As I work to expand LexION Capital and bring our mission of financial empowerment and a better Wall Street to more and more people, I know that one of the most important things I can do both professionally and personally is to set the right goals for growth. As an entrepreneur, I am constantly searching out inspiration from other leaders.
Jane Addams, who was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize and who is seen as the founder of the modern social work profession, is one such leader whose example continues to inspire me. Addams overcame challenging odds: she lost her mother as a toddler and lost her father as a young adult, and suffered from lifelong health problems. Yet she continuously set lofty goals for herself. Some of these were impossible goals, such as “make all children happy,” or “prevent world war.” When you set lofty goals and continuously aim high, you are poised to achieve so much more–even if, like Addams, you never make it all the way to those impossible goals. By nature of the scope of her vision, Addams accomplished tremendous things along the way. We so often celebrate leaders for their successes, yet there is so much to be learned from their failures, too. In fact, one of her first goals was to be a doctor. She never finished medical school. Yet she founded an entire discipline, social work, starting with the opening of Hull House in Chicago. She kept the mission-driven nature, vision of caring for people, and big dreams that had drawn her to medicine in the first place, and carried these ideals into her life’s work. She re-directed her dream and nonetheless succeeded in taking care of populations who were ignored by most of society.
Some might look at a lofty goal and think, “Why bother? There’s no way I can fix this in my lifetime.” Addams knew how to set “impossible” goals without being discouraged by their scope. The challenge of her lofty vision didn’t stop her, discourage her, or slow her down. In fact, quite the contrary: she pushed and challenged herself, and ultimately she was very influential and achieved a great deal. A truly optimistic and mission-driven leader, she knew that true purpose of her life’s work was to “move the needle.” Imagine a car’s speedometer: we can’t just tap the gas and go from zero to sixty in an instant, but by continually pushing we can always keep moving the needle. Every push helps us get up to speed. Addams set out to do so many things that she didn’t get to see it all come to fruition, but her life’s work paved the way for decades of progress and along the way she accomplished so much.
To truly move forward, set impossible goals. It’s the only way to possibly achieve them. And no matter what fraction of it you achieve along the way, you know that by aiming high to begin with you will accomplish so much.