Eric: Hello everyone this is Eric Pennington and welcome to The Spirit of EQ podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about the Noble Goal. Those are two big words and are kind of daunting. What’s a Noble Goal?
Jeff: A Noble Goal is something that you aspire to. It’s not like a goal like making a million dollars or being the boss or having a fancy car. It’s something that actually is the driving force in your life. It’s something that makes you get up in the morning. What gives you purpose. And it’s very interesting when you say this next sentence. It’s something you’ll never complete. It’s going to be so big that you’re always aspiring to do it better.
Eric: I had coffee with a friend a few weeks ago who was telling me that he knows a number of middle-aged men who are executives, very successful outwardly, who have told him that they really don’t know what their purposes are. Is that something you found? Is that a missing link?
Jeff: I found people that don’t have anything like that at all in their life. And I’ve also found people that have it and they’ve never named it. And by naming their Noble Goal, it makes it more part of themselves. They have it in them. They just haven’t taken the time to explore what it is.
Eric: However, you’re also saying there are some people who are actually pursuing their Noble Goal but they just haven’t identified it yet. What’s that process look like? What are some of the early steps to take in order to find out or discover what your Noble Goal is?
Jeff: There are a couple of things that you want to look at. One, what is it that gives you energy? What is it that gives you juice? These differ from business success goals. You want to ask yourself, “What do I contribute at the end of my time?” “When I’m done, what is there that people say about me and what do I want them to say?”.
Eric: I’m wondering about the verb side of the Noble Goal.
Jeff: It usually has an action, like my Noble Goal. I want to help people find the art in themselves. That’s a verb. It takes action. It’s just not something you can sit back and have.
Eric: Is there a danger in not having a verb there?
Jeff: I think there is. If you don’t have the verb, there’s no call to action. There’s nothing that you’re doing with your life. For example, let’s go with “My Noble Goal is world peace.” OK. What are you doing about it? You know my goal is to help people, one person at a time. So there’s the verb “helping.” Without the verb, it really doesn’t mean anything.
Eric: I think in some ways that maybe makes the goal a little bit more tangible, a little bit more real. Versus something that’s very lofty, that really is hard to put your arms around.
Jeff: You can look back on your day or your week and you can say “OK, I did these things that are part of my Noble Goal.” When you see results, it’s going to make it easier to move ahead.
Eric: Let’s talk about Mother Teresa. She is one of, at least for me, one of the finest people that have ever walked the planet. She seemed to be so laser-focused on her work. And if you read her book, or if you read interviews, or heard her talk…is that something that a person knows early on in their life or can they pick it up later?
Jeff: Some people have a very good idea of what their Noble Goal is at any age. It could be because of the people they are around, their parents or teachers. They have established it, but they me haven’t named it yet. But they have it. Other people might not really understand what their Noble Goal is until towards the end of their life. So it’s something that can happen anytime in your lifetime.
Eric: I’ve met a lot of people who, when I asked them what got you into doing what they are doing, and they’ll give me this personal story that connects to some event, some catalyst, that really changed the way they look at things. Is that one of the things that can really kick off a person’s Noble Goal?
Jeff: I think that one of the catalysts that helped me was prison ministry. Here in Ohio, I go to maximum security prisons. And the men that are there aren’t sentenced to that prison, they “earn their way there” by how they didn’t follow the rules, and how they acted in other prisons. Getting to know them without taking all those things into consideration, I started to realize they are a person, they have something in them. They may be a great artist. They may have the ability to write poetry. They maybe have a yearning to help other people that are deep down. And so my Noble Goal is to help them realize that’s in them. So that was the catalyst for me. And then it took me a while to realize that wasn’t just for prison work for me. That’s when I really developed my Noble Goal.
Eric: What are the five criteria that you would say go into making a Noble Goal?
Jeff: The first being that it won’t be completed in your lifetime. It’s enduring. It inspires you. It’s beyond the daily struggle. It’s not about the paycheck. Or the chores at home or anything like that. It’s beyond that. It can show up in any part of your life. Short-term thinking is important. We all have to do that. But a Noble Goal helps you focus on the long term. What is the result that I want from what my life is? It has to be something that goes out to other people that you can share just in how you interact.
Eric: Would you say on that one that the good feeling or the satisfaction you get is sort of a byproduct of making it outward?
Jeff: Very much so. It’s the juice or the energy that helps keep you moving. So that’s the benefit. And you know most things that you do from a true altruistic viewpoint almost always benefits you more than the people you’re helping. And that’s a great byproduct. It helps you move, it doesn’t drain you. The third criteria, it should integrate different domains. It affects every part of your life. Your family life, your professional life.
Eric: So in some ways could that be a tool to evaluate whether it’s a Noble Goal or whether it’s maybe some other type of goal?
Jeff: Yes! If it’s just work related, it can still be a very fantastic goal. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s not really your Noble Goal.
Eric: I think that will give our listeners a comfort that it doesn’t mean throw that business-oriented goal out. It just means that’s not the noble one.
