Reaching Goals The Easy Way

Reaching Goals The Easy Way

November 16, 2018

My plan was brilliant.

I had just taken over the tennis program at a small college, and I had big goals.

The men’s tennis program at my school had never won a conference championship. They had recently finished dead last. In fact, no team had won a conference championship in any men’s sport in over ten years.

But that history didn’t apply to me.

My team was going to win a conference championship this year, and that wasn’t all. Two of my students had just joined the team and I had also decided they were both going to qualify for the NCAA tournament even though only two players had ever qualified in the history of the entire conference (spanning several decades).

Granted, those were big goals, but, like I said, I had a plan.

And it was perfect.

No one had really heard of us, so I needed to play a bunch of ranked teams. By searching out the big names, we’d get victories against quality opponents and my students would pile up the wins they needed to get to NCAAs.

The key was playing as many ranked schools as possible.

So, during our Spring Break, I decided to schedule a barnstorming tour of ranked teams from Wisconsin and Minnesota. Because our break was so early, no ranked teams were in the typical warm weather spots like Hilton Head, SC when we were out of school. The only choices were in cold climates.

I figured out we could play four ranked teams in a week if we drove a fan through Wisconsin to various schools.

It was genius.

It was perfect.

It was cold.

As it turns out, college kids don’t want to spend their Spring Break in 22 degree weather.

It turns out college kids don’t want to drive twelve hours to play tough teams after studying hard for two weeks.

We played four highly-ranked teams that week in Wisconsin.

We lost all of them.

No big wins.


And later that spring, we didn’t even win the conference. Our confidence had been shaken so badly from the Spring Break Failure Tour that we never recovered.

The brilliant plan of pushing hard, reaching high, and demanding excellence created a culture of all-work-and-no-play losing.

So what did I do?

When our next Spring Break came around, we booked a comfortable place in Hilton Head.

We played easy schools in the beautiful sunshine and had fun all week.

We won all our matches and started a nice winning streak.

That little success led to more success and a feeling of optimism.

My two students dominated the biggest small-school tournament in the Midwest and qualified for a national event. (Both of them ended up making the NCAAs in separate years.)

We easily won the first conference championship in school history.

And it all stemmed from taking tiny little wins.

The tiny wins gave us the evidence we needed to believe our goals could be reached. Instead of arduous failure, we built a foundation on reachable successes.

It taught me a valuable lesson.

If you have big dreams, it helps to take comfortable naps along the way.

The easy way worked wonders.


My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.