Why a Leader Should be Growth Driven not Goal Driven

It’s the beginning of a New Year and the majority of people take time to think about and set New Year resolutions or goals. I spend the last week of the year planning, goal setting, and writing out my goals in my game plan book. Having goals and striving to achieve them is not the problem. Tony Robbins even said “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” If you want to move closer to your vision and dreams you need to set and take time to focus on your goals. The trouble comes when an achiever or leader is so focused on goals that they forsake investing in personal growth. This can bring these two difficulties:

1. A person can strive to reach a certain goal and once they have achieved it they could plateau. The danger of success is that it brings comfort and the temptation to avoid risk or change which would allow them to move toward new levels of success or goal setting. If your growth driven your goals or a stepping stone forward and not a destination.

2. You reach your goals or dreams but you’re not prepared. John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” The best time to grow and develop yourself is before you have started to achieve your goals so you are ready and prepared when you start to achieve them. This does not mean once you have achieved a goal or success you can stop growing or building your competence. Growth driven leaders are Lifelong Learners and reap the results and reward of personal growth. Remember your goals move you into your desired future but personal growth allows you to stay and excel in those areas.

If you want to be more effective now and into the future I encourage you to be more growth driven then goal drive.

Questions: Do you agree a leader should be more growth driven than goal driven? How do you intend to grow and develop yourself this year?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Dan, I feel like you read my mind on this post. I have been thinking in a similar direction over the past week. One area that you can really see this principle is weight-loss Many people want to lose weight and they make goals for themselves to loose 10 or 20 pounds. The goal is great, but really the most important thing is to be healthy. If you focus too much on the hard numbers and just try to shed the pounds it can actually be harmful to your health. It’s amazing how if we focus too much on goals we can even backslide in our personal growth. Goals are good but they should never overshadow personal growth!

    • I’m glad we are on the same page. Both are important however personal growth and making our good choices a habit are essential. Great example, thank you for sharing it.

    • I love the example as well. Thanks for sharing.

  • DS

    It’s an interesting thought to consider. I’ve got several goals/pursuits, but to achieve them, I do need to grow. I’m not sure you can have one without the other, but you can go overboard with both.

    One of the ways I plan on growing is through daily Bible readings, and being more strategic in several areas of life.

    • I think a person could have one without the other. I see it a lot with business people who are results or goals driven and are not intentional about growing themselves. Most of them would look at you funny if you asked them what their personal growth plan was. I have even seen this happen with a few pastors. My intention in writing this post was to show people that goals are important but growth is essential.

      I think that’s a great plan. One of the best a leader could do. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

      • DS

        I think that’s a great response. Thanks for sharing some of your reasoning behind the post. Growth is definitely essential and not stressed enough in our “goal” society.

        • I’m glad it brought more clarity to the post. I should have reworded the title and some of the content so it was more clear in what I was trying to communicate.

  • I think they’re opposite sides of the same coin. Ultimately, growing helps us do – and without doing, the growing is useless. It’s about being faithful and fruitful.

    • Loren, are you saying that growing is more about being and goals are more about doing? If so I think I agree with you. The problem I sometimes run into with goals is that they can become more important than the growth and sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we have grown because we met a goal. We may have grown but goals are not perfect measure of personal growth.

    • I agree, our life should produce good fruit.

  • I’ve never been a big goal-setter. I just have things I intend to accomplish and work toward them. This year I have the challenge of writing the third book of my trilogy. I’ve written a bit to it and it’s proving to be the most difficult of the three books to write. My pace at writing it has been very, very slow, unlike the first two. I think the book has good potential and I already have the basic story in my head, but the underlying theme of redemption is harder for me to express than was forgiveness and mercy. Perhaps, it’s personal growth that will fuel this third book.

    • I relate with you, in the past I was not a huge goal-setter. I just tried to make forward movement. This year though I took time to plan and write out my goals with some deadlines. I’ll see how it works.

