Episode 313: Achieving Your Best


Episode Summary

Today’s episode is an invitation to live by a purpose, to have weekly, monthly, and or annual goals, and develop a system to keep us accountable for them. We go through a couple of personal stories to illustrate the power and the benefits of designing a purpose and committing to achieving it, the 5,000 shot goal, and the life-changing experience of turning a dream into a plan. 

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast, wherever you may be in the world today, and welcome to a new year. We are so honored and privileged to be able to be together with you today. Thank you for tuning in. I’d like to just share this experience that when I was a young man, like twenty-two and three, I met this beautiful gal by the name of Roxanne. And we were a young couple in love. We had a great courtship. We became engaged, and with time, we’re married. At our wedding reception, Roxanne’s sister, Sherry, sang the beautiful song from Fiddler on the Roof – Sunrise, Sunset. I decided to share some of the lyrics with you. You’ll probably remember those:  

Is this the little girl I carried? 

Is this the little boy at play? 

I don’t remember growing older 

When did they? 

When did she get to be a beauty? 

When did he grow to be so tall? 

Wasn’t it yesterday 

When they were small? 


Sunrise, sunset 

Sunrise, sunset 


Ah, I love that! I love the last line of it: “Laden with happiness and tears.” Now, almost 48 years later, Roxanne has passed along to her reward, and we look back with joy and satisfaction of so many blessings – we were blessed with a great ride. And fortunately, in life, you and I are given moments to reflect and retool to rethink and refocus on our efforts, on new heights, on new summits, and peaks to climb – new adventures. We find these peaks and opportunities in the personal aspects of our lives, and in our relationships, and at work in our professions, and giving to others, such as leaving the world a better place. One of the things that you nor I want to be guilty of is the description “I am an old dog and I can’t learn new tricks.” That’s pretty pathetic, isn’t it?  

I love the attitude of regardless of my age that I can learn and grow and feel like some of the best is still yet to come. And isn’t this a refreshing attitude that leads to greater joy, anticipation, fulfillment, and achievement? I enjoy the inspiration from this quote from the Maptia Manifesto: “I…” and then you put in your name, “… want to see the world. Follow a map to its edges and keep going. Forgo the plans and trust my instincts. Let curiosity be my guide. I want to change hemispheres. Sleep with unfamiliar stars and let the journey unfold before me.” So, of course, this is speaking figuratively, right? Because we don’t have to go really anywhere to follow that creed. But we can have it in our heart and it could be found in the accomplishments, the achievements that we have. So, what is possible? What are you really capable of doing in each of these key roles in life that we just talked about: personal and relationships with a spouse or partner and your family, professionally and in serving others?  

Well as we reflect on possibilities, which is creativity, innovation, and fresh thoughts – that leads us to reflect upon our vision, upon the annual goals that we set by each one of these roles. And then through weekly planning, we can sit back and just reflect and plan out our week so that we can implement those things that matter most. So, as we reflect on those types of things, it gives us the opportunity to think about what we are capable of doing.  

And to teach us a little bit in this, I would like to share the experience of one of our Vice Presidents at Becoming Your Best Global Leadership, Jamie Thorup. Jamie and I have had the opportunity to be associated for over 20 years. We met in Spain, and we’ve had the privilege to work professionally together for almost this last decade together. So, I’d like to tell you, Jamie, as he grew up, loved playing basketball. He is capable in so many areas, but this is one of his loves. He has a family that’s growing up. His oldest daughter right now is Alex. Alex is 14 years old. And they’ve had the opportunity to shoot hoops together in the backyard, and she has created an interest and a love for basketball. She enjoys playing basketball. She’s played recreationally on teams within the community. She has just entered high school; she is a ninth-grader. And so last year, just about a year ago, she decided that she had desires and hope to play basketball in high school on the sophomore team and JV team and then take it from there. And so as they talked about this, they sat back and using this creativity, innovation, and fresh thinking, talked about “Well, what can you do, Alex, that helps you be positioned to have a good experience?” And so, one of the things they came up with is that Alex could make 5,000 shots in practice in preparation for the season. Now, that seems like a really big goal, and it is. But when you break it down into a monthly goal, all of a sudden, it’s not that big of a goal: 450 shots a month, give or take some. Now that gets down to bite-sized pieces that you can do.  

