The Right Goals

Xperience Growthblogposts

Kobe Bryant was the face of the NBA for nearly 20 years. During his playing days, he was seen as one of the best players in the world and is also viewed as one of the greatest to ever play the sport.

He was a winner. His  Lakers teams won 5 NBA championships, he was an 18-time All-Star, MVP of the NBA, MVP of the NBA finals twice and led the league in points twice. He won 2 Olympic gold medals. He was inducted into the basketball hall-of-fame months after his death in 2020.

Few people in the history of the sport have similar resumes as Kobe. You would think that he intensely focused on winning and the results that he wanted. However, he was not.

“(My) mindset isn’t about seeking a result – it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach. It’s a way of life. I do think that it’s important, in all endeavors, to have that mentality,” Kobe would write in his autobiography “The Mamba Mentality” after his NBA retirement.

Kobe figured out the right goals to focus his attention.

Many people make the mistake of only setting one type of goal. It’s the type that we all talk about when someone asks us “what’s your goal.” It’s an outcome goal.

Money you want to earn. Business growth to achieve. Games to win. Points to score. Championships to win. Etcetera. All of these are outcomes.

While Kobe achieved all these things above, his focus was not on the outcome. He had other goals where he focused and where elite performers focus: process goals and performance goals.

These are the “right” goals to focus our attention on.

Process Goals

Legendary football coach Nick Saban built one of the winningest programs in college football at University of Alabama. His teams there won 5 national championships. Before that, he was successful at other universities – including a national championship at Louisiana State University.

His core philosophy in coaching is known as The Process. It’s a concept that he adapted at this first head coaching job at Michigan State. Saban describes it as what you have to do to achieve a goal and the discipline to do it everyday.

The key, he says, is to get his team to buy into doing all the things necessary to be their best. He got his teams to focus on those activities and to continue to get themselves better at those activities.

Winning became a byproduct of The Process.

Just like Coach Saban and his coaching staff would outline the activities that each player and the team as a whole needed to be their best and in pursuit of being their best, we owe it to our dreams to do the same.

Ask yourself, “what are the activities that I need to do to be my best in my chosen endeavor?” Those activities should include training your craft, your physical body & your mind. Once you have those, focus your attention and energy there, using outcomes only as a device to inform tweaks to the activities.

Performance Goals

If process goals are the activities that you do, performance goals are how you do the activity.

I played basketball all through high school. Our practice the day before Thanksgiving my sophomore year still reverberates in my mind. That was the day our coach “kicked the team” out of practice. Essentially, he ended practice early because we were not focused and working hard.

I don’t remember exactly what the team as a whole was or wasn’t doing. I’m sure that we were going through the drills – the process – designed for us that day. We weren’t performing the drills well. We were being immature teenage boys and not taking the practice seriously, not hustling, goofing around, and therefore not getting better.

So Coach kicked us out.

The purpose was to send a wake-up call to a varsity team that consisted of 4 seniors and 8 sophomores to work harder, smarter and be more intentional about getting better during practice. The message worked, we went on to win our conference that year and lost to the eventual state champions that year.

Our coach realized that the process of the practice was only part of the equation. We had to perform well so that we could level up our skills & team chemistry to have a chance at winning during the games.

For performance goals, I ask people to give themselves a rating of “doing their best” on a scale of 0-5 of the activities in their process. Figure out why their rates themselves that number and what they could do to increase that rating. I also ask rate themselves on a scale of 0-5 on the “best that it can be done.” Again, figuring out the gap there, too.

The “Right” Goals

Like Kobe Bryant, Nick Saban and my basketball coach – Howard West – they realized that outcome goals are not the goals to focus on. Outcomes are simply the result of the actions that you take. Those actions are made up of your process and performance.

The reason why putting our energy and effort into the process and performance goals is that it’s what we can control or at least have the closest amount of control.

When we focus on things out of our control we give up our mental & emotional energy. We ride the emotional roller coaster that takes us up too high when we get the outcome we want and takes us down too low when we don’t get the outcome that we want. We can get overwhelmed and burned out. Confused and discouraged. We can develop hubris and complacency… which will lead to not achieving goals.

Allow process and performance goals to occupy you. Use outcome goals as feedback & learning to tweak the process & performance.

Winning becomes a byproduct. Because you’re doing it with intentionality & feel in more control, you’ll also have confidence and experience more joy.