“Yard by yard it’s hard, but inch by inch it’s a cinch.”
That was one of my grandfather’s favorite mantras. He had very little formal education, but a boatload of wisdom. And when he faced something that was particularly tough, he tackled it one strategic step at a time.
Setting—and achieving—goals is something most of us have struggled with. But learning to do it right (even if only inch by inch) is a key our wellbeing.
Shanna Hocking understands that. She’s led teams and raised hundreds of millions of dollars at organizations such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Alabama, Duke University, national nonprofit organizations, global businesses, and family foundations.
As a working mother (yes, I realize that’s a redundant phrase, but you know what I mean), she’s managed to be successful in the business world while maintaining a strong personal/home life.
Rodger Dean Duncan: Some people are reluctant to speak up in settings, advocate for the cause they value, or challenge views they regard as faulty. What price are they paying for this reluctance?
Shanna A. Hocking: It can feel uncomfortable to speak up in meetings or disagree with someone, and you’re unfortunately missing an opportunity to share your perspective. People—and women, in particular—often think their work will speak for itself, but this is rarely true. You are your own best career advocate.
Duncan: You say that “bold moves” are not always “big” things, but can be as simple as asking the restaurant server to correct his mistake and give you the salad dressing you actually ordered. How do such “small” bold moves help prepare someone for those with bigger impact?
Hocking: Bold Moves are intentional actions that help you move forward, learn, and grow. I try not to classify whether a move is “small” or “big,” because the beautiful thing about a Bold Move is you define it for yourself.
What a Bold Move looks like to you will evolve over time, just as you do. When you’re working toward your biggest goals, it’s helpful to break the goal into pieces, so you can make progress and celebrate it. Say, for example, that you’d like to run a half marathon. Running a marathon in and of itself is a Bold Move, and what meaningful actions will you take each day to work toward this goal, such as signing up, creating a training plan, waking up early to run, etc. Those are also Bold Moves, because they’re moving you in the direction you want to go toward your goal.
Duncan: To show up for themselves and others, you say, a person can benefit from four mindsets: (1) Gratitude Mindset, (2) And Mindset, (3) Happiness Mindset, and (4) Progress Mindset. Please explain.
Hocking: These four mindsets become the foundation of your Bold Move Mindset. Each of the mindsets plays a special role and contributes to your success in a different way and they all complement each other.
The Gratitude Mindset helps you to find things to be grateful for each day, so you stay present.
The And Mindset helps you accept two seemingly competing truths at the same time—the both/and in the moment, rather than the either/or—such as finding joy even in challenge.
The Happiness Mindset helps you understand that happiness comes from the journey, not the outcome.
The Progress Mindset helps you celebrate how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned.
People often ask me if they have to develop all mindsets at once. It takes time and practice. If you want to get started somewhere, I suggest the Gratitude Mindset, which fundamentally changed my career and life by helping me see the good in the world and people around me—including in myself.
Duncan: What kind of limiting beliefs seem to be most common in people’s path to self-actualization?
Hocking: People often think they’re not good enough and don’t belong in the roles or rooms they’re in.
The Bold Move mindset shifts your thinking to focus on your learning and capacity to grow. When you give yourself grace to realize you don’t have to have everything figured out at once, you can focus on taking actionable steps toward your growth. In time, this will build your confidence.
Duncan: What seems to be the key to successful goal setting and achievement?
Hocking: Successful goal setting and achievement come from being clear on what you want to achieve—and why. This creates a system to set you up for success, celebrating progress, and finding a friend or accountability partner to support you.
Duncan: What role does a willingness to be vulnerable play in a person’s ability to establish and reach challenging goals?
Hocking: It takes vulnerability to set clear, ambitious goals, especially goals that others may try to deter you from considering or achieving. It also takes vulnerability to share your goals with others. I say this as someone who didn’t want to set or share her goals out loud (even to myself) for many years for fear of not reaching them.
When I first started working toward the book, I worried about what people would think and whether they would support me. Over time, I practiced sharing my book goal with people close to me, so they could both encourage me and hold me accountable in working toward what mattered to me.
Duncan: What does a bold “performance pattern” look like in terms of observable behaviors?
Hocking: Bold Move Performance Patterns are priorities that help you grow as a person. These can include learning, hobbies, exercise, and even rest.
Say you decide you want to read more for your Bold Move performance pattern. You’ll need to create structure and intention for your goal. Maybe you’ll spend the first ten minutes of each day reading a book, or you’ll read during your lunch break instead of scrolling Instagram. If that feels too overwhelming, start with 15 minutes each weekend. Your goal is to create consistency for yourself, so it becomes less of a choice each time.
Another way to do this is carry a book with you when you’re out, so your reading is more accessible to you. Investing in your own development will look different for each person, and whatever you choose will improve your happiness, wellbeing, and quality of life.
Duncan: In what ways can people lead boldly when they don’t have a leadership title?
Hocking: Leadership is not defined by your title or authority, but the energy by which you serve and show up for others. Take time to support your colleagues, connect dots across the organization, and share your ideas, all of which will strengthen your organization and develop your leadership.
Duncan: How can leaders create and maintain an organizational culture that encourages people to adopt a “bold move” mentality?
Hocking: When leaders value their employees and care about them as people, their employees feel supported personally and professionally. Knowing that their leader and organization are invested in them will help team members feel motivated to innovate, learn, and achieve their goals.