What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up

Do you have long-term goals? Can you visualize yourself twenty years from now?

How does the long-term goal that you have set for yourself or for your organization affect your daily life?

I’m reading and reflecting on Daniel Goleman’s latest book, “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.” Goleman presents and discusses a wealth of research into brain functions and resulting human behaviors.

Self-help and motivational gurus have told us for at least the past 30 years to set long-term goals for ourselves and for our organizations in order to be successful.

Yet for most of us, it’s hard to get past today’s goals–or even today’s to-do list. Let alone think about this month’s goals, or this year’s goals, or our goals for five years out.

If you are in business or leading an organization, it’s hard to think even a quarter out. Thinking this month can be a challenge.

Goleman points to research about the human brain. It is still wired to respond just as it did for our ancestors on the savannahes of Africa–totally focused on immediate threats. There is nothing in our brain that is wired to respond to distant threats of which we may be aware. Therefore the lack of concern about climate change–it’s too far away.

The successful leader and person is one who is able to keep the future in mind, though, and can juggle the immediate while also working on the future.

In terms of Spiritual development (which Goleman does not discuss), this involves understanding not what we want to be, but who. The purpose of pursuing intentional Spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation and study is to mold us into the kind of person we wish to be. We are building our future selves.

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