Back in the day, I used to do sales for a consulting firm. And to become a better sales person, I’d do training courses at night classes that I thought might help me be better at sales.
When I’d finished a class, I’d announce it at our weekly staff meeting. The staff’s reaction was always the same. They’d be astonished that I’d finished the course so fast. And usually one of them would invariably say, “Didn’t you just start that course? Man, you’re fast!”
That would make me laugh because I wasn’t really that fast of a student. The course had usually taken me a couple of months to do. One day, I finally realized why they’d mistakenly thought that way.
While I’d been changing my skills with my nose in a sales book, they’d been lounging at home on their couch, watching reruns of Law and Order and munching from a bag of corn chips. When a person does the same thing every day, it gives them the illusion that no change is taking place. No change equals no time.
Still amazed by my supposed speed, they’d then ask me how I’d finished the class so fast. I’d look at them sagely and say: “I’ll tell you my secret.” Then I’d pause and lean forward. After they’d silenced themselves to listen intently, I’d say, “I read the next word on the page.”
They’d stare at me blankly, while I laughed myself silly.
There’s a familiar Chinese proverb that I relate to goals. In English, it’s translated as: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” That single step is my “next word on the page.”
When trying to attain any goal, even a difficult one, it is only necessary to break it down to doing one doable target (or short-term goal) at a time.
This doable target is your next word on the page. Reading a paragraph all at once is impossible, you must read only one word at a time. Speed-readers be damned. (Studies show that speed-readers only think they have better comprehension.)
All this relates to the genius characteristic of Devotion to Goals. You know that a goal is something you are trying to achieve. But this is devotion to goals. The root of the word comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to make a vow.’ A vow is a solemn promise.
So, if you’re devoted to achieving a goal, it’s like giving a solemn pledge to do everything you can to attain the goal. Give your word, then keep your word.
It’s much easier to keep your word when you break it down to something along the lines of the next word on the page.