But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. - Matthew 19:26, KJV
I love the way Oprah Winfrey captured the secret to her success on the last day of her show’s 25-year run:
"People often ask me what is the secret to the success of this show. I non-jokingly say, ‘My team and Jesus,’ because nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me." - Oprah Winfrey, The Oprah Winfrey Show - Final Episode (5/25/11)
“I always knew I’d be a millionaire by age thirty-two,” said Oprah in 1987. “In fact, I am going to be the richest black woman in America.” Nineteen years later, with a net worth of $1.4 billion, Oprah has become not only the richest black woman in America, but also one of the richest people in the world.
This success has not come by chance. Oprah has made her fortune by setting clear and ambitious goals on both the professional and personal levels. “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret,” she says. “Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”
According to Oprah, the biggest hurdle people need to overcome in order to be successful is their belief that there are limits to how much they can accomplish. Goals need to be set and set high; expectations need to be limitless; and ambition cannot be restrained. “If you believe you can only go so far, it is an obstacle.”
The Bible says that with God, all things are possible. But, as Christian leaders we must establish goals that are first vetted with Him. “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5, ESV). So, make sure you follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in identifying the right goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics to fulfill the path that God has ordained for you (Proverbs 3:5-6) and to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
When establishing your goals, make sure that they are SMART, which is the commonly used acronym for:
- Specific (i.e., be precise about what you intend to achieve)
- Measurable (i.e., ensure that your objectives are quantifiable)
- Attainable (i.e., make sure that your goals are achievable)
- Realistic (i.e., confirm that your objective is one that you are willing and able to pursue)
- Time-bound (i.e., identify the timeframe or deadline for achieving the stated objective)
Example of a SMART Objective: To gain 25 percent of the U.S. market for smart phones by December 31, 2020.
As God’s ambassadors in the workplace and in the marketplace, it is perfectly acceptable to have clearly defined goals and objectives, but we must make sure they are established by God and remain flexible to His timing. For instance, don’t be tied to a specific destination with your business such as going public or capturing a certain percentage of market-share within a certain timeframe. He’ll let you know what to do and when to do it. Wait for His perfect timing in planning and executing your initiatives.
When you commit your plans to the Lord and allow Him to direct you, your plans are guaranteed to come to fruition (Proverbs 16:3). The Bible says that if you obey God, He promises to make your name great, or enhance your reputation, and make you a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2). Remember, no one has seen what God has prepared for those who love Him, and no one can change the plans of God (1 Corinthians 2:9; Isaiah 43:13).
I still remember my first presentation as a professional consultant. I had only been on the job for a few weeks and we were doing a strategic planning project for a large energy company. I had done a key part of the analysis that needed to be shown to the client, so my manager asked me to give the presentation. Our consulting firm had a particular style for presentations, so my boss did quite a bit of editing and reformatting of my slides. No problem. I thought that I was ready ... until I gave the presentation. I stumbled through it. And I realized afterwards that even though it was my analysis, it was my manager's presentation. I had never really "owned" the final version of the slides. Leaders are regularly faced with a version of this temptation to "fix" someone else's work, especially when the leader is also the owner. The risk is that in doing so, these leaders take “ownership” away from the staff members who have spent considerable time on the task or project up to that point. That can be demoralizing. But even worse than that, it can also lead to less than satisfactory results. Staff members may fall short when the work is given back to them because they don't understand the "improvements." Or the leader is forced to stay over-involved when he or she should be working on other things.
I don't want my opening illustration to be misunderstood. My manager's changes truly did improve the presentation. It communicated the right information in a much more meaningful way. Some of the fault belonged squarely on my shoulders for not spending more time practicing with the new slides so that I was comfortable with them. But the question remains for every leader: how can you accomplish your goals and meet your standards for excellence and at the same time, allow staff members to retain a sense of ownership?
Follow me on this one. I am going to make a comparison between you and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. The analogy is a good one to use in the sales profession. At the conclusion of this, I wish you would think about this comparison. Here are some facts about The Golden Gate Bridge. It was first opened to traffic on May 28, 1937. It is known as one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World." It was built to withstand a huge traffic load. The annual revenue generated by tolls on the bridge was $59,289,000 in fiscal year 2002! That's a lot of quarters.
The annual traffic in fiscal year 2012 was 40,694,792 vehicles. The monthly load on The Golden Gate Bridge is 3,391,233. That equates to a total of 111,493 vehicles each and every day for an entire year. WOW! This is truly an engineering marvel. The engineers who designed this structure were pretty smart.
OK. Now, here is the point. The Golden Gate Bridge was designed to handle the traffic load in a systematic way. In other words, if you were to put the annual load of 40 million vehicles on the bridge at the same time, it would collapse under the weight. The bridge was not designed to handle that type of load. If you were to put the entire monthly load of 3.9 million vehicles on the bridge at the same time, it would collapse under the weight. The bridge was not designed to handle that type of load. THE BRIDGE WAS DESIGNED TO HANDLE ONE DAY AT A TIME. So are we!
It is important - even vital - that we plan our sales year, our sales quarter, our sales month, and our sales day. By so doing, we have a better chance of achieving our sales goals. However, we have to handle our sales career one-day at a time. If not we will collapse under the weight.