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Unleashed E51: Michael Bungay - How to Do Work That Matters

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Table of Contents

We unlock greatness by working on the hard things in life instead of sliding into a comfortable groove.

Have you set a worthy goal for your development?

Michael Bungay Stanier shares his research into what makes a goal worthy, how to set one, and why it’s important we have one.

Actions You Can Take Right Now

  1. Any time you find yourself at a crossroads in life, challenge yourself to come up with a worthy goal to help define what you want to do, and who you want to be.
  2. A true worthy goal feels like a personal BHAG. Ensure it meets the criteria:
    • It must be thrilling – it should light you up, get you excited
    • It must be important – it should give more to the world than it takes
    • It should feel daunting – it should stretch, challenge and provoke you
  3. Practice the following steps to growth and success:
    • Identify and set a goal. Typically your goal will be either project related, relationship based, or identity related.
    • Commit to your goal. True commitment can only occur after you have fully contemplated and understood what you must say no to, in order to succeed with your goal.
    • Cross the threshold. If your goal is daunting enough, you won’t have a clear path to success. Instead, focus on the first few steps, celebrate progress, and get used to re-calibrating as you go.
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View or listen to this and other past episodes on the Unleashed Podcast Library

Episode Highlights and Excerpts

  • Michael Bungay Stanier started off wanting to write about how to change behaviour. In exploring this topic, what he discovered was that we unlock greatness by working on the hard things, instead of sliding into the comfortable groove of life.

  • It is in the pursuit of worthy goals that we figure out what we want to do and who we want to be in life. A goal is worthy if it is:
    • Thrilling – it lights you up, gets you excited,
    • Important – it gives more to the world than it takes, and
    • Daunting – it stretches, challenges, and provokes you.
  • Establishing a Worthy Goal is most relevant for those who feel they’re at a life crossroads – this is when we’re most hungry for it. Some examples might be:
    • In our early 20s – coming out of university – do you pursue a career?
    • In our mid 30s – you’ve worked hard & climbed a mountain – was it the right one?
    • In our 50s – coming to the end of a career, or becoming an empty nester – what’s next?
  • There are 3 steps to establishing a worthy goal:
    • ID & set a goal. Recognize that your goal can play at any scale – it doesn’t have to be global. Often a goal is a project, is relationship-focused, or identity-based. Expect your first draft to be crappy – keep working until it feels compelling. Once you’ve gone through 2-3 drafts, score each of the 3 attributes above on a scale of 1-7 each. Typically, one of the attributes will be weak, presenting an opportunity to strengthen it. A score of 18 or higher often means you’ve nailed it.
    • Make a commitment to your goal. True commitment means you’ve spent time contemplating and accepting what you are going to have to say no to, in order to succeed with your goal. Unlocking greatness means you’re going to be different. Understand that those close to you may resist. Gather supporters and loving critics – people who can be a warrior, a healer, a teacher, or a visionary for you. Document lessons from past mistakes and brainstorm a list of stumbling blocks and their solutions.
    • Cross the Threshold. Get started! A truly daunting goal won’t have a clear or linear path to success, and this can be scary. Figure out how to begin and celebrate along the way. Practice evaluating and re-calibrating as you go. Ground yourself in the image of you as your best self to recover from the inevitable stress involved in growth.
  • As a leader, get in front of the quiet quitting trend by helping your team. Create an opportunity for increased autonomy and self sufficiency by helping others build thrilling, important and daunting goals that also align with organizational strategy.
  • If you are interested in a conversation with Michael on organizational change, reach out to him through Box of Crayons. If you would like help with personal goals, find him at works.

Take Your Business to the Next Level 

At Results we care about your success, we understand how overwhelming it can feel to run a business, and we’re here to help. Reach out to Nicole through our contact form for ways to unleash the potential of your business. 

Visit the Unleashed Podcast Library where you’ll find exclusive conversations with world-class thought leaders, authors, and leadership experts. 

Each episode of Unleashed is hosted by Results’ CEO Jeff Tetz who spends most of his day exploring what makes high performers tick and helping build a community of leaders who want to learn and grow together. Follow Jeff (Twitter; LinkedIn; Instagram) for more great leadership insights.

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier Unleashed S6

Michael Bungay Stanier is the author of six books which collectively have sold more than a million copies. He’s best known for The Coaching Habit, the best-selling coaching book of the century and already recognized as a classic. Michael was a Rhodes Scholar and plays the ukulele badly. He’s Australian, and lives in Toronto, Canada. Learn more at www.MBS.works.