The Secret to Maximum Impact

Your year just started and you’re probably already behind on your “you think we’re good now, but soon we’ll be great” BHAG (thank you, Jim Collins, for introducing the world to Big Hairy Audacious Goals). You promised yourself and your team that this would be “the year” and now you have to deliver. But, no matter how much you raise the bar and rally the troops, you seriously doubt this year will be any different than last.

So, what’s the secret?

Other leaders seem to set the bar higher and higher and excel over and over again. Your Twitter feed is full of success stories. Your LinkedIn gives you article after article of ways to be the best of the best. But, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to crack the code. Why does putting all your effort into maximum impact too often churn out results that are best described as “meh”?

If you think reading this post will solve your problem, think again. There’s no quick fix or magic pill that will get you from here to there without hard work, determination, and focus. Setting the goal is never the issue—it’s following through.

While working with a client recently, we stumbled upon an amazing TED Talk by Stephen Duneier. This uber-ordinary guy has inspired millions of people to take steps toward greatness without being totally overwhelmed by BHAGs. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to watch How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals (TEDxTucson, 2017).

Trust me, Stephen’s inspiring and practical talk is 18 minutes that’s totally worth your time if you want to reach your goals and not have that same feeling in your gut as you did last year. Why? Because his proven premise is that your distractibility level doesn’t matter if you know the correct things to do, break them down into doable action steps, and actually do them. And the best way to make sure you follow through? Two words: marginal adjustments.

Marginal Adjustments

Maximum impact happens down the line when you take control of what you can actually affect today. You can change your trajectory and likelihood of hitting your BHAG by choosing to make marginal adjustments, not massive ones. Think about it. What could change if you: set your alarm a bit earlier, showed up three minutes before the meeting to get settled, wrote out your to-do list instead of having it running through your mind all day, picked up the phone instead of email or texting, talked to other smart successful people about ways to break down your big goals into smaller steps, listened to or read something different during your commute time, built in margin throughout the day to rest and reflect, revisited your long-forgotten hobby for a few minutes at lunch or after hours, tried taking power naps, read one chapter a day instead of shooting to finish the whole book at once, or [fill in the blank]?

You have more power than you think to do something small but productive that will result in maximum impact in the not so distant future.

Here’s my question for you:

What [insert adjective here] marginal adjustment will you make to take consistent steps toward success this year?

Deciding to take a small step doesn’t mean giving up on your big goal. The secret to maximum impact is determining what [correct, simple, fundamental, essential, reasonable, wise, ______ ] marginal adjustment you need make today so that long-range dreams become reality.

You’ll never reach maximum impact by focusing on the end result. And, do yourself a favor… stop comparing your reality today with everyone else’s highlight reels on social media or bookstore shelves. Like staring at the sun, putting all your attention on your BHAG will crush you. It is why people say the best way to eat an elephant (before they were on the endangered species list, of course) is ONE. BITE. AT. A. TIME. Don’t waste energy thinking about your finish line; just take one step toward your preferred future today.

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