The older I get, the less often I am surprised. So, I was particularly delighted when I found a video that beautifully demonstrates how to accomplish a goal. As the mother of two teenagers, I watch a lot of YouTube and TikTok. Oh sure, I pay for cable and multiple streaming services, but whenever I ask them what they want to watch, they always choose YouTube or TikTok. One such evening, my son showed me a video by a popular YouTube star, SmallAnt, who had set the goal to become the world’s fastest pencil sharpener. At first, I thought it was silly, but the more I watched, the more engrossed I became. SmallAnt followed the exact same steps that I use when training business leaders and employees to accomplish their goals.
First, he sets a clear goal. He begins with the goal of becoming the fastest pencil sharpener in the world. He finds a website dedicated to pencil sharpening and learns there are different categories of pencil sharpening records—manual and automated. He decides on manual. Then, he finds a leaderboard with the best times. Now, his goal is clarified as: To become the fastest manual pencil sharpener in the world by sharpening ten pencils in under 35 minutes and 35 seconds.
Second, he makes a plan. We have all heard the axiom, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” SmallAnt experiments with three different pencils and two sharpeners as well as two types of gloves.
Third, he attempts to achieve his goal and fails. Seldom does success come on our first try. In SmallAnt’s first attempt, some of the pencils get stuck, and the high-end sharpener does not work as well as expected. However, he does earn fifth place on the pencil sharpening leaderboard.
Fourth, he perseveres. Right before his second attempt, he sees that the leaderboard has changed. The new time to beat is 11 minutes, so he adjusts his goal. He tries a different sharpener that works better and has a new personal best, 30 minutes. Had the leaderboard not changed, this would have gotten him to his goal. Instead, he moves up to fourth place.
Right before his third attempt, he sees the leaderboard has changed again. The new time to beat is 3 minutes 50 seconds. He feels like giving up, but then receives a message from the leader offering to share his knowledge and tools. The leader shares his technique of using his feet to hold the sharpener and spinning the pencil by rubbing it between his hands. On the fourth attempt, SmallAnt’s time goes down to 8 minutes 58 seconds, improving his initial time by over 20 minutes! He knows he is on the right track. Throughout his fifth, sixth, and seventh attempts, SmallAnt keeps adjusting his technique and uses different tools.
Finally, he succeeds. By sitting on the floor instead of in a chair, holding the sharpener between his legs instead of his feet, wearing shorts instead of pants, using a sharpener that he knows will not jam, having a couple of back up sharpeners, and using premium pencils, his eighth attempt takes 3 minutes 38 seconds—a new world record!
While SmallAnt’s goal may be different from your own, the steps are the same — set a clear goal, make a plan, give it a try, learn from your mistakes, overcomes obstacles, and do not give up. One key element in SmallAnt’s success was finding the right tools and getting advice from the leader.
So, whether your goals are to set a world record or grow and develop your business while optimizing spend, you can succeed using these steps. If your goals are “powered by people,” as we like to say, then you’ve come to the right place.
That’s what we do here at Omnia. We help you define clear goals, make a plan, and give you the right tools and advice to succeed. Our behavioral assessments empower you to make hiring, promotion, and employee development decisions that are backed by data and aligned to meet your business goals.