Overcoming the Mediocrity of Doing Your Best

“Do your best,” is an excuse for not doing your best. It’s code for, don’t worry if you don’t make it. Stop telling people to do their best; give them a goal, instead.

Goals motivate because they define desirable results. “Do your best,” is obscure babble.  You don’t know what your “best” is. Goals, however, bring out your “best.” Make three sales calls by 5:00 p.m. is better than, “Do your best to make sales calls today.”

10 Ways to make goals work:

  1. Don’t waste your time setting easily attainable goals. If it’s easy to attain, you don’t need a goal.
  2. Set goals that are out of reach but attainable. Challenging goals inspire higher performance, unless they go too far.
  3. Goals without feedback die. Tell people where they are in relation to their goals, frequently.
  4. Create tools that enable people to assess their progress, self-feedback. Milestones are a good example; reports are another.
  5. Don’t assign goals; develop them together. The chances of buy in are higher.
  6. Buy-in fuels achievement. Be sure everyone fully embraces the goal.
  7. Confidence enables buy-in. People that don’t believe they can achieve don’t buy-in. Instill confidence by expressing confidence.
  8. Don’t set individual goals when groups are involved; set group goals.
  9. K.I.S.S. – keep it simple stupid. Complex goals confuse rather than motivate.
  10. Shout it from the roof-tops. Public goals are more likely to be achieved than secret goals.

The other side:

Developing goals together isn’t always best (#5). Some people respond well to having goals set for them. People who respect you – who seek your approval – may be energized when you assign them challenging goals.


Goals never work if leaders play favorites, actually they frustrate. If they don’t trust you, assigned goals are suggestions, at best.

How do you use goals to focus and energize people?

What do leaders need to do to make goals work?


Don’t miss a single issue of Leadership Freak, subscribe todayIt’s free.  It’s private.  It’s always practical and brief.

Go to the main page of Leadership Freak by clicking the banner at the top of this page, look in the right-hand navigation bar, enter your email and click subscribe.  Your email address is always kept private.  Note:  if it doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter for a confirmation email.