Jeff: I’ve worked with a group of people recently where their director is working on a strategic business plan and they are really wanting a Noble Goal. They understand the importance of a strategic plan. You have to have that in a business or organization. But they want to develop a team Noble Goal, which is another thing that we didn’t mention. A Noble Goal can be an organizational Noble Goal. But now I’m having to figure out how to work with him to make sure that his strategic plan is still considered important, which it is, and then give the employees what they want.
And then the fourth criteria, it gets you out of bed. It’s what motivates you. It’s what causes to be who you are and what you want to accomplish. And it gives you the energy that you need. When you can go through a bad time and still hold onto your Noble Goal, it’s going to help you through that bad time.
Jeff: And then the last one is very important. No One Made Less. If you’re really living by a Noble Goal, no one is going to be made fun of. No one is going to be lessened or wronged because you’re looking at them as the person of who they are. So it takes away your ego. You have to have some ego to be able to accomplish anything if you want to be a speaker or a musician. You have to have the ego. But it’s when the ego takes over. And if you’re really living by Noble Goal, the ego won’t take over.
Eric: Especially in our culture, at times, the celebrity the exhibitionist, the rock star, I know we hear that term. It’s not even relatable for a lot of people in the end. And I think most people would probably be inspired when they hear and see the actions connected to a person’s Noble Goal.
Jeff: Right. I don’t want to make this sound like ego but if someone sees me taking the time to treat a person with disabilities as a human because I do see they’re human, I do see the beauty that’s in them, sometimes it’s more than the rest of us get. If somebody can see me doing that, that might help them start thinking along the same lines and it’s whatever your Noble Goal is. I can only speak for mine.
Eric: Let’s expand the vision. Moving from a mission to a Noble Goal. What does that look like?
Jeff: If you look at it from the military standpoint, you’re given a task and you go out and do it and it’s done. You’re doing a church mission to build schools someplace. It’s something that you go do and you complete. And those are very important we need to do those things. But a Noble Goal is something that goes beyond that mission. It could be the driving force of why you’re doing the mission. The mission is very much a part of the Noble Goal, but it’s not the Noble Goal. It’s what gives the mission fuel.
Eric: Simon Sinek wrote the book, Start With Why. I’ve always found that answering that question to be a revealing element as to that Noble Goal.
Jeff: I think one of the biggest things to think about. If the why is that you’re doing it because other people think you should, or the why is because you want people to think more of you, that’s not it. That’s not going to be your Noble Goal.
Eric: I think one thing that’s really important, at least I’ve found in my life and even some of the people that I’ve worked with individually, is helping them to understand not to be too hard on themselves. Because I’ve met some folks that were very very motivated, very mission oriented. And it maybe had a blend of ego and be something that’s really quite benevolent or good. And then when they discover by asking some of those questions, some of the things we’ve talked about, it leaves them a little disappointed. And I always try to remind them it’s OK because we can course correct at any time right, correct?
Jeff: Exactly. And that’s the beauty the Noble Goal. If you’re navigating someplace and something does throw you off course you can redirect your course to still get to where you want and that’s perfectly fine. That’s actually it’s going to happen. There’s no doubt that that’s going to happen.
Eric: It’s so powerful remember that this journey is not linear without interruption. And I think deep down everybody knows that. But sometimes we can forget that there are going to be disappointments, there are going to be things where we make mistakes right?
Jeff: Correct. And I don’t fulfill my Noble Goal every day. I know I don’t. Some days I almost counter my Noble Goal but that’s that’s life, that’s just you know things hit you and you really can’t help it. But it’s the idea that it’s there. You can name it. And the naming is one of the most important parts because when I’ve worked with people that really did have a Noble Goal and when they named it they understood how they could actually strive for that because they gave it a name. It’s like a light came on.
Eric: I think about how you kind of laid this out. There’s a quote that says “Live as if your choices send ripples beyond your lifetime.” That’s a very powerful quote. In itself, it might be a little daunting for folks. But the way you’ve described it seems to me that, regardless of what your walk of life is, that could describe you and your Noble Goal.
Jeff: Your life is doing that whether you have a Noble Goal or not. What you want those ripples to do is the important thing. Do you want those ripples to overturn somebody’s lifeboat and drown them? That’s not a Noble Goal. But if you want those ripples to get someone’s attention or to show them something, that’s the difference.
Eric: I was thinking about this artist who recently passed away. DAVID CASSIDY. I remember reading an interview with his daughter who said one of the last things that he said before he passed was so much wasted time. Now on the face of it there’s a gentleman that had a career that was stellar in many ways. I know he had issues toward the end of his life. But that’s not just David Cassidy, that’s you and me and our listeners. Everybody has time. We’re given that. And there’s where that Noble Goal is and the importance of it.
Jeff: If you’re truly living your Noble Goal. I don’t want to make this sound scary, but you’re on all the time. If you’re truly living it you’re going to have the times when you might fail but the wasted time is not going to be there.
Eric: I know we typically do this after every episode but where can our listeners go to to learn more about discovering their Noble Goal and setting all that in motion.
Jeff: They can go to www.spiritofeq.com, and they’ll find some things there. They will also find some links to 6 Seconds. Or they could just email me at Jeff at Spirit of Q dot com and we should soon have the worksheet that you and I have been talking about.
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