Introduction to SMART as Hell Advice
I love proverbs and quotations. I collect them. I read them. I digest them. I argue with them. I test them. Most importantly, I return to them. Often.
I use quotations repeatedly in my speeches, in my workshops, in my coaching, and in my writing. Yet no matter how many times I read, hear, or share a line like, “Progress has little to do with speed, but much to do with direction”, I never tire of it. In fact, every time I hear such a maxim, I hear it anew, in the context of that day, that place, that audience.
These words of advice provide a lens on life. Some quotes view life through a wide-angle lens. Some provide a close-up. Most articulate a basic truth that we couldn’t express without the author’s help.
Quotations and proverbs cut like a knife through the lazy language of our lives. They are an antidote to bloated paragraphs and the only productive response to self-obsessed tweets. They stand self-contained; they stand the test of time; and – most importantly – they take a stand.
While that explains why I love quotations, it does not explain why I wrote this book. Let me try again. In 2008, I assessed over 30,000 goals from businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and individuals. What did I learn? The vast majority of goals are awful: vague, lame, and irrelevant. In fact, most of the goals were counter-productive to what the goal-writer hoped to achieve.
Many of these came from the hands of people taught to write goals using the SMART acronym. SMART usually stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The acronym has been around since the 1980’s, but – judging from the goals I’ve assessed – the training doesn’t work. In fact, surveys conducted by Gallup show that almost half of employees don’t know what they are supposed to do at work.
This lack of clarity is unfortunate. It leads to misalignment, inefficiency, and frustration. And if we’re that unclear in the modern workplace, imagine how we are in the rest of our lives.
As a result of these findings, I started SMART as Hell®, a project helping individuals consistently assess, write, and realize their goals. Over the past few years, I’ve presented tools such as the SMARTometer and the SMART Storyboard at conferences, webinars, and workshops across the country.
SMART as Hell Advice is the second in a series of SMART as Hell books that will make this research available to everyone. This book serves three purposes:
- Inspire readers to create meaningful personal goals
- Provoke readers to question their goals more deeply than they ever have before
- Help readers articulate and calibrate their goals in a way that enables success
If SMART as Hell Advice can deliver on these promises, I will consider it a success.