What are success orientations?
Goal oriented people can see the outcomes they are trying to achieve
clearly and vividly in their minds. Sometimes the goal is so vivid in
their minds that they think they can even feel, taste, hear, and sense
the emotions of their success when they achieve their goal - before they
achieve it. The people and processes around a goal oriented person are
just resources for achieving the goal. The process of getting there and
the people who help along the way are useful, but ultimately not important
if they are not necessary to achieving the goal.
Some general factors that describe goal oriented people:
- When faced with a challenge, the goal oriented person assesses the
attractiveness of the goal and seeks the easiest and most direct path
to that goal. An extremely goal oriented person can have chameleon-like
behavior patterns, taking on and dropping process and/or relationship
orientations at will in order to further their ambitions.
- Goal oriented people feel most comfortable when there is a goal to
accomplish and they can work independently and competitively to achieve
this goal with the outcome visualized as themselves as the winner. Highly
organized structures frustrate the goal oriented person. Long winded
conversations and emotional bonding with no deliverable outcome drives
the goal oriented person crazy.
- Weekends for this person are best organized around a number of challenges
to achieve: Get the gardening done, read 5 chapters of a text book,
finish a project, run 10km on Sunday, etc. Preferably in a competitive
arena or with small team of equally capable or better partners. Goal
oriented people prefer “partners” to “team mates”
as they are “partnering” in order to accomplish something,
rather than just having social team mates.
- Meetings are best run with specific goals to be accomplished at every
meeting. A short, to the point, efficient meeting is best. A sense that
everything is decided, finished, and achieved leaves the goal oriented
person happy. Social chit-chat and careful adherence to protocols irritates
this person. A meeting where relationships were enhanced and/or process
followed but few solid outcomes achieved leaves the goal oriented person
bitter and angry: “That meeting was a waste of time!”
- Recreational activities are exciting to the goal oriented person
because there are myriad opportunities for individual goal setting and
achievement in a variety of challenging, difficult modes. Mountain bike
racing, kayaking around an island in a day, cycling 50km, or hiking
to the top of a mountain are all wonderful activities for this person.
Anything that is highly structured or with a primarily social focus
is avoided by this person.
- Goal oriented people will only support rankings, titles and hierarchies
if they are the ones who can achieve the top position. Otherwise they
despise such irritations. They are generally low-power distance individuals,
caring only with meeting and learning from other goal oriented people.
Having lunch is a competitive or accomplishment-oriented affair. Going
out for a lunch with an interesting goal oriented person or someone
who can help their career is a lunch worth having. Group lunches and
free-flowing social environments are good as they provide an opportunity
to find new people who can help them achieve their goal or help them
learn how to do so themselves.
- Bluntness, directness, and intensity are hallmarks of a goal oriented
person’s communication style. They don’t care for verbal
protocol and most often only seek clarity in communication when the
definition of the goal is in question.
- Goal oriented people are often loners. They are attracted to others
of their kinds for partnerships and to learn from but can be equally
comfortable alone as with others. Relationship are goals in themselves.
To meet someone for an intimate relationship is to do so for sexual
gratification, marriage and/or children. It is not for the sole sake
of friendship. Power over others is often wielded flippantly and joyfully
by this person often without respect for protocol or the emotional impact
- Goal oriented people can be the most self aware of their own success
orientation as they often see the paths to goals more clearly than others.
They are also made most aware of their style by the people of the other
two styles who dislike or envy the freedom the goal oriented person
espouses. Goal oriented individuals can see relationship oriented people
as “lazy talkers” and process oriented people as “bureaucrats
who never achieve anything and hide behind rules and regulations to
cover their own incompetence”.
- Homework or studying is done alone and with goals in mind rather
than just for the sake of learning. The highest grade, top of the class
honor, a scholarship, and/or entrance to the best program at the best
university are examples of goals this person sets their mind to achieving.
They are the most likely of the orientations to latch onto a charismatic
teacher or leader and emulate this person.
- Individual assessments where goals are accomplished are the best type
of assessment for the goal oriented person. They resonate with any learning
or assessment process that is practical and has a deliverable. Solving
a case study problem is a wonderful challenge for a goal oriented person.
So are constructive projects with clear, visible results.
Things you will hear a highly goal oriented person say:
- What’s the fastest way there?!”
- “I plan to be able to run 10km in 11 minutes by July 1st. And
then place in the top 10 runners in the marathon in August.”
- “Skiing? Sure! I want to beat the double black diamond run
this year. I never could do it. Do you want to race the long blue run
with me? Let’s see who is faster!”
- “I can’t go for lunch with you today. I am meeting with
Jim for lunch. We are going over our plan for meeting our sales target.”
