The Danger of Aspirations
Foolish leaders permit aspirations to minimize affirmations.
Affirmations encourage and motivate by pointing to progress and success. On the other hand, aspirations say we aren’t there yet.
Aspirations set targets;
affirmations celebrate achievement.
My aspirations include building an organization where everyone supports the success of others. “Let’s build environments where we help others get where they want to go.”
“I’m proud to be part of an organization where we help others achieve their goals.”
Organizations never arrive at perfection. I’ll never lead an organization where everyone fully supports the success of others. There will always be, inadequacies, laggards, and room for improvement.
Do we have people dedicated to helping others succeed? Yes! Do we have laggards? Yes. Must I wait for perfection before I can affirm?
Exclusive focus on aspirations deters affirmations.
Future goals prevent me from appreciating present attainments. “We have so far to go.”
Aspirations invite me to focus on deficiencies while neglecting successes. I don’t want anyone to think we’ve arrived. If I’m not careful, aspirations minimize dedicated efforts and hard-fought successes.
Wise leaders bring aspirations and affirmations together, but not at the same time.
“I’m thankful to lead an organization where people help others achieve their dreams,” is a powerful affirmation. I’m learning to let that statement stand on its own! Are we there yet? We’ll never be there.
Never let how far you have to go
be the reason you don’t celebrate how far you’ve come.
Will frequent affirmations make us lazy? Absolutely not.
Affirmations are wind to sails.
Experience suggests that aspirational leaders affirm too little and aspire too much. Ramp up your affirmations, you’ll get further faster.
How do you see aspirations getting in the way of affirmations?
What do great affirmations focus on or sound like?
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Wow. This was an eye-opener, Dan. I had never thought of the words aspiration and affirmation in quite these terms before. The fun thing about this discovery is that it’s easy to convert many statements to the affirmation kind.
Thanks again for an interesting and thought provoking post.
YOu are so right…aspirations do translate into affirmations. It just takes some intent to focus on achievement without the pressure of adding something that needs to be done.
I really like the reminder that affirmations should not be used at the same time as aspirations. So often we say what a great job everyone is doing – we then add the “But” which negates the positive statement before! Thanks for the reminders as always!!!
everyonethrives, your comment was perfect! Every company meeting celebrates accomplishments and then, inevitably , ends with “But we need to better with …”. I’m so used to it , I don’t even recognize the “But” anymore….Since everyone is so used to hearing the “But”, they might even consider is to be remiss to NOT hear it from their leader.
Thanks for the insight.
Thank you! As a teacher I realized from this post that I share aspirations too much to the whole class. Tomorrow I will begin with an affirmation.
I like your take on a subject which isn’t that clear to a lot of people.
Do you actually earn a living spewing this kind of stuff?
I also like “perfection is not achieveable but excellance is”
“Never let how far you have to go be the reason you don’t celebrate how far you’ve come.” LOVE that! Sometimes we move in baby steps but as long as we’re still moving forward on a constructive path, there’s reason to affirm success.
Great wisdom, thanks always for sharing!
Aspirations convert to affirmation opportunities, as portions of a goal are achieved. Thus I agree the two ought not to be in the same conversation. Some roles in a corporation seldom spawn an aspiration. The objectives are handed out by others; but there is still an opportunity for affirmation.
An aspiration can evolve from a vision, and many visions are not fully achievable, thus fracturing an aspiration into minor aspirations(milestones?) can intentionally generate affirmation points along the way. People need to know that what has been achieved is recognized. At a different time you can address what still needs to be done.
The one danger in too much focus on affirmation is the risk of creep, over time, of the affirmations into achievements of lesser and lesser importance; especially in times when achievements are more difficult to identify. This dilution can weaken the impact of affirmations