Goal of Consequence

Oct 1, 2017 00:00 · 1086 words · 6 minutes read goals ihaac leadership vision

“To use technology to increase humanity’s collective altruism and cognition over the next ten years.”

Lately I’ve been thinking about a chapter in my life that is coming to a close. My journey through university as an undergrad is nearly over.

I imagined this would cause a natural sense of uncertainty that arises with changes of this nature. Graduation brings with it full time work and moving off campus, providing the means to be fully independent. For most this is a scary, but exciting shift to see on the horizon.

Yet, with some more thought and meditation I’ve realised this explanation only touches the surface.

Since I was eleven my goal has been to become a Software Engineer. At that age people often palmed me off as a young, ambitious kid who dreamed but didn’t quite know what he wanted. Ten years later I’m about to have that dream realised, and I’m still certain of my decision.

I took some time to look back on that decision and how I was able realise my goal. Everything I had done had the aim of moving towards become a Software Engineer. At the highest level: I went through high school to go to uni, and now I’m going through uni to achieve a qualification that will achieve my goal.

And so it’s become clear that the uncertainty I’ve been feeling is a result of not having set my next goal. Everything I do is with a purpose and is inline with a vision I have set for myself. When I don’t have a goal I don’t know what I’m aiming for. I feel lost and out of control.

Understanding Goals of Consequence

I started reading Fierce Reinvention by Rand Leeb-du Toit. Rand is my Dad and while I’m not writing to plug his book and say how good it is, it is a very insightful and inspiring read.

I’ve heard my Dad mention many times before the phrase “goals of consequence.” And it’s a term that’s explained well in the book:

Traditional goal-setting frameworks are somewhat of a yawn: STAR (Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) and PRISM (Personal, Realistic, Interesting, Specific and Measurable) aren’t designed to fill us with enthusiasm when we wake up each morning.

And yet that is precisely what goals should do! They should help us to overcome fear, produce wonder and build excitement. Such goals amount to Goals of Consequence. We have to step up to achieve them. These goals help us find the right level of courage to make a difference.

Rand’s book showed me that the journey I started when I was eleven was a goal of consequence. At the time it incurred both fear and excitement. And even though I didn’t know exactly how I was going to get there, holding onto it kept me moving in the right direction.

His book has also guided me to realise what my next goal of consequence is.

The Goal

Technology, specifically software, is an obsession of mine. It has always been there and I can’t imagine it ever leaving. I love that tech can provide humans with what often feels like magic.

The internet allows us to communicate with anyone in the world, and have an infinite amount of knowledge. Servers around the world solve problems faster than thousands or even millions of humans and never stop to take a break. Robots have a part in building almost everything we touch and never make a mistake. And our laptops and phones give us access to all of this, all of the time.

Wherever we are, whenever we want we can become faster, smarter, and better at accomplishing whatever it is we’re working on. This idea is at the core of my interactions with software. It is what motivated me to become a Software Engineer and will continue to drive me forward in my career.

But there is something else as well. When I was doing the Conscious Business course at the start of the year I came across Jeff Weiner’s personal vision:

“To expand the world’s collective wisdom and compassion.”

Reading this for the first time had a big impact on me. I hadn’t thought of the importance of empathy, compassion, and altruism in this setting before. I found that Fred Kofman puts it better than I ever could:

“Wisdom without compassion is ruthlessness, compassion without wisdom is folly.”

Just as Jeff did before, I realise now that I mustn’t neglect the human element of what I’m working on. At the end of the day we are all humans and technology should be enhancing that, not diminishing it.

So it is the combination of these two thoughts that excite and drive me the most. Combining them together, and after a few attempts, I arrived at a conscious goal that really resonated with me.

“To use technology to increase humanity’s collective altruism and cognition over the next ten years.”

Firstly, this goal includes my passion for tech, as I’ve explained above, and the power that it can provide to its users. Next we have ‘humanity’ which outlines that this is a human goal, and something I want to achieve for everyone. For all of humanity. Finally there’s ‘altruism’ and ‘cognition’.

‘Altruism’ refers to selflessness and compassion for the well-being of others. And ‘cognition’, to cognitive ability: your awareness, understanding, judgement, and knowledge.

To put it in other words: I am setting a goal that in ten years I would’ve used technology to have made a positive impact on the altruism and cognitive power of humanity as a collective.

For me that is one scary goal. It brings me a lot of fear that I will not be able to achieve it. But it also induces excitement. The type that is hard to contain. With an intensity that requires action and progress.

Where to from here

The conscious goal I have set out to achieve is not going to be easy. But that’s not what I want, nor what I need. I need something to aim for that brings me both a lot of fear and a lot of excitement and I can guarantee that this does both.

As I’m writing this I can’t say I’m sure what achieving this goal is going to look like. I can’t even tell you how I’m going to get there. But I can tell you that it will create a major shift in our lives and in the way we view ourselves and our connection with technology.