Goals Can Be Dangerous

I was reading about an amazing adventure that my friend, former client and colleague is undertaking right now. Sarah Wilson is an adventure coach and is in the midst of one of her own amazing adventures right now. It’s called Cook to Cook. It is her goal to climb New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt Cook, then cycle approximately 600 kilometres to Picton on the northern tip of NZ’s south island, then kayak across the treacherous Cook Strait to Titahi Bay on the southern tip of the north island of NZ.

Sarah and her climbing buddy have completed, for all intents and purposes the climb to the top of Mt Cook – well almost. Due to treacherous and potentially life taking conditions, just 200 metres from the actual summit they had to turn back. Heart breaking for the adventurers, but a life saver. Read all about it here: http://www.adventurecoaching.co.nz/blog.html

So what is my point? Sarah has this amazing goal. One that has great meaning for her. One that she is passionate about. In part she had to step away from her goal by turning back when she was so close.

As a leadership and personal coach part of my job is to help people create their own inspiring adventures and goals, be they with their workplace teams, in their careers or in their personal lives. Or it might be in all three! We create goals that have meaning, stretch, purpose and a need to grow emotionally in some way.   Together I help them visualise, strategise and plan their pathway to the goals. I keep them accountable. I challenge them. I am their cheer leader when it starts to feel too hard. But sometimes, my job is to help them ask that question, which is, ‘is it really worth it’ ?

In Sarah’s case, the answer was ‘no’ – the risk of losing life and limb far outweighed the passion and need to achieve the goal itself. That takes amazing courage and wisdom.  In my work with clients, we do have to keep checking the importance and the ‘cost’ of the goal. This is where clients tap into their own wisdom and courage. Sometimes as a coach I do have to question their wisdom to pursue a goal when it is clear from the ‘outside’ there are dangers.  This is almost counter-intuitive for a coach to do – but it goes with the job.

Setting goals has been proven on many levels to inspire, clarify, and create momentum and a sense of achievement and growth. Setting goals helps your brain get organised so it shows you ways and opportunities to achieve the goal.  But you need to check for yourself – is it ‘dangerous’ – only you will know….

Gai Foskett is one of two Master Certified Coaches in New Zealand. Gai specialises in executive leadership coaching.
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