During a retreat, a senior team debriefed their recent activities and then looked at their upcoming goals. One team member suggested that by overestimating the effort it took to achieve a goal, they had unconsciously backed off what was possible (even probable) and actually set the bar too low so that they could be sure of achieving their commitments. This led to productive dialogue about why this was happening and the impact not only on the team but on the company as a whole. It was demoralizing.
So what is the "right" level for setting the bar? We know to set stretch goals, but also to set goals that are achievable. How do we balance? With courage.
We need goals that require courage to commit to and courage to achieve. There must be negative consequences to missing a goal, but also positive consequences when we succeed. But positive consequences also come from the striving to succeed. From demonstrating the collective courage to reach the goal.
Courage not heroics.
Heroics lead to failure, heroics lead to organizations that reward heroes and often create the circumstances where re-active heroics are "required." Ask your teams for a bit of courage. Most will find it energizing and exciting to be part of something where pro-active effort matters.