What happens when you aim big… and miss?

I’m writing this at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the final quarter of the year… also at the end of a 5-month WIG (Wildly Important Goal) cycle at DigitalMarketer.
While it’s not appropriate to share exactly what our WIG was, I can tell you that it was a big goal, and I can tell you that we missed.

It wasn’t for lack of effort or dedication, ideas or execution, team or budget… we just flat missed.
Sure, we caught a few bad breaks along the way and if they hadn’t happened, we would have probably hit the goal, but they did happen.
And that’s ok…
Why? (great question)
Because, hitting or missing a big goal shouldn’t be a binary win or lose.
It can’t be.

If you’re setting a big enough goal and you’re getting anywhere close, or hell making any effort at all, then I guarantee there were wins along the way.
These wins don’t exist solely in the moment you’re focused on the goal and then vanish when you move to a new goal. They’ve been installed in your business making you and it better for months and probably years to come.

We set big goals so that if (and when) we miss the results will still be worth celebrating.
So that we’ll be able to come back and set another big goal, maybe even bigger… even after just “losing”.
Trust me, that’s the hardest part.
You have to fight the urge to “sandbag” the next goal and justify it for team morale purposes. Yes, morale is real and so is momentum and you need them both. BUT you’ll learn way more from failure than you ever will success so don’t try to escape it by lowering your goals.
Instead of sandbagging, you have to find a healthy way to deal and learn from failure. Own it and then use the gift of hindsight to answer some questions and determine the best way to move forward based what you now know.
That’s what being a leader is all about. Leading through success is easy, leading through failure and disappointment is hard.

I put together a list of questions that our team answered after we missed our last big goal and included them below.
Maybe they’ll help you too.

1. If we didn’t set this goal, where would we be today?
2. What decisions did we make because of the goal that we might not have made without it?
3. How have we become better as a company, as leaders and as individual contributors because of this goal?
4. What assumptions did we make in backing into the goals that were just flat wrong?
5. What did we say we would get done but didn’t, or didn’t in time?
6. What did we do that worked as well if not better than we expected?
7. Were we looking at the right leading indicators for this goal?
8. If we knew then what we know now, what would we have done to achieve the goal?
The DigitalMarketer team has owned missing the WIG, celebrated the wins we had along the way and fully committed to (and started on) a much bigger goal.
I’d love to know your lessons learned from failures and hear about the wins you experienced along the way. Post below so we can all learn.

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