Goal Setting Success – Flat World Thinking

As we were growing up, most of us were taught WHAT to think, but most of us were never taught HOW to think. Why is that a problem? Consider this:

For every 100 Americans at age 65:

1 will be wealthy

4 will be financially independent

32 will be dead (they never learned how to take care of themselves – or ignored it)

63 will be dead broke (hoping Social Security or their family will bail them out)

In other words, 95% of people never figure it out! As you were growing up, your parents were the first ones that taught you how the world worked. Then your teachers were telling you. Next your bosses on the job were telling you how the world worked. What are the odds that some of what you were taught and what you believe will help you succeed in the world is wrong? – about 95%! We got a lot of bad information, but if we believe that information is true, and behave as though it is true – we will probably end up like the 95%! It is almost a certainty.

Our limiting thoughts are what keep us where we are – keep us from achieving our goals. Let me give you a couple of examples.

What was going on in the world in 1491? We all know what happened in 1492 – but more importantly, what was going on in 1491? Columbus was preparing to sail around the world. His challenge was that he lived in a world of ‘flat world’ thinkers (at least 95% of them! – There is an ancient verse that says, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” – If you think the world is flat, you will act as though the world is flat). The first thing Columbus had to do was raise the money to build the ships. Can you imagine him going to the bankers to get a loan? Would you agree that bankers are by-and-large a rather conservative bunch? So Columbus is trying to sell the bankers on the idea and the bankers are saying, “You want to do WHAT?! You’ll sail off the edge of the earth and I’ll lose my investment. Forget it!”

Columbus finally convinces Queen Isabella to finance the deal. Now he has to raise a crew — from flat-world thinkers. What kind of response do you suppose he got from that? “Are you nuts? I’m not going to go out there and sail off the edge of the earth!” (That was the 95%…..) And you think you have a tough sell in your business? People will only operate within the confines of what they think is possible.


Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile barrier on May 6, 1954. It was called the “greatest athletic achievement of all time”. Prior to Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute barrier it was thought humanly impossible to accomplish such a feat. In fact doctors and physiologists of the day said that it would exceed the capacity of the human heart to perform. They believed the heart would give out and you would die if you ever pushed your body to that level of effort. If you believed that were true and you were the star miler on your college track team, and you had trained to the maximum for an upcoming event, what might happen? Suppose as you finish your first lap you hear your coach yell. “59.8!!!”. After you finish your second lap, you hear your coach yell, “59.9!!!”. After your third lap you hear your coach yell, “59.9!!!!!!”. How long will it take you to run the fourth lap? At least 60.5 seconds. Why? Because you know that if you keep up this pace, your heart is going to give out and you are going to die! So, subconsciously you back off just enough, that when you finish you hear, “4:01!” and you think, “Way to go, you are awesome!” But is there a possibility that you could have broken four minutes? Probably. Was it your legs, your heart or your lungs that kept you from doing it? Maybe not. It more than likely was your thinking, your belief system that held you back – that if you were to run a 4-minute mile, you would die.

But then, Roger Banister had the unmitigated gall to break the 4-minute barrier – and not die. Isn’t it interesting that within six weeks John Landy broke Bannister’s record and within one year 5 other runners broke the 4-minute barrier? Do you think it was just a rather fortuitous alignment of the stars, that in that particular year, seven runners broke the 4-minute barrier? Or could it be that once people thought it was possible (without dying), they could go out and do it. Today the record stands at 3:43. Any middle-distance runner today that can’t run a sub-four-minute mile, might as well not even compete. Today, in world-class competition it is the expectation – the price of entry – the norm.

What limiting thoughts are keeping you from the success that you desire? If we don’t think we can ‘break the barrier’ or sail ‘around the world’ or make that really big deal or have that really terrific relationship – we will continue to sabotage our own behavior and success.

For additional resources on this topic, go to: http://www.godinyourgoals.com