Pivoting Post-Pinnacle: Refocusing After Hitting (or Missing) Your Goal

Not having a backup plan is commonly considered the way to maintain laser focus.

The prevailing wisdom is that you won’t give it your all if you have a way out.

Having Laser-Focus Increases Your Odds Of Success” – Forbes Magazine, August 4, 2020

Don’t Make A Backup Plan: Why You’ll Be More Successful Without It” – Forbes Magazine, October 24, 2016

Why Making A Backup Plan May Set You Up To Fail” – The Washington Post, August 17, 2016

Why Incredibly Successful People Don’t Create Backup Plans” – Inc. Magazine, December 7, 2016

What happens after you’ve reached the top? Or, perhaps worse, peak just before you’ve achieved gold.

Do You Have An After Plan?

Imagine that you had a singular goal of becoming the top salesperson in your company or, even better, your industry!

Your goal was genuine. Your intentions were sincere. You worked extremely hard. You studied and attempted to implement ideas. You came in early and stayed late. You worked with a business coach, sales coach, and life coach.

Then, you made it.

For several consecutive quarters, you were the top salesperson.

The CEO handed you an award; you had a spotlight article written about you in your trade magazine, and your peers admired you and spoke wonderfully about you as they carpooled to work. You made it. You did it. You won the proverbial gold medal, and you grabbed the brass ring.

You are at your peak.

You know that this success can be attributed to your singular goal.

Your laser-sharp focus on this particular success.

Now what?

Are you able to maintain this achievement? What is your laser pointing to now?

What is your after plan?

Worse, What If You Miss The Gold?

Nobody likes to talk about it, but the reality is that you may miss your goal. Consider the same goal. You are determined to become the top salesperson in your company. You do all of the same things I already mentioned. You take all the proper steps and work as hard as, or harder, than anyone.

Except you don’t get there.

Month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year, you are the second banana. Someone else wins. Maybe their circumstances are slightly different than yours. Perhaps they’re slightly better connected and can get in front of prospects with bigger budgets. There are any number of factors that are out of your control that could keep you from winning.

Dale Earnhardt is quoted as saying, “Second place is the first loser.”

What will you do afterward if you finish second, third, or somewhere in the middle of the pack?

What will you do if you’re a loser?

Are you ready to pivot?

Consider 3M.

You may recognize 3M as a Fortune 500 company that manufactures a wide variety of products, including abrasives, cleaning supplies, dental orthodontics, insulation, office supplies, and many other products you likely recognize, including the ubiquitous post-it note.

3M stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, a “mining company” whose focus on mining is much smaller than its name suggests. In fact, at its founding, its singular goal was that of mining for high-grade corundum to make sandpaper and grinding wheels. Corundum has a hardness of 9, making it one of the most durable commercial gemstones, as the University of British Columbia points out. The only problem for 3M is that they hadn’t found corundum in northern Minnesota; they found anorthosite. Which, as 3M points out, is a low-grade mineral that isn’t suited for their intended goal at all.

They failed. They didn’t reach their goal.

It was their After Plan, their ability to pivot, that gave them the winning edge. Eventually, after decades of attempts, failures, more attempts, and more failures, they found their success.

The manufacturing and marketing of the post-it note is a far cry from mining corundum.

What will you do after you win?

What will you do after you don’t?

The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company didn’t close up shop and go home. They changed direction. As a company that has changed the world for over 100 years, it cannot be argued that, so far, it continues to win. And, more importantly, the end of 3M is yet to be written, if it ever will be.

Without a plan of attack or goal, you will start to feel less valuable. You begin to feel like your contributions are less valid. You start to feel like you’re failing.

I can’t tell you what to do after you win or fail. That is a very personal goal. But I can tell you that you need to be ready to adjust to your destination. To reorient your laser focus.

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