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Lessons from the Navy Seals on Getting Teams to Hit Goals

Hitting Goals as a Team like the Navy Seals

Plenty of us already struggle with hitting our own goals. Getting a team to hit their goals … that’s a whole other challenge. There are plenty of strategies and ideas to steal from, but why not learn from one of the most elite team organizations in the country: the Navy Seals.

The selection process, alone, weeds out 94% of applicants. They’re considered to be one of the deadliest forces across the planet. And they’re famously known for the raid on Osama Bin Laden and the rescue of Captain Phillips from Somali Pirates.

So, how does a team of Navy Seals execute near-perfect missions? They reinforce mental toughness with goal setting practices.

Getting a real estate team to hit their goals is 80% mental. Literally. It’s estimated we say 300 to 1000 words to ourselves per minute. Navy Seals will tell you those words need to be positive. Otherwise, the team will be sabotaging themselves. Let’s go over a few methods they use to build that positivity (and confidence).


How to Set Goals that Get the Team Moving

  1. Set goals in extremely small chunks. You’re not trying jump across the entire stairway at one time. Take it in small steps.
  2. Establish norms for how the group will operate and work toward the goals.
  3. Make sure everyone has an equal say among the group during your goal progress.
  4. Clarity is key – both among the goals and how the team works together (i.e. role responsibilities). Don’t be afraid to discuss logistics.

A lot of us have heard about “big hairy audacious goals,” otherwise known as BHAGs. The premise is to set something ambitious, almost like a vision goal of where you want to be by the end of the year (or any time period).

The challenge with audacious goals is that they’re very high-level. They don’t get into the weeds on how you will reach those goals. And when they’re so big, it can seem like you’ve made little progress and just give up on them.

It’s easier to break them into smaller chunks. Plus, there’s an added benefit. When you achieve those smaller benchmark goals, you feel more motivated. You feel the progress and it keeps you going. Navy Seals sometimes have goals just to make it to lunch. Little achievements can turn around a team’s mood very easily.

Is There a Team Structure that Works Best?

There are several team models that work well and typically see better productivity results. They vary from having central leadership to being a collection of equal-minded people. The key was the culture. Was everyone comfortable and motivated to participate as a team? Google did a whole study detailing how their successful teams operated.


Practice Visualization. Do Mental Rehearsal.

Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) is famously known for his time playing basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers. What’s not so known were his struggles to make free point shots. He often missed them … until his coach gave him a new strategy: Visualization. They based it off a Buddhist meditation practice.

If you visualize making the shot, you would be more likely to actually make it. Shaq tried it out and saw his score percentage go up. The Navy Seals use the same practice. They visualize themselves succeeding and going “through the motions.” It’s like practicing, but done mentally.

Having your team visualize and discuss what obstacles you might come across, can ready everyone for the journey (and how to deal with it). Talk through what benchmarks you want to hit. Imagine what tasks you’ll be doing and imagine any pitfalls you need to prepare for.


Roleplay and Do Simulations

After visualizing some of the obstacles you might face, you should have the team practice overcoming them – in real life. The Navy Seals work under the rule: “Train like you fight.” To prepare for the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound, they built a life-size replica and practiced the mission.

For you, it might be having the team practice objection handling or how to make cold calls. Practice how to conquer any problem you might face.


Extra Resources

If you want to read more about hitting goals and how to improve sales, I’d recommend reading Dan Pink’s books: Drive and To Sell is Human. They feature studies and stories demonstrating how to take a sales operation to the next level (both from an individual perspective and team perspective).


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