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September 18, 2009

One might think, based on what I write, that I strive to be an overachiever...an "A" type personality...an Alpha Male...but those who know me well, know that I am anything but those descriptions.

In fact, for most of my early life I was a lazy chronic underachiever...you know...one of those kids whose teachers report back to the parents..."Jimmy has the ability but chooses not to use it...getting by in life by doing the minimum work"

I often see this personified in gifted athletes, students, and business professionals...I ask myself the proverbial "Why?" when I see these natural abilities go wasting away...

About the time I was 18, I decided that I didn’t like the way my life was progressing and set out to make certain changes in my life by changing my habits and lifestyle...not all at once...but gradually over the past 30 years...

During this time, I have formulated a theory as to why some people succeed while other people flounder.  Success in my opinion comes down to four primary factors...two that are controllable and two that aren’t...

  1. Some natural talent and abilities
  2. Goals
  3. Hard work
  4. Some luck (or lack of bad-luck)
Items 1 and 4 above are typically beyond control of most people.  No matter what...I could never be a professional basketball player...no matter how many goals I set or how hard I worked..it wasn’t going to happen for me...

So if natural talent and luck are uncontrollable...let’s focus on the things that we can control.  Goals and hard work...I like to think that work is the mechanism that moves you from place to place...while a goal is the direction in which your work moves you...together these two elements can take you to the places where you want to go...

I am a big believer in creating SMART goals (first coined by the management guru Peter Drucker in 1954).  Setting and working toward achieving SMART goals are the best way I know of improving a person’s chances for success. 

A SMART goal is:

S:  Specific
M:  Meaningful
A:  Attainable
R:  Relevant
T:  Timely


A goal should be straightforward and easy to comprehend.  The specifics includes who, what, where, how, when.  The more specific the better chance of it occurring.  The specific goal must be written down with milestones recorded.

Review the following two examples as two goals:

Regular goal:  Lose weight

SMART goal:  I will lose 15 lbs by November 15th at a rate of 2 lbs per week by limiting my consumption of calories to 1500 per day and by walking before dinner for at least 1 hour every Monday, Thursday, and Sunday and going to the gym on Tuesday and Saturday.

Which of these goals is most likely to be accomplished?


If the goal specifics are the who, what, how, when and where...then the meaning is the why.  Goals are a way to make improvements and a tool to become a better person...

The SMART goal is meaningful.  It should make a significant difference in your life, your family’s life, your paycheck, your health, the community, etc...

Your SMART goal should not be easy to accomplish and should be just within your reach if you work hard at achieving the goal.  Achieving a goal too easily doesn’t cause you to grow throughout the process...


My life-long dream of playing in the NBA isn’t attainable...
My desire of being a billionaire isn’t attainable...
My hope that OptiFuse will join the Fortune 500 isn’t attainable...


My goal of riding my bike down the California coast next fall is attainable...
My goal of being debt-free is attainable
My goal of having OptiFuse join the Inc. 5000 of fastest growing companies is attainable...

All SMART goals should be within someone’s reach if hard-work and a bit of luck is applied...


A goal must be relevant to my life or others around me.  I feel sorry for those people who’s life-long goal has been for the Cubs to win a world series...unless you’re the owner or employed by the team the team, there is very little relevance in improving your particular life...(I’m not picking on Cubs fans...)

Goals should make a direct difference.  It should be something that you’re personally able to accomplish yourself or with the help of others that you directly manage.


All goals should have a time-line.  A definite start and a definite finish as well as milestones along the way to gauge your success and/or failures.

An old wrestling coach of mine once told me that "goals are just dreams with timelines"

Perhaps only a few of us have SMART goals already established...but I belive that almost all of us have dreams...now it just a matter of setting our timeline and getting SMART...

Thank you very much for supporting our company as we try strive to achieve our goal of becoming the best supplier in the industry...

Jim Kalb


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