Well, now here’s the interesting thing – and she took them from all over the basketball court – she didn’t quite reach her goal by the time basketball season started just a couple of months ago. But she did get and made 4,730 shots, and that is really pretty good. When you make 4,730 shots, you’re going to start getting some experience and start polishing your skills and abilities. And so now comes the season, and she is on the sophomore team and has been invited to play on the JV team. She has never made a three-pointer in her whole basketball career. But now, as this season has been launched, she’s just in game number nine, and she just made her 27th three-point shot in formal basketball play, and she is having the time of her life. I’ll tell you who else having is the time of their life: her dad. He’s having a fun time. And I asked him if he had any video clips of any of those three-point shots, and he said, “I do,” and he says, “I’ll just try to be attentive and take more.” And so he’s shown me a bunch of those shots and actually put 10 of those in a row on one brief little clip and it is so fun to watch. If I could just walk you through it, these are all different games, she’s wearing a black uniform, number 32; another game, a white uniform — and so they really alternate. But as the clip starts, she has the ball passed to her and bang! She drills it, three points. And then over and over and over again. So, it is so much fun to see that happen. And I might just mention, some of those three-pointers came at a time in the game when it really turned the tide and the momentum in favor of Alex’s team.  

So, this is my question to you as we think about achieving your best: what is your 5,000-shot goal? And in order to find this or these kinds of goals, you will find yourself being most successful where you can be in a place to find your creativity, to listen to your heart, and to get excited about the possibilities of what is possible. It might be learning how to play the piano or improving on how you play. It might be learning a new sport like pickleball. It might be how do I become more organized and a great manager? 

Now, I’ll just give you an example of a few 5,000-shot goals on this. I’ll just start back 40 years ago, I took piano lessons for about a year and a half, and I got to where I could play with both hands but quit playing as I got married, our family grew, and I got into my profession. And so beginning last year – let’s use that point in time – I could play, say, hymns with my left hand, and I could play hymns with my right hand, but I could play no hymns with both hands. And so my goal was, by the end of the year, to be able to play 10 hymns with both hands.  

And so that’s the idea. Just like Alex had the idea to take her shots, this was the idea for me of how I can improve in this area. And so, I set the annual goal, and it was in harmony with my vision for life; something I’ve wanted to do. And then I put down on my pre-week planning throughout the months; I would take two or three hours a month and practice. And then I set up somebody that I could give a recital to, and that I could play these hymns for and the pressure was on. But I am happy to say that today, after 40 years, I can play 10 hymns with both hands at the same time. And now as I’m setting the goal for this coming year, I’m upping it to 20. And in the coming years, I hope then that that will lead to being much more comfortable in playing many more things. So, that’s an example.  

How about pickleball? I’ve been playing pickleball recently, it’s a new hobby. I have enjoyed it and playing for about six months. It is so much fun. And so this year, I’ve decided to take 2,000 practice shots of dinking, that’s kind of close up to the net, serving, 2,000 volley shots, 2,000 deep court shots, and 2,000 lobs. So, when you think about it, it’s not so much because it’s only around 200 — a little less than 200 — a month. That gets down to 50 a week. So, this is doable.  

These are examples of what you can do but the question is, what is yours? Here are some others that you might consider: exercise and diet; or maybe something that you put down as an extended goal, climb Kilimanjaro; or get a significant new account in work; or take a class; or sell 2,000 units if you’re in that kind of business, in that segment of being a sales rep or a person, outreach specialist; another, be among the top salespeople or technicians; or travel someplace that’s exciting to you.  

I was sitting next to a friend at a banquet not too long ago. It was 93 year old, Ray Beckum, an amazing man. He had a spring in his step and a mind that was as sharp as a tack. He was the chair for the retirement committee of a major university in the United States, and also chaired a committee that helped raise funds for the health and well-being of our community. And I asked him, “What’s the secret to your longevity? And what do you feel is the secret to longevity, generally?” His response was: “Having an inspiring and motivating purpose, a vision and goals for your life.” He shared that he could not count all of the people he knew who had died within six to 18 months after their retirement. And he felt one of the primary reasons was that they no longer had a purpose.  

So, that is our invitation to you today, my friends, is to have a purpose, have an exciting, life-inspiring, personal written vision, and have annual goals that lift and build your life, and that build the lives of others. A 5,000-shot goal can bless so many people in the process. And if a 14-year-old can do it, you can do it, and we can do it throughout our entire lives. So, what is your 5,000-shot goal this year?  

It has been said, “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.” Hell, I’m encouraged by the linking of those two different dimensions of realizing your 5,000 shots, a dream that turns into a plan. Steve Jobs once said, “If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” I love it. And that’s what happens as we keep at it, we keep tapping into our creative juices. The mythical figure, Peter Pan, said, “To live will be an awfully big adventure.” Well, that’s what this is, my friends; it’s an awfully big adventure. And we are honored to have you as part of the Becoming Your Best podcast. The very fact that you choose to listen says so much about you, your desires to learn, grow, and improve. And also, I can say with confidence, I know that you’re blessing many people in the process. So, thank you for joining us today. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership; we wish you the best this day, and always. 


Steve Shallenberger

Founder, Becoming Your Best
CEO, executive, corporate trainer, and community leader.
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