Am I Smarter Than A Harvard Grad?

The Power of a Goal – Part Two

An Art of the Question Blog

How Can I Make More Money?

Harvard is an amazing school.  But even they don’t always get it.

There was a study done on students enrolled in the Harvard MBA program in 1979.  The results were published In What They Don’t Teach You in the Harvard Business School, by Mark McCormack. It was a pretty simple study. The students were asked, “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” When the answers were tallied, amazingly, only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans. 13% said they had goals, but had not written them down.

An astounding 84% reported that they had no specific goals.

The study picked up again ten years later. Here is what they found.  The 13% who had goals were earning approximately twice as much as those with no goals.

And the three-percenters? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97%!

The power of a goal.

What about you? What is your goal? Is it so clear that you can draw it with a crayon?  How do you set such a goal? Well, for openers, it helps to be S.M.A.R.T. 

 S.M.A.R.T. goals are: Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic, Time-bound

So how do we go about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals? 

First, we Plan. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Set aside time to brainstorm and plan.  It is critical that you know where you are going.  What is the goal? What are the steps to get there? What resources do you need? These are but a few of the questions that go into the planning phase.

I once heard a story about Einstein. He was traveling on a train, and as the conductor came through to collect tickets, he began search for his ticket. It wasn’t in his briefcase. It wasn’t in his luggage, nor his coat pocket. It was nowhere to be found.

The conductor, recognizing Einstein, said, “Don’t worry sir, I know who you are. I don’t need your ticket.” To which Einstein replied, “I too know who I am. What I don’t know is where I’m going!”

As Yogi Berra once said – if you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else!

Second, we Prepare. Preparation is the critical link between the planning and execution phase. It is at this stage that we gather the information, data, contacts or other information that we need. We organize our information, lay out our process, and assign milestones in our plan.  Write it down!  An unwritten goal is just a daydream.

Finally, we Proceed. It is execution time! Based on our planning and preparation, we move forward with action! Day by day, step by step, we work to accomplish the milestones that lead to the successful completion of our goal. Track your success!  Action without documentation is confusion,

Don’t quit. Understand from the very beginning, there will be tough days. You will be discouraged. You will be tired. You will be disillusioned. But understand this as well – there is deep magic in perseverance. Thomas Jefferson understood this. He said, “What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.”

Know this. Your goal, the success you are dreaming of is already out there, just waiting for you to catch up. This one step – setting a goal and sticking to your plan until you achieve it – changes everything.

For more information on goal setting, request the free SMART Goals™ worksheet, available through terrynewberry Seminars at


About terry newberry

Business Consulting, Seminars, Motivational teacher - Terry is a certified personal coach. He has served in leadership roles as Executive VP, VP Finance and CFO of several multinational companies. He is an award winning writer and speaker who has traveled throughout the U.S. and internationally consulting businesses and speaking in seminars, workshops and keynote addresses. Terry's client list includes Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Children's Hospital, Wake Med Hospital, Inquest, and Fortune 100 companies like AT&T and Bellsouth. 205.296.7679 View all posts by terry newberry

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