written by
Iain Smith

Leverage Your Goals

Productivity Goals 4 min read

I’ve changed my mind. I've decided to send out my top tips newsletter on a weekly basis again. Cunningly, I’m calling it my Weekly Top Tips. You can subscribe here

There are two reasons for going back to weekly:

  1. I keep getting asked where it's gone
  2. I know that writing weekly will force me to do it better.

This second reason is called creating leverage and it is a brilliant strategy for increasing productivity. I'll share a story about how I used leverage to achieve a difficult goal.

Make A Splash

When I left teaching and was starting out as a coach and trainer I set myself a bunch of difficult to reach goals. One of these was completing a triathlon. A race starting with a swim, followed by a ride, ending with a run. That to me was a difficult challenge and seemed like a mad objective at the time.

There were quite a few obstacles, the main one being that I couldn't swim.

I took lessons but they were hard going. Kids were having lessons at the same time and I felt embarrassed. I couldn’t get the breathing right. I inhaled a lot of water and the coughing and spluttering weren’t nice. I felt like giving up a lot.

Even when I got the swimming basics sorted I still thought the actual event would be too hard. I was in danger of quietly dropping that goal. No-one would ever know.

But I didn’t want that to happen so I leveraged the situation. I took my challenge public.

Read All About It

I contacted the local newspaper and told them what my plans were: complete a triathlon to raise money for orphaned children in Tanzania. My story had human elements that newspapers love and I promoted these brazenly: silly man who can't swim competing in a swimming race, while raising money for African orphans.

They interviewed me and took photos of me on my bike. The next week my story was in the Surrey Mirror. It also ran in two other sister papers.

How The Surrey Mirror Reported My Goal

Now I couldn’t back down. With the newspaper article out there I had nowhere to hide. People everywhere kept asking me about the swimming and the race. I had increased the leverage and given myself no choice.

And I did it! I learned front crawl and I swam, biked and ran the race, avoiding the dreaded DNF*.

Creating leverage can be really useful to force yourself to do something. Something that you aren't currently doing, but that you know will benefit you in the long term.

Man In The Mirror

The second part of why this worked for me is that I knew myself. I want to impress on you that knowing yourself is really important. If you know your own traits, even if you don’t like them, then you’ve got something to work with.

It hurts to write this but too often I'll let myself down and find a way to wriggle out of a goal I’ve set for myself. I don’t like that about me and so I find ways to negate that character weakness

Another thing I know about myself is that I don’t let other people down. And so I use that to my advantage and link the two. Combining my own goal of learning to swim with a promise I made in front of other people meant that I had to deliver.

If enough people knew that I was going to do this triathlon and there was an emotive purpose, then I would have to get on and learn to swim, (however embarrassing it felt, striving to keep up with the six-year-olds in the lane next to me).

Know thyself plus leverage: these two things are incredibly useful for getting stuff done, so use them wisely. Together they're like a superpower!

Weekly Fix

Writing a weekly top tips newsletter isn’t easy. Finding the time is a challenge but now that I’ve made the resolution public I know I’ll have to do it. Knowing that it is weekly and that there is an audience eagerly awaiting it forces me to get the thing written.

I hope you enjoy the ideas I write about and find them useful at work, home and play. If you do please let me know. Perhaps on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

*DNF = Did Not Finish

Iain helps organisations get more done, in less time and reduce stress. He delivers inspiring training courses across the UK and abroad. You can contact him here.

He writes a weekly top tips newsletter that you can sign up for on this very page, or by visiting his website.

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