Norton: When our sail is attached to someone else’s boat |

Norton: When our sail is attached to someone else’s boat

Michael Norton

Too often we seem to attach our sail to someone else’s boat, don’t we? Or, we hitch our wagon to someone else’s horse and let others control or dictate our direction in life. Their goals don’t just become our goals, their goals become the tasks and the to-do’s we live out each day as we watch our own dreams fade into the distance.

As an on-again/off-again entrepreneur trapped inside a corporate executive’s body, I totally get this concept. There are times when I have built my own boat and set my own sails and have met with tremendous success. And there have been other endeavors where, let’s just say my boat took on too much water, ending my venture with my sails tattered and torn. But, in both victory and defeat, the sails were mine, the boat was mine, and the dreams and goals were mine.

The concept is not just for entrepreneurs — the idea of having our own goals and dreams is for everyone. When we are happily employed and engaged in meaningful work that satisfies our own desires that is a beautiful thing, too. When we feel fulfilled and when we feel like we are contributing to the greater good, this is a wonderful outcome. Our sails are absolutely attached to the right boat or our horses are hitched to the right wagon. Life is good.

The trick is knowing and understanding when we are doing things that are as meaningful and purpose-driven for ourselves as they are for our employer or any organization we serve. Because, believe it or not, there are people and companies out there who still believe that we should be in it for their personal gain and not our own. They set our goals and objectives for us, they establish our quotas, our tasks and to-dos are on their radar as they try and manage our deliverables and results. Good management, strong leadership, and companies with a great “people-driven culture” will know how to motivate the right behaviors and manage the proper expectations and results.

But here’s the deal: Even if we are blessed enough to work for an outstanding boss or company who sets good goals and objectives, communicates expectations and results consistently, and we are happily employed and engaged in what we do, if we do not challenge ourselves to think bigger and set our own productivity goals higher than what the company sets for us, it means we have still just attached our sail to their boat.

Whatever it is we choose to do in this world, we should be the one who sets our own course and we are the ones who should hold ourselves accountable to the results we want to deliver. And we should never do this just for the company or someone else, but we need to do this because it gives us freedom and empowerment as we attach our own sail to our own boat.

It is so easy to just be another status quo employee, or bare minimum entrepreneur. It is probably easy to laugh at this column about reaching higher or doing more for a company or person that doesn’t quite appreciate us today. Some of you may be saying to yourself that your situation is different and that I am off base or out of touch with reality, and that’s OK. What I would say to you is that everyone’s situation is different, some harder, some easier, but at the end of the day we all get to make our own choice when it comes to participating in life, at home and at work.

So how about you? Are you following your own path and setting your own goals? Or are your dreams in the hands of someone else? I would love to hear your story at and when we can attach our sail to our own boat, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is the Chief Revenue Officer for Eventus Solutions Group, a strategic consultant, business, and personal coach, and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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