      I really like your statement, ” Perhaps, it’s personal growth that will fuel this third book.” I think your growth would help you write your third book. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress. Thank you for sharing.

  • As we grow, we will naturally set goals. At least that’s the way it’s happened for me. I was never a big goal setter until I started focusing on my growth as leader. Now it just comes natural to write down specific, measurable goals.

    • I think as we grow our growth shows us what we could do so we want to set and strive toward the future/toward goals. So I agree with you.

      That’s great writing down your goals comes natural to you. I know it’s not the case with most people (Myself included).

      Thanks for sharing bro!

      • I guess I should say it’s becoming more natural. I often jot them down in evernote or on my phone and revisit frequently to make sure I’m on track. Interestingly enough, when I revisit even after a month or more, I’ve actually managed to hit a few of them. They kind of morph over time of course.

        • That’s great. Evernote is a great tool. I think one of the key’s is to write down our plan and goals. It’s amazing how much more we get done if our goals are written.

  • I don’t think this is an either or situation but a case where we need to have both. Without vision and projects (goals) it’s hard to see when we’ve accomplished what we set out to do. And without growth we’re stagnant. So they’re both required to lead well.

    • I agree Joe. My intention was to show both growth and goals matter. I just see a lot of people who have goals but don’t grow themselves which could be dangerous. Thank you for reading and sharing.

      • That’s true. A lot of people focus on one or the other instead of both. Thanks for pointing that out.

        • I really blew it in this post because my title and some of the content was not showing what I was trying to communicate. Glad to clear up some of it in the comments:)

          • It’s funny how the message can be seen in so many different ways. Don’t worry about it. There’s a great message in there!

  • Great post, Dan. That is the problem in all of life and our society; we measure by the outside, or the senses so to speak. The true measure of a person ins’t on the outside, it’s on the inside. Of course, a person who measures the inside will ultimately shine on the outside, but our society teaches the opposite. The outside can never overcome what we lack on the inside. I’m becoming more mindful of this internal growth and am seeking it in God first. Your posts are a massive help. Thanks.

  • I agree. The danger of being more goal driven is that it’s easy to make the goal an idol. Not that there’s anything wrong with setting goals. There seems to be a trend in Christianity that almost looks down on goal setting. But I don’t buy into that. As long as our main goal is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, it doesn’t matter as much what the other goals are because our relationship with Him will dictate those goals.

    • Great point Barb. Goals have the potential to become a bigger priority than our relationship with God. However, when we first focus on God then everything else comes a little bit easier and quicker. It reminds me of Matthew 6: 33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Thank you so much for adding to the conversation.

  • Like you buddy I set some pretty big goals this year. Love the quote’s in the post. I pray people take this post to heart and plan. I pray they have the best most productive year of their lives.

    • Amen! I’m looking forward to what the future has for both of us. Our goals and growth are going to move us toward our dreams!!! Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • I think that keeping balance (growth and goals) is crucial! I esp agree with # 2 – unpreparedness can turn a blessing into serious pain :)

    • Yes, a balance of both are essential. Thank you for reading the post!

  • Do you think you can be both goal driven and growth driven? I’m sure you are suggesting that the answer is yes, but tilt more toward growth. Of course, the people who are reading your blog are motivated people and are people who will find a way to make it happen (regardless of characterized). Interesting topic and one to think about.

    • Skip,

      Yes, I do. I failed at clearly pointing that out in the post. I did have a bent toward personal growth and development because I have found so many people leave that aspect out while focusing on their plans and goals. Both are essential aspects. Sorry it was unclear, it shows I’m not even close to perfect:)

      • I thought you meant that because I’ve read enough of your stuff to know your philosophy. Wishing you both goals and growth this year.

        • Thank you Skip. I wish the a great year!

  • Dave Arnold

    Great post, Dan. Love the Tony Robbins quote. Herb Brooks, the former coach of the US Olympic Hockey team said something similar: “We have to sacrifice for the unknown.”

