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Ken Keller: Succeed with goals, plan

Brain Food For Business Owners

Posted: August 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 26, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

I woke up to the sound of my dad and my older brother Tom talking. It was a warm summer night in the summer of 1969. Tom had just graduated from high school and I was going to start in a few weeks.

My dad was verbally ticking off a list of each of his children, stating how many years each of us had left until we graduated from high school.

When you graduated from high school in 1943, you went into the service. Within months my dad was in the middle of the Pacific, and after VE Day, ended up in Japan, stopping along the way at Iwo Jima and Okinawa with thousands of other men who stormed those beaches, fighting for their lives.

I didn’t think that my dad had low expectations for his children; but going to college was not an option for him or his brothers when they got out of school. College wasn’t within his realm of possibilities and quite possibly he did not think it was within ours.

I had this flashback the other day when I was reading a book by Brian Tracy titled “Achieve Any Goal.” In it, Tracy references Mark McCormack’s book “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School.”

In 1979, the graduates of the Master of Business Administration program at Harvard were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” The results were not surprising: 3 percent had written goals and plans, 13 percent had goals but they were not in writing, 84 percent had no specific goals at all, other than getting out of school.

That night in 1969, I set a goal to go to college and do whatever it took to graduate. And I did. My grades were good enough for graduate school. I had to work to pay room and board, tuition, books, clothes, a car and gas. I earned a bachelor of arts degree in four years, ready for a real job paying real money. Just a few years later I went back to school at night and earned my MBA.

There are important lessons from Tracy, McCormack and myself here.

Tracy didn’t graduate from high school but became very wealthy because he understood the importance of goal setting, creating a realistic plan of execution and the need for regular accountability. He started using these tools about age 25. He has since influenced millions of people.

McCormack’s publication of the Harvard study ties to the current political debate about asset ownership in America. Those 3 percent mentioned are probably all part of the notorious “One Percent” that people are railing about.

That these individuals were successful might well be because they were at Harvard but it is more likely that the goal setting and plan creation tools they used actually worked. These same tools are readily available to anyone. They work but only if used consistently.

As for myself, I confess to being in that 13 percent category. Could I be more successful if I put all of my goals in writing and had a plan to execute against? The answer is yes.

There is nothing holding you back from being more successful, except yourself. The same is true for me.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with companies interested in growing top line revenue. He can be reached at KenKeller@SBCglobal.net. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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