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Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Getting What You Want!

The more I work with gifted people as a coach, the more suspicious I get about the whole idea of goal-setting in this population. Having singular goals seems to be almost impossible, because of the constant personal growth that characterizes lifetime learners with a huge tolerance for variety and change. How can I set a long term goal, not knowing what's going to happen, who I'm going to be, what I'm going to want?

Goalsetting can feel like a terrible imposition, as if I am setting up something that is bound to fail. It's like predicting the weather - the system is simply way too complicated to commit to anything but really short-term goals or the most general long-term dreams. And knowing the tendency of many gifted people toward perfection, the last thing we need is another reason to beat ourselves up.

The trouble is that a rigid goal can take on a life of its own, becoming some kind of imaginary authority figure. Gifted people are notorious for finding ways around the rules, and it's no less true for the ones we make for ourselves! The whole thing works better for me, and some of my clients, by bringing active awareness into the moment of decision instead of deferring to an all-powerful goal.

Remembering that each choice is small and experimental helps. And also, it allows me to take care of myself better, letting me modify my big dreams as I learn and grow. Increasing awareness of my choices makes me feel in control of the process and quells my rebellious side yet still lets me achieve my ever-evolving dreams.

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I have goals, but how and when I accomplish them, and what changes they'll go through are all a mystery. I used to think that it would be easier with increasing maturity and life experience, but it does seem that it takes a particular kind of mind to set clearly defined goals and then stick to them. Anyway, it's boring. :-)

Can I make a suggestion? When I was keeping a blog on Blogspot I switched to having comments in a separate window. That way, it's easy to refer to the post you're responding to. I didn't even notice that option originally, but I picked up on it when I started commenting.
You know in the movie "You've Got Mail" (I have a few co-dependent issues around this film), near the end where they are discussing the significance of NY152 and Meg Ryan says "152 insights into my soul!"...
Overexcitable, YOU are my NY152 (said with passion).

Soon I will be embarassed that I just wrote that.
Re: Goals and life

When dealing with fluid and complex situations I like try remember that dynamic states involve an OODA loop ( developed by the late strategist Colonel John Boyd but now often applied in business consulting for managing large organizations)


It helps me pay attention to the signals and remember to adjust my decision-making.
I feel so fantastic when I accomplish a goal. I made a pillow out of an old fleece sweater and it was the first task I had completed in months - and it lifted me out of a depression. It is rare for me to finish a task (out of boredom, or finding something new), so when I do, I celebrate!

Big goals broken down into small goals are what move me along, and honestly, the only way I get things done.
Cantana - I changed my settings, hth!

Mark - Thanks for the link. I heard about the Boyd loop first in "The Gun Seller" by Hugh Laurie (gifted guy and star of the TV series "House"). This work of fiction explains the concept concisely and gives a hilarious illustration of it!

It seems to closely model what I discussed in the post, and makes far more sense than the more simplistic goal-setting exercises so often marketed to a public hungry for answers. I think the genius of it is that you can't take an isolated element of it, because of the feedback. Do politicians and policy makers need a Boyd refresher?!
"Do politicians and policy makers need a Boyd refresher?!"

Now that is what I would call an understatement. :o)

Boyd's loop is well understood in the Pentagon on a superficial level of following it as a recipe for better planning and initial execution of a war plan; but not on a deep level nor is it applied systematically ( except for the Marines, there Boyd is doctrine). Some members of the brass continue to reject Boyd's ideas and those he inspired in others ( 4GW and network-centric warfare) outright.

Boyd wanted people to be constantly aware of the emerging decision trees their actions caused and to act purposefully with them in mind. Alinear thinking and a comfort with paradoxical states of flux owing to impefect information.

Linear thinking and the pursuit of certainty continues to dominate the USG decision-making process ( something reinforced by the ubiquitous presence of lawyers at every level of discussion).

I would also recommend reading Boyd's Destruction and Creation. Short but very powerful.


Returning to the theme of your post, Boyd was the genius autodidact who did not come to grips with his abilities until adulthood.

He also had a lot of the negative behavioral traits associated with a high leve of giftedness.
Hmm... this might be very helpful to me. I have a strange relationship with goals. I like to accomplish things, but it is too linear of a process- sure doesn't seem to fit my reality. I'll have to look into Boyd's strategy.
Indeed, loops of conjecturally certainly applies. People are often limited in understanding what we truly want. Here my own take: http://www.FoolQuest.com
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