals and that's all they are. You invented them, you can adjust them if you need to.

I don't always make the right choice in these situations but in this case, there was no contest. Rick Snyder managed his State-of-the-State address without me and I still have eleven months to find a way to talk to him. Bryce's team spoiled the undefeated season of the opponent, winning 36-33 to which he contributed 20 points, 7 blocks, 7 steals and an all around awesome game.

Values win, goal achieved.


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