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Aiming for 50%

There was quite an interesting scene in the second-to-last episode of Mad Men this season. Interesting, that is, from a business perspective. Don Draper (creative director) and Roger Sterling (senior account executive) of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce,  the agency that is the core of the story, go to visit Dow Chemical. The executives at Dow are not really clear on why Draper and Sterling are there. They note that they’re perfectly happy with their agency. Then one of the executives notes proudly, “We have 50% market share right now!”

He says this in an effort to prove to Draper and Sterling that no change is needed. But Don Draper, played by the sultry Jon Hamm, comes back with a pretty powerful reply.

“You’re happy with 50%? Why on earth would you be happy with just 50%? If you work with me, I’d want to get you 100% market share, and I wouldn’t be happy until we got there.”

As fate would have it, shortly after watching that episode, I ran into a quote – “The greatest enemy of great is good.”

Are you finding that this is resonating with you?

What are you aiming for?

Setting goals can be a tricky thing in the business world. If your goals are too aggressive or unrealistic, you won’t achieve success and you’ll risk feeling discouraged or disgruntled. On the other hand, it’s easy to think that the opposite is true. If you set a lot of very easy goals and you succeed in achieving everything you plan on, you’ll feel great, right?

Well, Don Draper, in the Mad Men episode I mentioned above, talks about the fleeting contentment with “happy.” You’re happy until you realize you want to move up the next step, move on to the next thing, or overtake that one competitor of yours. Happiness, the show seems to indicate, is a sure sign that you are getting lazy. It seems to say that a happy company is a company that isn’t hungry anymore.

Fear or realism?

There is a fine line between being fearful and being realistic, and often that line exists in the eye of the beholder. Is your company shooting for goals that are comfortably within reach because you know it’s achievable, or are you restricting what your company can accomplish due to fear of failure? Is that fear coming from a smart place or just misplaced anxiety?

Believe it or not, planning for 2013 is not so far off. Maybe you’ve even started already. As you begin to think about where you’ll be a year from now, consider how you come to your goals. Are you stretching but not to the point of danger? Are you resting on laurels that really aren’t all that impressive?

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarahandmikeprobably/4380287096/ via Creative Commons

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