Focus on Ends Rather than Means

Posted on October 24, 2023

Adults rarely make quantum leaps, but small children make them all the time. You want to know why? The little ones focus on ends, rather than means.

Kids have no hang-up about technique. Being so young and inexperienced, they’re often practically devoid of “methodology.” But they’re openminded, goal-focused, and true believers in experimentation. They lock in mentally on their objective, and seem quite willing to let the goal determine the methodology. In fact, they proceed such that the goal often creates the methodology. The child does something for the first time ever, it works, and inherent potential is discovered. The necessary technique, the “means,” just sort of evolves in the process.

Grownups get it all backward. Adults can’t seem to choose a goal without simultaneously evaluating their resources and personal repertoire of skills to see if they “have what it takes” to reach the objective. The adult’s command of technique, methodology, or resources then becomes the screening device used to select the “appropriate” goal. The choice of goals (the ends) depends too heavily on what the individual perceives as his or her obvious, available methodologies (the means).

Look, if you’ve set your sights on a big and challenging goal—a quantum leap sort of ambition—there’s very little chance that you’ll possess everything you need at the outset. You won’t have all the resources, the total skill set, or even a detailed plan for reaching your goal. So what should you do?

The common mistake is to get lost in the boneyard of preparation. But there are too many unknowns. You can’t even know how to prepare; you’d just be guessing. “Getting ready” is where big dreams go to die. Instead, you should “get going.” If you have a well-defined goal and a few ideas on how to begin, then go. Begin the pursuit, because that’s the fastest way to learn what to do next and what you’ll need.

This methodology trap—a preoccupation with “how to”—nurtures doubt, lowers your aspirations, and sabotages your chances of making a quantum leap.

So start by working on defining your goal, not by worrying about everything that will be involved in getting from here to there.

Technique, methodology, the process you’ll need to follow... this will come to you. Just make sure your aim is good, open yourself to the unexpected, and proceed.

You don’t have to know how you’re going to get there, but you must know where you want to go.


Price Pritchett is one of the foremost experts on fast-growth strategies and breakthrough performance. His firm—PRITCHETT, LP—is recognized worldwide for its thought leadership on mergers, corporate culture, change management, and accelerated achievement. These writings define the behaviors and individual mindset underlying fast growth and innovation.


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