The ability to set and achieve goals is an exact way to quantify success and failure against expectations.
Business leaders face these challenges around goal-setting on a larger scale, with many more chances for goals to fail if they are poorly planned.
Since meetings are where company goals are covered, these discussions become important tools for setting clear objectives for your employees, and they are the best setting to create a universally goal-oriented culture within your organization.
To help us explain the focus and discipline needed for effective goal-setting in the Meeting Leadership Podcast #043, we brought in special guest Martin Parnell. He is an international keynote speaker, author, and world-record holder.
He lends us his expertise on setting and achieving goals consistently, and introduces the Beyond SMART Goals system that many successful leaders use every day.
Through his “Quests for Kids” initiative, Martin Parnell has completed 10 quests, which include running 250 marathons in one year and setting five Guinness World Records in endurance events, as well as summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in 21 hours. By the end of 2014, he had raised over $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play, giving over 27,000 children a better chance at life.
Martin’s book ‘Marathon Quest’ was published by Rocky Mountain Books, and CBC Radio listed him as one of Alberta’s top five authors in 2014. His second book, ‘Running to the Edge’ was released in November 2016. The final book of The Marathon Trilogy, titled ‘The Secret Marathon-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport’ was released in October of 2018.
Through keynotes and workshops, Martin shares his message: Finish the Race Attitude – setting goals and overcoming obstacles to unlock your potential. He is married to Sue, and has three children and three grandchildren.
You Can get in touch with Martin Parnell at http://www.martinparnell.com/home/.
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00:00 – Show opening
Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.
00:27 – Podcast starts here
Gordon Sheppard Speaking
Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast, where we help professionals just like you get the inspiration and the practical tips that they need to build your leadership skills and learn how to run outstanding meetings. And if you are a leader who really understands the importance of goal-setting, then you’re going to get a ton out of today’s episode, because today we’re going to talk about why goal-setting is critical for all leaders.
And to help us do this, we are lucky enough today to have guest expert, Martin Parnell. Now, Martin has done so many remarkable things throughout his life, including running 250 marathons in one year to raise a quarter million dollars to support kids. He holds Guinness Records. He’s been through kind of near-death moments and come back from them to support people all around the world. I mean, it just doesn’t get luckier than having an expert like this to talk about how he sets goals and how you can learn from his experience. And I’m not going to make you wait any longer. Here’s the interview with Martin Parnell.
01:30 – Welcome, Martin Parnell!
Gordon Sheppard: Martin, welcome to the show. It is just great to have an inspirational leader like you here with us here today. Now I could talk on and on about the great experience I’ve already had meeting you through Rotary. But there’s a lot of people that don’t know you, so take a moment to introduce yourself for everyone who doesn’t know you.
Martin Parnell: You bet. Thanks, Gordon. Great to be here today. I’m originally from England. I emigrated at the age of 21, engineer, and worked 25 years all across Canada at different locations. Really the last 10 years I’ve been doing some very interesting challenges, be it in the running area or in the writing of the book. So I am a professional speaker and author. So a little bit of a background on myself.
Gordon Sheppard: Well, and just for fun, can you just let out some of the highlights of some of these significant things that you’ve done throughout this inspirational time?
Martin Parnell: Well, just in a quick thumbnail, I ran 250 marathons in one year, raising over $250,000 for the charity Right To Play. I’ve set five Guinness World Records in endurance sports, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 21 hours, and ran the coast of the UK, a thousand kilometers, in a marathon a day. So some kind of crazy stuff.
02:33 – Why goal-setting is critical for all leaders
Gordon Sheppard: Thank you so much for sharing those things. I actually wasn’t aware of the Guinness Records, but of course that makes a lot of sense. When I tell people I’m going to be interviewing this fellow who ran 250 marathons in a year, they are immediately attracted to this, because they immediately understand how much it takes to do those sort of things. And that leads me into the topic that we’re going to talk about today and learn from you, which is why goal-setting is critical for all leaders. And I know this is a topic that’s dear to your heart. What’s one of the first things you want to let people know in this area?
Martin Parnell: Well, I think right off the bat, when you set a goal, right away you bring focus to an issue or a objective. And I think the focus side of it is so critical. We have a lot of distractions in our world from whatever, social media, different things. But boy, when you set a goal, right, you’ve said, “I’m going to focus on something.” And I think that’s critical.
03:24 – Avoiding the pitfalls of goal-setting
Gordon Sheppard: I mean, I’ve experienced this sort of off and on in my own life. I can say, you know, I know what it’s like when I’ve set a goal and achieved it. So often people though, they’ll pay lip service to it. What are your suggestions about sort of the why it’s so important to not just do that, why it’s important to actually get this done?
Martin Parnell: Well, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. To me in many ways, it’s not the what. The what is something that you see in your mind’s eye. Maybe you can envision it. It’s the why that drives you towards the completion of the goal. And that’s why I spend a lot of time talking to leaders and to different people about “Why do you want this?” And we dig deeper and deeper. Sometimes the initial why is quite superficial. And the trouble is that will not sustain you in the tough times. So digging into really “Why do you want it?” And quite frankly, it can end up where the why is not strong enough. It just may not be a goal that you should go after.
