My wife recently shared with me a personal goal of hers, that I want to share with you.

 

First, a little backstory: Before a couple of years ago, I knew nothing about American Ninja Warrior except that it was some show on TV where a bunch of random people jumped on obstacles and, more often than not, fell off.

 

I had assumed it was akin to the short-lived Wipeout show – some type of reality program aimed at ridiculing contestants. It’s far from it.

 

It’s actually an awesome display of heartwarming stories and incredible athleticism that fills the void left by most major sports events that are steeped in egotism and million-dollar endorsement contracts.

 

Putting that aside, last year my wife turned to me and said she wanted to make an American Ninja Warrior audition tape. Actually, she said she wanted to be on the show. More specifically, she said that she had a goal of being on the show in the next few years.

 

I love her passion and have no doubt she’d make a great competitor for the show. But as she revealed her secret plan to me, I had some trepidation about her creating a goal such as that.

 

Here’s the thing: I totally agree that you shoot for the moons and convince yourself that anything is possible.

 

That being said, it’s not the best approach to create long-term goals for yourself that rely on elements beyond your control.

 

Case in point: There are thousands of people who submit audition tapes to American Ninja Warrior. There are then hundreds – if not thousands – of people who show up to the filming weeks before the show in hopes of being chosen at random as a walk on.

 

I’m not kidding. There are folks who wait in line, outside, for days, if not weeks, to get on the show.

 

No matter how good an audition tape my wife makes; no matter how prepared she is for the competition, her fate is not entirely in her hands. The producers have the final say on who gets on and who doesn’t.

 

Fortunately, since that first reveal a year ago, my wife has since adapted her vision. She recently confided in me that her reason for hew new goal (simply to make an audition tape) was because she wanted to set a goal she had 100% control over.

 

Bravo. That’s fantastic – a goal that’s entirely up to her to accomplish.

 

But here’s what’s most important. Whether she gets on the show or not, the end result is the same. She’ll have done everything she could – including getting into tip-top shape – to become a real-life Ninja. And she’ll be ninja-like with or without the show.

Do you really need to go to Harvard?

 

It’s like a high school student saying she wants to get into Harvard.

 

OK, that’s great, but at some point the decision is no longer up to you. Having the ability to even be considered by Harvard is a pretty impressive feat on its own. And if you have what it takes to get into Harvard, then you’ll probably have little problem getting into some tremendous program.

 

Is Harvard really what you’re after? Or are you after a top-notch education that’ll challenge you and open doors?

 

I’m guessing it’s the latter.

 

Whatever venture you find yourself in – personally, professionally – ask yourself if the goals you’ve set rely on the decisions of others. If they do, are they really fair goals to measure your success on? Or is there a way to adapt your goal without compromising your view of success?

 

The day my wife submits that audition tape she’ll know she did everything she could to get on the show. She hit the gym. She overcame fears to perform some death-defying obstacles courses. And she conquered the fear many of us have of putting ourselves out there for others to judge.

 

Will getting on the show prove to her she’s “made it”, or is it enough to have made the tape?

 

Society might say it’s the show – it’s all or nothing. But I say it’s time to rethink your idea of success and measure yourself against milestones you, alone, have control over.

 

In the case of my wife, her goal isn’t really to get on a show. It’s to become in physical and mental shape to be a ninja.

 

A TV show would just be a pretty cool cherry on top.

 

 

– RC

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