Focus: Goals that Inspire

Disciplines: Mental Models, Team Learning

Motivation is an external, temporary high that pushes you forward.
Inspiration is a sustainable internal glow which pulls you forward.
Thomas Leonard


In the early 1990’s Barbara Waugh, Human Resources Director, was asked by Joel Birnbaum, Director of Hewlet-Packad Laboratories, to work full time on making HP Labs the “World’s Best Industrial Research Labs” (WBIRL project). She asked employees from all over the world, “So what should be our vision?” After a year of her getting input, one engineer finally answered, “Best industrial research lab IN the world doesn’t do it for me. I’d get up in the morning to be best FOR the world.” Change one little word and the excitement was electric. A senior engineer created a picture of what “FOR THE WORLD” meant to him: a famous picture of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard gazing into the garage where it all started, now suddenly with the beautiful blue earth, taken from the Apollo spacecraft, inside the garage. This became their iconic poster. Eventually 50,000 employees purchased this poster on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads. “HP for the World” became the banner uniting all the HP business, and uniting the legacy of Bill and Dave to the present efforts. This tipped off a large-scale transformation of the company. People were inspired to perform. (Read the whole story in The Soul in the Computer: The Story of a Corporate Revolutionary by Barbara Waugh.)

This is the time of year when people are making New Year’s Resolutions and setting goals for 2012. I want to share a kind of goal that has made a huge difference to me. In the Arbinger Choice in Coaching course we call it an Out-of-the-Box goal. It is not just about me improving in some way – it is about me improving in relationship with others. It inspires because it pulls me to be bigger, to honor others, to be a better person FOR others. The HP shift from IN THE WORLD to FOR THE WORLD is a perfect example. Here are a couple of my own:


  • For years I wanted to become a great soup cook. I bought soup books, but didn’t start making soup. I got a soup pot, but it didn’t help. Finally I changed the goal: “Share soup and stories with others.” That one got me moving. I made soup and invited myself to lunch with a neighbor who was a new, snowed-in mother. I invite people over for soup and stories. Now I can’t stop making soup and sharing it!
  • I have had trouble sustaining an exercise program. It has always felt like a “should,” even though when I do exercise, I have more energy. Finally I changed the goal to: “Exercise to have more energy for family and friends.” That totally shifted exercise for me. Now I prioritize exercise. I don’t make excuses. I do it because I want to. And I DO have more energy for family and friends.

Shifting a goal from a push, “have to” structure, to a pull, “want to” structure is magical! When it’s only about me, excuses are easy. When others are affected, I am inspired to action.


  1. How can you create a goal or a New Year’s Resolution that is big enough to inspire you, to get you out of bed in the morning?

  2. How can you change a goal or a New Year’s Resolution so it includes and honors other people?

  3. How can you revise a goal so that it makes you a more responsive person not just a more successful one?

  4. Who might help you move toward this new goal? (Clue: could be a friend, family member, or someone who does what you want to. A regular jogger by my house, rain or shine, showed me weather doesn’t have to be an excuse not to exercise.)


There will be no telegathering this month because Hal fell on New Year’s Day and broke his hip and pelvis. He is in the hospital now and will move to skilled nursing soon and I will be focusing on his speedy recovery. Please support us with your healing thoughts and prayers!



Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone. Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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