04:17 – Pushing through the obstacles
Gordon Sheppard: Well, and when I think about reflecting back on your 250 marathons in a year, there’s some dark moments there. What was it about your why, after, I don’t know, marathon 112, that made you do the 113th?
Martin Parnell: Yeah, it’s a very good point. You know, what drove me … And there were many days where I woke up at five in the morning, the rain is hammering against the window pane, and I much rather would have stayed in bed. You know, I’d already run four marathons, ready for the fifth. But what got me out of bed was the commitment I had made to 5,000 children, to help them, give them the gift of hope. These are children all over the world that are under deprived … Don’t have the basics. And through Right To Play, I commit that $250,000. And Gord, that’s what drove me me out of bed and kept me going.
05:04 – Turn words into actions
Gordon Sheppard: And when other leaders that you now work with through your professional work hear this type of story, what are their takeaways that they’re able to put into action?
Martin Parnell: Well, I think one takeaway is commitment. I think as a leader, we must show the commitment to what we’re trying to do. I think we’ve got to lead from the front. I mean, I really think we have to put into action our words. And that’s one thing I do share with the individuals I work with, is if you’re just saying you’re going to do something, be it a personal or in business, you have to be right there and showing it. And there’s no other way around it. You have to be totally, 100% committed to it.
05:40 – The ‘Beyond SMART Goals’ system
Gordon Sheppard: And when I hear what you’re saying there, it really makes me in my own journey. I’m 52 years old now. And only recently has it dawned on me of really what it takes to do the work. So I know what it’s like to do the work in certain moments, but it’s not often sort of a system. But we’re talking about goal-setting here. So is there a way to kind of systematize what you’re talking about?
Martin Parnell: I use what I call “beyond SMART goals” as a process. And it really is a process of the why, and then we get into the different aspects of planning, of what’s the stretch of support? There is a system that will allow us to achieve a goal, no matter what area it’s in. I think that’s critical.
Gordon Sheppard: And how can people learn that system from you?
Martin Parnell: Well, I do workshops. I have a one-day workshop on goal-setting and overcoming obstacles to achieve your full potential. And I think there’s a couple of things here. The whole idea of potential: what we think we can do versus what we can do. And there’s no question we can do far more than we think we can do. And I think that’s what this process allows us to uncover.
Gordon Sheppard: But there’s so many shows to watch on Netflix.
Martin Parnell: Yeah, I know it’s a challenge. I think that’s where discipline, where focus comes in. Once you have a goal and you focus and you have the discipline and you have the approach, you can actually start shutting out all these other distractions. And trust me, Netflix will always be there, so …
07:08 – Get in touch with Martin Parnell – www.martinparnell.com
Gordon Sheppard: Do you mean my binge-watching is still an option going forward, even if I’m trying to learn how to run a marathon? Martin, I hear that you’re a terrific trainer and there’s an opportunity perhaps for people to get in touch with you. What’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Martin Parnell: I ask people to go to my website, www.martinparnell.com. Contact me from there. You can have a look at some of the areas that I’ve worked in. I gave a TED talk called Life Is A Relay, which I think people will find very interesting. But please do contact me through my website. That’s the best way.
Gordon Sheppard: It’s been great to have you on the show. I really, really appreciate your time.
Martin Parnell: Gord, thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Take care now.
07:44 – How Leaders Can Go Beyond SMART Goals – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/56
Gordon Sheppard: I have to say that one of my biggest takeaways from doing this great interview was that you can’t get anything done as a leader if you don’t set a goal. And there are people just like Martin who are out there, leading by example and giving us the tools that we need to go out there and take action. So I hope from this episode, that is exactly what you’re going to do as well. And if you’re like me and you want to hear more from Martin Parnell, then check out episode 56 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called How Leaders Can Go Beyond SMART Goals, and you can get that by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/56.
08:22 – Inspiring Leadership Stories with Martin Parnell – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/76
And if you would also like to hear a firsthand account of a story that actually inspired Martin during a really tough time in his life, then check out episode 76 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called Inspiring Leadership Stories with Martin Parnell, and you’ll find that episode by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/76.
08: 44 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy
And I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now, if you’re also looking for more great inspiration and practical tips that you can use to build your leadership skills, help your team and make sure that you have outstanding meetings, then visit meetingleadershipinc.com/academy. And as always, thank you so much for listening, and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
09:12 – Podcast Outro
Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to write that review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.
Links From This Episode
- MLP 056: How Leaders Can Go Beyond SMART Goals with Martin Parnell https://meetingleadershipinc.com/56
- MLP 076: Inspiring Leadership Stories with Martin Parnell https://meetingleadershipinc.com/76
- Get in touch with Martin Parnell – http://www.martinparnell.com/home/
- Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy
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