Spirit of EQ – Pursuing Noble Goals
Eric Pennington: Welcome to The Spirit of EQ Podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about pursuing noble goals. That just sounds really good. So Jeff, tell us a little bit about what noble goals are, versus, maybe, general goals, or the term “smart goals.”
Jeff East: This is the most important competency of all the other seven that we’ve talked about. Six Seconds, the company we work with, has a definition I really like. “Connecting your daily choices with your overarching sense of purpose.”
Eric: Let’s let that sink in.
Jeff: You’re right. We’ve talked about intrinsic motivation and other things like that. But it’s a lot deeper than that. It’s something that you’ll never achieve in your lifetime. We have goals like, “I want to be a millionaire.” “I want to be the president of the company.” “I want to do this.” “I want to do that.” There’s nothing wrong with them, but those are goals that are reachable. And when you reach, you’re done with that goal. So you have to set another goal. A noble goal is driving you from the time you decide what your noble goal is. You might have decided on it before you even named it. A lot of people have their noble goal. They just don’t know what it is yet. It’s what makes you who you are.
Eric: I think I’m going to unpack this a little bit, back to the definition if I could. In that definition from 6 Seconds. Connecting your daily choices with your overarching sense of purpose. We’ve got to connect our sense of purpose with that noble goal?
Jeff: Your sense of purpose becomes your noble goal. Your true sense of purpose is your noble goal.
Eric: And then when we look at our daily choices, and I know from my experience and the work side of my life to just family and personal, many people find themselves overwhelmed. They feel like they wake up each day and there are tons of choices to make. They sometimes don’t have a really good sense about which ones are connected to this noble goal and which ones are just connected to the stuff of life. Do you need to really know the difference?
Jeff: Well, with some things, yes. My car needs gas. Am I going to go to Speedway or Shell or Sonoco? OK. You’ve got to make a decision that really doesn’t have anything to do with your noble goal. My car needs gas and I know the person that will wait on me at the Speedway location is feeling down. They’re going through something in their life that we’ve connected about. So I’m going to go there so I can check in with them. The difference is getting gas or getting the gas is the secondary thing. The primary goal of going is to connect with that person that you know is going through something.
Eric: In a minute, I’m going to put you on the spot about your noble goals. I’m sure there are folks that are asking the question “How do I find my noble goal? How do I know what my noble goal is?” “How do I know what my sense of purpose is?” I’m not going to ask you to give that definitive, “Here It Is. This Is It,” type of deal. But what are some ways that people can try to unlock that or figure that out?
Jeff: The first thing to think about when you’re doing it, your noble goal should be, if possible, one sentence. No more than that. It’s something that has a lot of power packed into one sentence. So most people are not going to be able to come up with it right away. It took me probably a year to come up to define my noble goal. And I can explain that when we get into mine. But it’s looking at what other things that, at the end of the day, I’m glad I did. What are the things that give me fulfillment because I’ve made a difference? When you start looking at those things you’ll see a pattern of the most important ones. And then from there, you can define your noble goal.
Eric: It’s almost like that door that opens. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to transition here and ask you about your noble goals.
Jeff: The way I developed mine was when I was becoming an assessor for the 6 Seconds tools, the SAE, I worked with a lovely lady from California who has just a warped sense of humor like I do. We had a lot of laughter when we were doing this stuff. But working with her, when I was getting training, she performed my assessment de-brief. This is the strange story. I’ve been working on it. I kind of had a paragraph which is way too much. I heard a song by the band Jars of Clay. And the name of the song is Art in Me, where this person is asking people to see the thing that’s in them that’s beautiful. And I go “That’s it!” So my noble goal is to help people find the art that’s in them. Not necessarily art like music or painting. What is the thing that’s at their core that’s a work of art? It actually came to me on a motorcycle ride when that song popped in my head and that’s how I came to it. Here’s an example. There’s a Kroger store close to where we live and there’s a young man named Alex who has Down syndrome that works there. And my wife and I will wait in a longer line for him to bag or groceries because his art is, he makes everyone happy around him. So that’s what I’m looking for. What is in a person that defines them. What is it that is buried in them. And a lot of people don’t know what that is. So that is my noble goal. And that dovetails very nicely with counseling and coaching and things like that to help people find what is truly who they are.
