I remember it was a particularly humid summer. In the afternoons, I would make my way down a forested path to a field with hay bales on one end, each painted with bright white, yellow, red and blue targets. I recall the tension of the bow as I’d raise my cocked arm to my side and—”ZINGGG!” The sleek arrow would go whizzing into the dense, musty stack, a burst of dust billowing out into the haze where the lodged arrow bobbed.
It’s been years since I’ve peered down the spine of an arrow, but the lessons of balance, focus and steadiness I learned that summer often feel analogous to the things I focus on in my broader life. I recently came into a new position at work, and with it came the opportunity to reevaluate and reset. In my previous role, I questioned, was I as helpful to others as I could have been? I pondered how I could be more effective and enterprising as I took steps forward in my new role.
Using archery to mentally illustrate “goals” and “targets”—words that can often deteriorate into dry jargon—helps me to colorize the way I frame my work. I know my mindset, whether inward or outward, will affect my balance and focus as I seek to accomplish goals. If I’m imprecise or distracted, I’m a less effective employee, and a less helpful colleague. I’m more likely to get stressed out, feel frustrated, and start blaming others for things that are going wrong. As I go about goal-setting, I’ve learned to ask myself the following questions:
- How can I best align my work with the goals of my colleagues, and the company as a whole?
- What adjustments I can make to be more helpful to others?
- Am I considering my impact in every direction (managers, clients, coworkers, direct reports, etc.)?
I often find that aligning my goals with the goals of those around me increases collective impact. I get out of my own head and am able to recognize solutions to previously frustrating issues. Regularly, I realize that slight adjustments to the way I’m working can streamline processes for those around me, enabling collaboration to flourish. Being open about my pitfalls, concerns, and confusions has helped to establish trust with my team, and allows for productive course-correction (and does wonders for building trust). Those whom I work with—and for—recognize that their goals matter to me. As a team, we’re enlivened in witnessing our impact on others grow with every aim. With reinforced practice and patience, the bullseye becomes familiar territory.