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BY Joel Junker

Preparation Goals

Successful people set goals, develop a plan to reach them and then execute.  Successful people may not always reach the goal, but that’s not the point.  The point is that people who rise to the top of organizations constantly have goals, prepare to meet them and work towards them.  They are rarely complacent.  This is also true for successful Junior Military Officers transitioning to business as Development Candidates (those who have the ability and desire to reach the top levels of a company/business).  For this reason, I promote goal setting in the Cameron-Brooks’ Development and Preparation Program© (DPP©), with the Cameron-Brooks team members, and with our Alumni. 

I thought I had read and learned as much about goal setting as possible, until I read Heart of the Student Athlete by Karl Mecklenburg.  I ordered this book for my oldest daughter who is a swimmer and a good student.  I also ordered it because I am a fan of Karl Mecklenburg.  Karl played linebacker for the Denver Broncos from 1983 to 1996 and more importantly is from Minnesota (my home state) and played football for the University of Minnesota.  Logically, Mecklenburg devotes a chapter to goal setting as a key component to being a top performing student athlete.  However, he focuses on what he calls preparation goals.  Preparation goals are goals set for practices, studying for tests or  even focus areas set prior to a business meeting, sales call or an important production day.  This is in contrast to goals such as number of wins, points scored, revenues achieved, sales closed and production increases.  Mecklenburg contends that those specific goals should be team goals, and writes, “Game goals should be limited to team goals….  Points will take care of themselves when hustle, teamwork and proper technique are used.”  In other words, if one sets goals regarding the preparation, fundamentals and teamwork, points and results will take care of themselves.  Setting specific preparation goals will ensure reaching your desired outcome whether that be points, revenue, production or closed sales contracts.

Mecklenburg describes a time when he couldn’t make a tackle during a game because the guard kept blocking him.  His coach informed him that he wasn’t seeing the guard or using his hands to take on the block.  The next week in practice he set a preparation goal to watch the guard on every scrimmage play and focus on proper hand technique.  Notice he didn’t say he would see the guard and use proper hand technique in the next game.  Instead he set a preparation goal.  The result?  After the next game, he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Week.

After reading Heart of the Student Athlete, I am using the preparation goal concept in both my professional and personal life.  In my professional life, I am setting preparation goals for the week and each day.  This keeps me from being complacent.  Some examples of preparation goals include, focusing on listening more than talking when interviewing candidates, being more accurate with information I pass to my team members, rehearsing presentations with effective diagrams and charts, and identifying people’s different communication styles in order to build  relationships with them.  These goals will lead to better results in my relationships with client companies and candidates, thus helping all involved achieve their goals.  Personally, I use preparation goals in fitness, focusing on technique and effort versus specific times and weights; though I do set long term goals in those other areas.  Also, personally, I am communicating this concept with my children as to how they approach their week in swimming, gymnastics and school work.  For example, my second daughter struggles with spelling (takes after her mom).  She is setting a preparation goal of checking her spelling homework twice before submitting it, and thereby learning the habit of attention to detail.

The concept of preparation goals easily translates to a JMO in the process of a business career transition.  Cameron-Brooks has a reading program, self-evaluation modules, interviewing webcasts, podcasts and exercises, as well as personal face to face meetings as tools leading up to initial interviews.  Specific preparation goals could be reading two business books a month, teaching others the concepts learned and applying a concept from each book within one month of reading the book.  Sometimes candidates need to work on improving communication skills which are key to successful interviewing.  They will set preparation goals to work on voice inflection during conversations with others at work or elsewhere, being more succinct in answering questions, or joining Toastmasters International.  For interviewing, I have been recommending that candidates set preparation goals in developing in-depth answers to why they like the company, the industry and position, as well as identifying the 5 strengths they want to communicate to the company, and 2 accomplishments that connect to the position for which they are interviewing.  I then suggest the next preparation goal should be to practice those answers 2 to 3 times prior to the interview.  If they do this, the end result of the interview will take care of itself.  They can’t control the recruiters’ impressions but they can control their preparation and effort.

 Like my daughter using preparation goals to achieve the habit of attention to detail, adopting the setting of preparation goals into one’s daily routine will develop habits that will continue throughout one’s career and life not only to deepen one’s reservoir of knowledge but also to build up those around us as they strive towards their goals. Points will follow!

Joel Junker