but something was done

Well my goal for today was not accomplished but, well, something was done. –coworker

That comment and the thought behind it irritates me. The idea I heard expressed was, “I didn’t accomplish my most important priorities, but all is still okay because at least I did something.”

Of the many ideas I’ve been trying to make a part of my life in the recent year, the most applicable idea here has to do with the achievement of goals in a negotiation situation (but is applicable, of course, everywhere). In Stuart Diamond’s excellent–and to me, game-changing–book Getting More, he urges negotiators to ask themselves in all situations: “What is my goal?” and to monitor if their actions are in line with achieving their professed goal. For instance, if your goal is to complete X task, but then you go around doing tasks Y and Z, which have no relation to task X, then Diamond would perhaps say that you’re taking actions contrary to your goals. Why would you want to do that?

I heard my coworker’s comment, spoken out loud but mostly to himself, and gritted my teeth. No, it’s not okay that “something was done” if that “something” has nothing to do with your highest priorities–not if you’re trying to really accomplish your goals. Not if you’re aiming for remarkable.