Eric: One of the things that really reached out to me, besides the fact that I loved the goal. It’s really really cool. As you mentioned. Before you got to that point you were working on it. And I’m a big believer that in order to get to where you need to go you’ve got to put in the work. And it does require work. It’s a very rewarding work but it requires work. So practically speaking, what were some of the things, when you say you were working on it, was it a time where you set aside at a coffee shop and you just spent an hour just thinking or doodling or whatever. How did that work for you?
Jeff: Some of that. Some of it was just letting it run in the back of my head. A motorcycle ride is decompression time for me. Everybody laughs when I say that’s my quiet time but it is. Just to work on it that way. Sometimes I would write a sentence down or I would write a paragraph and then I would try to rewrite it and rewrite it, and it just finally clicked. For some people, when they start thinking about it, it can come instantly. For other people, it might take a couple of years and that’s OK because you have to look at what it is. And I’ve always had, and the way I was raised, my parents valued everyone, no matter what. They didn’t discriminate. They didn’t look down on anyone. They accepted everybody the way they were. That’s how I was raised. And that over the years, I tried to do that but I didn’t know I was trying to do that.
Eric: You know you mentioned the motorcycle ride, your decompression, your quiet time. And I think that’s really really powerful because I think every person should find the things, like that, that gives them energy, give them space, give them the ability to exhale. And I think that’s when those ideas start to come together.
Jeff: And it’s different for everybody. You know you can sit in your study and listen to whatever kind of music you like, walk in the woods, whatever it is that you need to do. So that your mind isn’t busy with all the daily stuff.
Eric: At the same time, we also need to look at extremes here. Take a look at those for a minute. What are some of the downside extremes of pursuing noble goals?
Jeff: The downside extreme is aimless. You just have no direction. A cause might grab you today and that burns out in a week. And another cause grabs you next week and maybe that goes for two weeks.
Eric: It’s almost like a bumblebee right? Jumping from flower to flower to flower.
Jeff: You really don’t have direction. You have a group of friends that want to work for this cause and it doesn’t interest you. But because your friends are doing it, “OK I’ll go along with it.” Instead of,”No that is not where I want to put my effort. I want to put my effort over here because it’s important to me. You know I love you guys but that’s not what I want to do.” So you get kind of just taken along by the crowd. And the other thing is, if you’re truly living your noble goal, you’re probably going to experience some pain from it. Because you’re going to put yourself out there for rejection, for discomfort, whatever. So if you’re in this aimless, you’re never going to do that. You’re going to avoid the pain, avoid the discomfort.
Eric: Oftentimes people associate that pain with a, “I shouldn’t do it, I shouldn’t pursue it.”.
Jeff: If you have truly a noble goal, you’re going to do. It’s like a parent will suffer just about anything for their child including sacrificing themselves. I’m not saying that’s what you need to do for your noble goal but you’ll have that drive, “OK, this is going to be painful for me but it’s going to be beneficial for the other person or the cause.” You know, it doesn’t have to be a person. Your noble goal might be something bigger than all of us, who knows?.
Eric: How about on the opposite end of the extreme.
Jeff: OK, the opposite is obsessed. We kind of started off talking about that like with the example of going to the gas station. All these little things need to happen because you need to live. You need to have a job. But if you become obsessed with your noble goal, you sometimes sacrifice all those things that allow you to be successful with your noble goal. So you become obsessed. But if you can meld that strong noble goal with the other competencies, like your empathy for yourself, your empathy for other people, recognizing your patterns, and all those things, then your noble goal becomes the driver, rather than the obsession.
Eric: As we try to bring this home here, the dangers again? I know you’ve described some of the extremes but there are any other dangers that leap out at you?
Jeff: It needs to be balanced. I’ve said this before on one of the other podcasts, you need to look, in our case, with these eight competencies, make sure that it’s balanced. That your noble goal is balanced with your consequential thinking. Just being more aware of your emotional intelligence. More aware of what’s going on in your brain.
Eric: A little bit of homework.
Jeff: All right I’m just going to give one of the exercises I give people that are looking for their noble goal. It’s called “The Movie Of Your Life.” So you take where you are right now and everything in the past, that script is already written. You can’t change it. But everything forward, you write the script, to come to the outcome you want which is, this sounds kind of morbid, but at your funeral, what do you want people to say about you. What do you want people to remember that you’ve done with your life? And if you start doing that, you’ll start developing your noble goal, because that’s what’s important.
Eric: I think that’s a good note to end on Jeff. We’re coming down to the end of our episode on pursuing noble goals with Jeff East. It was great spending time with you as always.
Jeff: I enjoyed it too.
You can contact Jeff and Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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