Why Top Achievers are Great at Keeping Secrets

by Brad Isaac on March 19, 2006


There is a risk to disclosing your goals to other people.  What can often happen is the well-meaning people you tell your goal to respond less than enthusiastically.  In fact, they may give a small sermon about how "impossible" it is or tell you that you aren’t capable of doing it.   This type of criticism or fallacious feedback can be devestating to a new goal.  It can take the wind out of your sails.  Even though you might not believe the feedback and work on your goal anyway, the negativity still makes your job more difficult knowing others are negative about it.  So it’s really not worth taking the risk. 

Instead it’s best to keep your early goals a secret while they are new and early action stages.  You can keep a secret can’t you?  It’s far better to work in quiet and alone than to have a friend or relative spoil your attitude while you pursue your goals. 

So why do people do this?  Why would a mother, father, brother, best friend hurt my chances of success by picking apart my goal?  Personally, I think we are all brought up to do it.  We are taught to fear change.  It’s almost natural to apply our past experience to someone else’s future goal.  Seeing someone do something others have failed at or something never done before is a bit scary.  So your friends and relatives think they have your best interests in mind when they express their doubts.

If you are a frequent reader of my blog you might say  "But Brad, you shared your goal about 2 weeks ago publicly with everyone!  Aren’t you breaking this rule?" 

No, not at all.  The difference is my goal isn’t new or in the planning stages.  I’ve been working on it for months and I’m almost done.  In my case, I wanted to use the leverage of a public disclosure to pressure me to do better and to take more consistent action.  I knew you’d be disappointed if I didn’t start making some real progress.  This was enough to get me back on the horse…running full speed ahead. 

But to get back to revealing a goal too soon, I’ll give weight loss as another example.  Someone is 100 lbs overweight and she wants to lose it in 1 year or less.  Revealing her goal too early could result in negative criticisms and comments.  You can almost hear some supporting her by saying "Really?  Cool…you could probably lose all 100lbs in 2 years if you try real hard!" or "Well, I’ve been telling you you need to lose weight.  I’m glad you are finally listening."

To avoid the possibility of this type of feedback she should not disclose this goal with anyone except her doctor, nutritionist, support group or coach.  It would be my advice not to even discuss it with her husband unless he knows what he’s doing.  This type of secret isn’t bad to keep…it’s bad if you don’t keep it!  She can take action and make some progress before talking about it.  People will eventually notice!  Then some talk might be appropriate. 

You see, people will "buy into" a goal where you have made a lot of progress when they find out about it.  Because they can see the difference.  They can see it working.

With that said, if someone chooses to trust you and share a goal, idea or plan with you, give them some support.  I am not aware of any mystics or
fortune tellers in my reading audience.  So this should be easy to do.  Since we don’t know the
future, it’s actually safer to trust the person who has the vision for their
future than to issue a warning or doubt.    When they share a goal or dream with us, we
have the duty to be unlike the average nonbeliever and give them a sincere.."That
sounds great!  You can do it." 

Technorati Tags: goals and goal setting, lifehacks, secrets

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gmlk March 20, 2006 at 5:23 am

Talking prematurely about goals often results in the talk becoming a surrogate for doing, making the goals nothing more then vapor.

Lead by example. Don’t tell: Show. Give a demonstration and wait. Only explain when asked the right questions.

This will filter your audience: Only the people who are really interested and ready to accept your new reality will ask you great questions. This way you will not waste you time on people who don’t care or aren’t ready to accept your new reality.

Moonbat_One March 21, 2006 at 1:14 am

Really good advice. My father often denigrated and undermined me when I told him about my dreams and ambitions. He had a very low opinion of me and a pessimistic worldview in general. It’s too bad I had no choice but to depend on his help for my dream of going to college.

B. Riley March 21, 2006 at 8:42 am

Reminds me of a Bob Dylan quote. . . When asked what destiny meant to him, he replied:

“It’s a feeling you have that you know something about yourself – nobody else does – the picture you have in your mind of what you’re about will come true. It’s kind of a thing you kind of have to keep to your own self, because it’s a fragile feeling. And if you put it out there, somebody will kill it. So, it’s best to keep that all inside.”

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