Put Up Or Shut Up = Mommy or Yoda?

I‘ve been thinking a lot lately about the conflict between the two different schools of thought regarding goals and the effort it takes to meet them.  One is represented by the inspirational saying “Shoot for the moon – you may land among the stars.”  Remember your mother saying “I don’t care if you succeed – only that you try your best”?  These statements represent the idea that it is the effort that matters, and that a strong effort  IS the success, or at least brings some kind of success. I’ll call it the “Mommy” school.

The second school of thought is the Yoda school, illustrated by his statement: “Do or do not. There is no try.”  Remember  Gene Kranz in the movie Apollo 13?  “Failure is not an option.”  Either the Apollo 13 astronauts returned safely or they didn’t.  Advocates believe that it is failure, and/or the fear of it, that will keep you from achieving success, and that only completeness represents achievement.

So which one of those ideas should prevail if I am examining my 2010 Put Up Or Shut Up  goals, originally posted on Victorio Milian’s Creative Chaos blog?  Here is what I Put Up a year or so ago:

  • I will step up my efforts with SHRM, local and national, to improve the HR community and help increase collaboration among members.
  • I will do something every day that helps me develop professionally – attend a webinar or conference, write a blog, read or write a white paper, etc.
  • I will become a more active networker – phone calls, Skype, etc. This is the hardest part of all for me because I am kind of shy!

Here is what I did with each:

1.  I volunteered for my local SHRM communications committee, and became a regular contributor to their newsletter. I also started encouraging members to become aware of HR bloggers and I continue to publish a feature called “5 to Follow” in our local newsletter, suggesting blogs.  I have regularly contributed to the group on LinkedIn.  My efforts to get the local more involved in Twitter, though, have completely failed. I have offered to run free classes for members, and have offered suggestions for the chapter to use and get involved in Twitter.  All of those efforts have been rebuffed outright. Nationally, I went to the SHRM Legislative/Legal update in Washington, DC and made some new connections, but haven’t done much else at the national level.

2.  Okay, I admit to not actually doing something every day.  BUT – on some days I do several things.  I clearly do far more, overall, than I did before I made the pledge.   I have done enough to earn about 80% of my SPHR recert requirements in just one year.  I repeat, though, I don’t do something every day.

3.  I have developed my network greatly, and my network is about 3  times larger than it was a year ago.  It certainly could be better, and it could be more diverse, and it could have more local people.  I am still finding it hard to connect with people locally, even though I have made some special local efforts.

Do  you now see my conflict? Did I fail, because there isn’t one item that couldn’t have been achieved more completely?  The Yoda school seems to say I failed.  The Mommy school, on the other hand, might argue  that I had sufficient success because I tried quite hard.  I may not have reached the moon, but I probably reached the stars.

I’m repeating these goals for 2011, so maybe that’s the answer; if I hadn’t failed, my goals would be entirely new.  What do you think, though?  Which school of thought is more relevant? Or reasonable? Or sensible?  Did I fail or succeed?  Have you been faced with the same choice?  Use the comments to tell me!

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4 thoughts on “Put Up Or Shut Up = Mommy or Yoda?”

  1. “[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail.”
    Joan – you believe! Thanks for being in my tight HR network. I believe in you.

    Another great quote: “Lather rinse, repeat.” Makes for a better result!

  2. Lather, rinse, repeat is a great quote, Lyn. I’ll keep thinking of that as I move through 2011. I have the best HR network in the world and I am so glad you are a part of it.

  3. Well, I am a mommy so I can’t completely get away from my biases! On the other hand, the “reach for the moon” saying doesn’t make much sense because the stars are much farther away from the earth than the moon, making it unlikely you’ll hit the stars by mistake.

    But I digress. Sometimes our goals are pretty concrete, i.e., pass the SPHR, run an 8K. If I don’t meet those goals, I can tell myself I still learned a lot and benefited from the process, which is true, but not meeting those outcomes still royally sucks! On the other hand, if you have a goal like doing something every day to help develop professionally, and some days you do 12 things and on other rare occasions you don’t do anything specific, I think the answer is that you’ve met your goal. Is it more important to stick rigidly to a somewhat arbitrary timetable, or is it more important to relentlessly move in the direction of your goals, even if your progress isn’t always even? I say the latter.

  4. Krista, I knew someone would say that it “depended on the goal” because it obviously does to a degree. I am just not sure that isn’t somewhat of a cop-out, because even though it may not be important to stick to an arbitrary timetable, it still is measurable if you do or do not. I think there really is a school of thought that if you don’t meet that part of the goal that you can measure – you have failed, whether or not the failure is important or incidental. And aren’t we, as HR practitioners, constantly being chided about measurement and metrics?

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