- “There is Susan. Let’s sit with her. I have to talk to
her about getting me a new computer for my office.”
- “I will have the project done by noon tomorrow.”
- “Professor, my partner and I will finish the project by Friday.
It will be an A+ project, you wait and see!”
- “I will read the case and do the exam in 3 hours tomorrow.
I don’t need it ahead of time. I am busy tonight finishing another
- “Professor, can you tell me right now what comprises an A+
grade on the project?”
- A goal oriented primary school teacher: “That child gets all
her work done so quickly and so well! What a good child!”
Spaces a goal oriented person will like to be in:
- Restaurants that have great food - the goal being to have a great
tasting meal. Also, restaurants that are linked to success and achievement:
“If we win tonight, we are going to XYZ restaurant to celebrate!”
Celebrations that mark successful outcomes are joyous occasions for
goal oriented people.
- Bars that are linked with goals, such as going for a drink after the
conclusion of a successful sales deal. Or to celebrate a victory. Or
to pick up a date for the night.
- Coffee shops for buying coffee. Not for sitting and chatting.
- Fitness clubs with success ladders, peers to compare to and gain
tips from, tougher role models to aspire after, and a competitive atmosphere.
The goal oriented person is not generally there to meet new people or
follow a process, but to accomplish something.
- Open spaces where they can physically see goals in the distance (mountain
tops to climb, lakes to cross) and where they can be physically independent
to challenge themselves (open running trails, open water).
- Shopping malls that are easy to get in, get things done and get out
of. Shopping for the sake of shopping is a waste of time. Better to
order things online and avoid the hassle and waste of time of a shopping
- Classroom experiences with:
- A clear focus on accomplishment of constructive projects or solving
of specific, real problems.
- Activities that have little structure but are focused on achievement
of an outcome.
- Non-social, loosely structured activities that are for individuals
or partners to work on.
- Accomplishment of the learning required as soon as possible. Once
done, moving on to new challenges.
- Achievement of the clearly stated goal as 100% of assessment value.
No “wishy-washy” grades for process or how nicely you did
the work. “The end justifies the means” for the extremely
goal oriented person, so process (rules, regulations) that were used
(or ignored) and people who were used on the way to the goal are not
- Recognition for superior performance and achievement. Release from
structure and awarding of credentials as soon as goals are reached.
Careers that attract goal oriented people
Leadership in general is attractive to a goal oriented person. This
is in contrast to “management” which might be a word best
used by a relationship oriented person or “administration”
by a process oriented person. Leadership implies that there are goals
that someone has achieved and that are worth achieving - someone to look
up to and strive to be equal to or better than. Someone who stands out
of the crowd as an individual example of excellence and strength. Some
typical careers goal oriented people prefer:
- Olympic athletics and athletics in general.
- Leadership in business.
- Leadership the arts - music, dancing, acting, etc.
- Sales of big ticket items that require one individual to take a lead
and make the deal happen.
- Lawyer - a grandstanding litigator as opposed to a person who “dots
their i’s and crosses their t’s”.
- Engineering - building big and cool things.
- Architecture - designing big and cool buildings.
- Science - mysteries to unravel and scientific goals to achieve.
- Medicine - particularly doctors and researchers.
- Pharmaceuticals - particularly research and leadership.
- Military - specialist roles like general or special forces.
Learn more about the process orientation by exploring your own ways of
doing things. There is no one right way of doing things in life - but
there seems to be some fairly common groupings of ways people go about
Check out this really excellent book on personal and
professional effectiveness by a true Goal Oriented archetype, author Timothy
In "The 4-Hour Workweek" he gives us such
beautiful statements as:
"...expect that some time wasters [read: relationship oriented people]
will be offended the first few times their advances are rejected."
"I am not here to make friends. I have been hired to build a sales
team and sell product, and that's what I intend to do. Thanks." (re-quoted
in the book as an example of a focused goal oriented VP)
A highly recommended read! Not only can you cut your
wasted work time down by tons of hours, but you can read how to be more
goal oriented at the same time, achieving more of what you want to do...
"YUCK! I thought I was goal oriented but
I disagree with this description because I am not like some of the attributes
(though I match many of them, I agree)"
There are very few people who are dramatically and extremely goal oriented
- some salespeople, athletes, and politicians, surely, but other than
them, very few.
The profile of a goal oriented person noted here can seem very harsh
and unattractive and most people would look at this and say "Yuck!
I am not like that and I don't want to be like that!"
Fear not! Most people who have a strong goal orientation are more "balanced"
than the extremes noted here as an archetype.
"Having a secondary Relationship Orientation
softens my Goal Orientation."
- A goal oriented person with a secondary relationship orientation.