Confidence and Knowing What Matters

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Confidence and Knowing What Matters

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How do you know what really matters? Do you know for certain, or is it unclear? Do you have enough confidence?


For clarity, I’m not asking these questions so much about life’s needs, but more about personal or professional goals, creating success in your career, or perhaps about success in your business or the organization you work for.

People often suggest that things like family, friends, and our health matter most. It’s true, those things are very important and they certainly matter, but beyond those what is important?

Recently I wrote about knowing or understanding, “When Change Makes Sense.” One of the driving points in that writing was, knowing what matters.

A friend asked me, “How do we really know what matters?”

Perhaps what matters the most, at least in this context, is achieving your goal or getting to that desired end result.

I believe too many people lose sight of the goal and focus on a bunch of meaningless (meaningless in value to the big picture) activities, or ineffective and dead end pursuits because it is trendy or proclaimed and advertised as working for someone else.

In other cases people might change for just the sake of change. Sometimes that might be a bit motivational, a way to reduce monotony and lift spirits, but in other cases when someone signals change people become more afraid instead of motivated. They then often become uncertain of what matters and progress slows or stops altogether.

Certainly, much of this depends on the environment, the context, and the perceived need for change or accomplishment.

Misdirected Intentions

The first belief that people often develop when they aren’t achieving a goal is that they are doing something wrong. They often don’t consider that their path might be okay, and that it will just take a little more time. Instead they want to follow some propaganda about fast results and quick fixes.

They see the snake oil, and they buy it, they buy all of it.

Worse Yet

The bigger problem might be, once they start second guessing or they convince themselves that their approach isn’t working they begin to develop a lack of confidence necessary to pull them closer to the goal.

They still might be able to push, but they are no longer being pulled. People can push, and often push really hard, but it is the pull that really gets you through the most challenging times.

With a lack of confidence people often fail to make it through the ups and downs, the ups aren’t readily recognized and the downs become, “I told you so,” or “I knew it,” moments. None of this is reflective of a focus on what really matters. It is a focus on failure and the prescribed method for turning around a failure is often more change.

What Matters

Sometimes change isn’t what is needed at all. At least not large scale change, often it is more of a pivot, or slight redirection of effort to get around the roadblock, leap the hurdle, and get closer to what really matters.

Unfortunately, when your focus becomes about weaknesses and failures most people will look for someone else’s method to bail them out. A different and winning method, one with proven results and a quick fix, after all, you’re told this is what’s missing and what will always work.

Yes, this is sometimes valid, and yes it is sometimes representative of how we learn and grow, but too often it becomes an excuse to change everything and pick a completely new path. When the new path doesn’t work then there is still someone else to blame.

Instead of focusing on failed attempts, instead of blowing your confidence, instead of following someone else’s rule for change try sticking to your vision of the goal, and focus on what truly matters.

What matters? It’s not comparisons to someone else’s results. It is not the snake oil that was purchased or the quick fix. What sometimes matters the most is getting progressively closer to your end result.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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A Good Friend

January 16, 2017at 9:18 am

You’ve put great thought into this essay.

Question: How would we know the right goal, the goal that matters most?

How do we determine what matters most regarding our goal or end result we seek? …so we aren’t wasting time or become misdirected?

    Dennis Gilbert

    January 16, 2017at 6:46 pm

    I believe most of this relates to establishing appropriate tactics, metrics and measurements to monitor progress. You must use one or more tactics to work towards your goal. Things like revenue or number of customers are pretty easy to set up metrics, other things may require more creative thinking. You always (and frequently) have to measure result to goal. People accustomed to this way of thinking might call these KPI’s. (Key Performance Indicators) Sometimes people really struggle with goals, what they are, what they should be, what they mean, and how to achieve them. There lots of ways to do this, but I believe you have to be able to see what or where you want to be (vision), and then work backwards from that vision to establish the tactics used to get you there. I’m not sure, does that answer the question?

      A Good Friend

      January 16, 2017at 6:54 pm

      Yes. Thank You. I appreciate you time and consideration.

      I am amazed at how complicated setting goals can be.

      Thanks again.

        Dennis Gilbert

        January 16, 2017at 7:05 pm

        You’re welcome. You’re right it can feel complicated. 🙂

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