    I divided my goals up this year in to two categories: (1) Personal Growth Goals (this includes for my marriage and family and relationship with God); (2) Calling (my writing goals, platform, ministry, etc.

    This post was an affirmation of that!

    • Thanks Dave. I really like the quote as well. That’s great! Great goals categories. I have a section of my goals focusing on personal growth as well. Thank you for joining the discussion and adding to the topic.

  • Great post Dan. I found the key is to have a vision for your life and family. When you have vision that governs the direction for your life, you will set goals that will grow you. It wasn’t until I defined and wrote my vision that included my (purpose, values & future) that I began to set growth goals. Now, the goals I set personally and we set as a family are aligned with our vision. It makes for a more fulfilling experience.

    • Great point Bernard. Having a vision of the future is essential. I have one but have never written it down. Which is strange because the goals I have are leading me toward my vision and dreams. I’ll have to work on writing down a vision statement for myself. Thanks for sparking that idea.

  • Dan, I think you have to have both, but I do agree that growth should come before goal. Growth allows you to acquire the skills that will then allow you to achieve your goals.

    • I agree Juan. Both are key elements. I have found many people focus on goals and not growth so I wanted to write about the importance of being more growth driven then goal driven. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • I usually don’t straddle the fence but on this one I see a need to balance both. If you want to grow goals are an important part of helping you do so.

    • I agree, both are essential. I have seen many people who have goals but fail to grow personally. That’s a danger. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment.

  • for sure “growth” driven, focused on the #1 result they expect, then use goals to get there.

    • So true Jeremy. Thanks for taking the time to read and share. I appreciate it.

  • Dan, I agree that growth is as important as reaching your goals…what have you really gained if you have achieved all of you goals but haven’t grown as a person? Not even sure if that is possible! Reminds me of the 7 Habits and #7 – Sharpen The Saw. Leaders are constantly working to improve themselves, and they need to be intentional about it!

    • I totally agree. growth while moving toward goals is essential so we are prepared and ready for the new challenges and opportunities. That’s a great book! I’ll have to reread that chapter soon. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • A leader should seek to grow. Goals are good and anyone can write goals. Most of us don’t follow through on goals because we have not developed certain disciplines that are necessary such as integrity and commitment.

    Personally looking at goals that are unaccomplished may seem depressing. I have learned that what the goal makes of me is more important than succeeding in the goal. Just as you said, it is the journey not the destination that matters. An example already used is that of losing weight. If I lose weight according to a set goal but do not learn from the mistakes I had made to get to the undesirable weight and also adopt new eating habits – I would end up at a worse state/ weight than I was before. Jim Rohn said, “The major reason for setting a goal is for what it
    makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the
    far greater value than what you get.”

    • Great additional thoughts! Great statement, “I have learned that what the goal makes of me is more important than succeeding in the goal.” It’s all about personal growth and change while we are moving toward our goals and desired dreams. Great quote! Thank you for reading and adding to the topic:)

  • Just another great post! The first point reminded me of something I once heard Azim Premji, the chairman of Wipro, say:

    “We need to appreciate that all success creates its own “gravity”. It is easy to believe that what has succeeded so far must continue to succeed in the future and do well. This builds up a kind of dominant logic that is comfortable to [our] thinking… Any new idea will be pulled to the ground with the force of gravity.”

    Which always makes me think. We’re used to thinking of struggles as a test, but we don’t often consider success to be one. Which is what makes point 2 that much more potent. Because we only prepare for what we believe is going to happen. I guess sometimes (I know this has been true of me) our problem is we don’t always take the prospect of coming success seriously. We hope for it, but don’t always believe in it.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it:)

      Those are some wise words. I think an entire book could be written about how to handle success correctly, so many people achieve success but soon lose the momentum or become unsuccessful. Being growth driven can help us to become and stay successful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts:)