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Shooting for the stars

Written by Ian Christelow on Thursday, 14 January 2021. Posted in People

The keys to achieving goals lie in asking the right questions, the power of the pen and emotions, says Ian Christelow of ActionCOACH.

Shooting for the stars

The keys to achieving goals lie in asking the right questions, the power of the pen and emotions, says Ian Christelow of ActionCOACH.

Has your New Year’s resolution failed already?  If so, you’re not alone. Perhaps you talked yourself out of your goal, or maybe someone else did. Perhaps it’s because you didn’t write it down. In short, raising a cup of cheer and proclaiming it to friends and family on New Year’s Eve isn’t as powerful as writing it down on a piece of A4 paper. But please don’t ask me why, I have no idea. It just is.

I had an incredible slice of fortune in January 2004, which I’m sharing in the hope that it brings good fortune for the readers of Elite Franchise. I was at an airport when, suddenly, this book caught my eye. It was titled: ‘7 Strategies for Wealth and Happiness: Power Ideas from America's Foremost Business Philosopher, Jim Rohn.

It could easily have been just another one of the many books that remains unread, but the first chapter ‘Unleash the Power of Goals’ got my attention and as I turned the pages, unwittingly my life had begun to change. At the end of the chapter, I rushed back to the hotel to purchase a note pad and began capturing some of the many thoughts which had entered my mind. The rest of the day was a complete write-off for my partner, as I immersed myself in Jim Rohn’s wise words. 

Goal setting had always seemed such a boring exercise (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Framed). But, all of a sudden, I was tapping into the energy of emotion and writing down stretching goals which meant the world to me. Many of these goals seemed unrealistic for me and I didn’t know whether some of these goals were achievable or not, but I committed them to paper and they excited me just thinking about them.

The process Jim Rohn had mapped out was certainly having an effect on me – and I couldn’t stop writing. By asking me six great questions, on six separate areas of my life, the answers seemingly flowed from nowhere. Take a pen and paper, and try it yourself. During the next 10 years what do you want to:

1) Do?

2) Become? (The main purpose of goals is that it turns you into the person you need to become in order to achieve them. Income rarely exceeds personal development).

3) See?

4) Have?

5) Where do you want to go?

6) And what would you like to share?

Jim Rohn challenged me to go to the ocean with a pail, instead of a thimble, and he outlined life’s four great motivators as being:

1) Recognition

2) The feeling of winning

3) Family

4) Benevolence

He’d certainly hit a nerve with me.  Every driver was massive.

All of a sudden I was focussed on winning ActionCOACH’s ‘Team of the Year’, because I wanted mum and dad to be proud of me. And in March 2009 I achieved one of my ambitions at the European Conference in London. I invited my parents to the awards’ dinner where Brad Sugars thanked my mum and dad – from the stage – for doing a great job in raising my brother Mark and I. It was a magical moment for my family when I collected this European award for the team.  

By the time the Global Conference came along a few months later, my dad wasn’t well enough to travel to Australia. With Julie looking after our first born, I flew solo in hope more than expectation. After 12 years of Australasian monopoly, I wasn’t overly optimistic that we could get our hands on the ‘Global Team of the Year’ title, which is a highly sought after prize in more than 80 countries.

So when Brad Sugars opened the envelope and announced our names, it was a total shock. As soon as I’d accepted this award on behalf of our team, I rushed off stage to tell my dad. We chatted for 45 minutes and two days later he passed away. I felt at peace, knowing I’d made my dad proud. And I’m certain without Jim Rohn’s guidance, none of this would have happened.

On a personal note, the ‘Have’ section got me thinking about a boyhood dream of owning an Aston Martin and imagining feeling like James Bond as I took to the open road. A couple of years later my ActionCOACH franchise hit the profit target I’d set to place my order, which led to a conversation with the sales manager about demand pushing back my car to March ’07 and 007 number plates – perhaps the universe had listened! 

The goal setting exercise also prompted me to start helping causes that were close to my heart. I subscribe to the view that there’s nothing more motivating than helping someone, and then knowing you’ve made a real difference when you feel their gratitude. One of my donations was to Histon Football Club. I just loved how they taught their academy players life skills and philosophy, as well as football and fitness. For five years, the club gave me back so much more. The local village school won the Football Association’s English Schools Cup, the 1st team rose to the top of the non-league fraternity, and they even knocked the mighty Leeds United out of the FA Cup live on television. Yet I believe it could have been so much more, if I’d have taught them about the science of goal setting. 

As well as writing down your goals, you have to be specific. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that Histon’s overall goal of becoming the first village team to play in the Football League had been shortened to simply ‘play in the Football League.’ And this is what happened. Some individual players did reach that level, although the club sadly never did. 

In my final season of attending matches, Histon lost narrowly to Torquay in a Conference play-off semi-final. Torquay would go on to win promotion back to the English Football League. The match was televised and the only first team player with Football League experience was our goalkeeper Lance Key, who subsequently retired. Despite losing to Torquay, youngsters Jack Midson and Patrick Ada were snapped up by Crewe Alexandra and Oxford United.  

With Histon FC’s first team now depleted of top talent, relegation followed relegation. The honour of becoming the first village team to compete in one of the top four divisions of English football eventually belonged to Forest Green Rovers – not Histon. My guess is that Rovers’ owner Dale Vince wrote down his goals clearly and attached heaps of emotion to it.

I’m guessing he communicated his ambitions to everyone at the club, with major decisions based on whether they moved the club closer to their goal or not. Setting common goals certainly focusses minds on what is important, while helping to filter out anything considered unhelpful.

One of these days, I hope to meet Dale Vince to find out. One thing’s for sure, his goal was not merely to play in tier four of English football. His declared public goal for Forest Green Rovers was to secure Championship status (tier two). This is a classic case of shooting for the stars and reaching the moon. And it begs the question, why not aim higher?

About the Author

Ian Christelow

Ian Christelow

Ian Christelow has a deep-rooted passion for helping companies succeed. Having watched his father’s business fail as a child, Ian understands the devastating consequences of business failure. When he came across the ActionCOACH brand in 2001, no one really knew what a business coach was, but Ian could see it was the cure for the blight which kills 9 out of 10 UK businesses inside their first decade of trading.

He and his partner, Julie Wagstaff, have spent the last 18 years growing the franchise in the UK to over 200 franchise owners, becoming the most successful out of over 70 ActionCOACH countries. This is a result of the support structure of over 60 UK-based team members put in place for the franchise network; investing £250,000 in an exclusive lead and client generation centre and developing strategic alliances with many other companies to introduce thousands of business owners to the solution.

His ultimate goal is for ActionCOACH to become a household brand and the go-to place to grow your business successfully.

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