We are taught to set goals and then do what it takes to achieve them. Setting the goals isn’t so hard, but doing what it takes to achieve them can be hard work. In part, that is because the goal often just becomes another thing to accomplish. It loses its meaning, and therefore you lose your motivation to do it. If we want to find meaning and satisfaction in accomplishing our goals, and for one goal to lead to another and then another in an inspiring, motivating, and exciting way, focusing on the goal alone will not be enough.

However, there is another way. What if the goal was just a vehicle for a greater potential waiting to be realized?

We are taught that the whole is created by the sum of the parts. In other words, that the parts or individual steps will somehow come together to create the desired result. Yet we all know that, even if we do all of the “right” things, the result we are looking for doesn’t always come to fruition. And when it does, it is often after a lot of hard work and making things happen.

I propose a different idea–that the parts are created by the whole. The completed whole, even when just a concept, contains the full potential of what wants to happen–energy not yet in form. You could think of that potential as the “DNA” of the project or goal. In our bodies, the DNA is in every cell, so that every cell contains the essence of the whole. Therefore, in a healthy body, every cell knows its part to play in the full functioning of the body. That cell’s activity is driven by the potential for the whole. Each cell is in service of a greater whole.

The same can be true in our projects and goals. When we listen to the emerging potential and ask it to show us the way forward, then every step is infused with the energy of the whole. Every step is supported by the potential or the DNA of the project. Therefore, it becomes very clear how every step is related to the realization of that potential. When this is the case, every step you take in your project has meaning and purpose. Every step is fueled with a greater energy–the energy of the whole. No more “figuring it out” or “making it happen.”

Quantitative goals may be important for measurement. But if we want to keep growing and accomplishing greater things, we must focus on the qualitative aspects of our goals. The goal is a vehicle for something larger to happen. The “something larger” is where the real energy and passion is. That’s the gold. The potential can feed us and support us in the process. The goal by itself doesn’t necessarily have any “juice.”

So the next time you set a goal, realize that the goal is really just a symbol for a greater potential wanting to emerge. Identify that potential and become aware of it as a wave of energy. Ride that wave–partner with it. The results just might far surpass what you originally had in mind!

(This idea of identifying the potential within goals is the first step of the Potential-Based Approach, a powerful tool that we use in Transformational Presence Coaching and Leadership and that is discussed in depth in my latest book, Create A World That Works.)

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