You can be focused on maintaining the status quo, goal orientated or growth orientated.

There is currently an ad on TV which I love. Two people are talking in a restaurant about starting a new business. The owner is serving these people and says something in Italian. They ask another waiter, “What did he say?” She says, “Boats are safe in the habour, but that is not what they were made for.”

I love it because it reminds me that living safe, living without a sense of adventure makes our lives all the poorer. However we can also push out into deeper water and sail the oceans with a sense of drivenness and competition. This is an equally anemic way to live.

People who are goal orientated plateau more often than those who are growth orientated. People who are growth orientated have a mastery mindset, rather than an achievement mindset.

Achievement mindsets create win/lose, good/bad dichotomies. This is not good for self-esteem and reduces the willingness to try new things. If someone sets themselves a goal, it doesn’t mean they are goal orientated, it is all about what the goal means to them. Does the goal help them push towards mastery, experimentation, pushing out of their comfort zone into the growth zone? They understand that a goal helps them gather the courage and desire to push away from land, into deep water. When we are out of our depth we grow. People who are growth orientated want to be people who reach their potential.

If, however, someone is goal orientated, then they drive themselves and others because a lot is at stake. Their self-esteem, the score card they keep in their head about whether they are winning or losing. Sometimes the goals represent something to them – power, status, respect, money, confidence, dignity, or freedom. We often don’t see what the goal represents for someone (or ourselves) but often unconsciously sense that a  lot is a stake.

When we, or someone reacts disproportionally poorly to a missed goal you know that the goal represented someone less tangible but very important to the person.

There are some people who are neither growth nor goal orientated, they are comfort or status-quo orientated. Everything they do is about avoiding effort, pain, or stress. They have decided (unconsciously) that there are limits to life. Often because of experience they believe that if you try new things, risky things then you get hurt. If you try to start a business, move house, have a relationship, be vulnerable, learn a skill that you will – be hurt, look stupid, lose money etc.

They believe this as a ‘certainity’. It means that they decide to run a small target strategy. This might mean they try and blend in, not make waves, not hope for too  choose to move beyond and transform into a growth mindset. There are many times when I find I am in a comfort mindset. Fear and uncertainty stop me from leaving the safety of the dock and launching into uncertain and deeper waters.


  • Security orientated
  • Seeks to avoid being stressed
  • Likes being ‘in control’
  • Avoids situations which cause them to feel stressed or fearful.
  • Have ‘accepted’ limits
  • Success = Comfort
  • Destination orientated– driven.
  • Motivational
  • Challenges others
  • Seasonal – they get more stressed, work hard, reach the goal then relax and plateau
  • Try new things
  • Seek perfection, have very high standards.
  • Definition of success = DOING
  • A journey – goal is part of the journey but not indicator of worth and success.
  • Seeking maturity in self and others.
  • Try new things
  • Seek mastery not perfection.
  • Seeks to bring change to self and others
  • On-going process orientated
  • Definition of success = Being and then Doing



Perfection is a standard that gets in the way of growth. Perfection, in reality is unrealistic. Therefore people who seek perfection have no standards. Perfectionistic people keep beating themselves and others up for not hitting an unattainable standard. It effects their confidence and mood.

Instead of perfection have a mindset that seeks improvement. Seek to improve just a little every day, or week. Set mini-goals. For instance, maybe you realise that you are not a patient person. A perfectionist will get upset with themselves if they are impatient just once. A growth-orientated person will set a small goal, say, not finish the sentence of my co-worker or child today. It is achievable and will build the muscle of patience.Letting go of perfection does not mean you need to let go of standards.  But it does mean accepting that we live in a real world where compromise is necessary


To develop a growth mindset we need to dream of what we could achieve and who we could become. Settling for what is creates a passive style existence. Dreaming creates energy and emotion.

Ask yourself: If I knew I couldn’t fail what would a do, attempt, try or become?Don’t censor yourself just dream. Just let them sit and percolate. There is a difference between a goal orientated dream and a growth orientated dream. A goal-orientated dream is often born in discontent. This can fuel negativity about the present. There is an aspect where they is good and right. The dangerous part is when someone can never be happy and content with what is. A growth-orientated dream seeks to celebrate and elevate strengths. They are potential orientated rather than deficit orientated.

If you can only pick out the negatives of someone or something turn it around by trying to identify the strengths inherent in what you are assessing.


I am like everyone, new things cause me to wonder if I will fail, if I will embarrass myself, if I will expose myself. I am constantly tempted to pull back and play it safe. But we know that all personal and professional growth happens when we don’t play it safe. That is why I have tried to create a mantra to do one thing – big or small which frightens me. It might be a small fright or a big fright. I don’t mean, watching horror movies or bungy jumping (they are both stupid). I mean making that phone call, asking that question, making that speech, enrolling for the course, writing a blog, having a coaching conversation (that was mine today). Where ever you see yourself procrastinating that is what you want to go after if there is fear attached.


When we are comfort or goal orientated life can seem all too serious. If we lighten up, not take ourselves or others too seriously it is amazing what comes our way.Having fun means that we are truly enjoying the journey. It might mean we slow down when we are walking through a crowd, it might mean we spontaneously decide to go away with our spouse, or laugh out loud when we make a big mistake at work.Injecting some fun and humour can take the pressure of our need or desire to perform. Interestingly having fun also means we are more open to learn, listen and appreciate.

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