Why your goals may best be achieved indirectly?

As a teacher of ‘Getting What You Want’ I am also a keen student of all the various ways we can do this. And there are lots of ways.

So, having the opportunity through the ABN (Australian Business Women’s’ Network), to listen to John Kay speak about his latest book Obliquity: Why your goals are best achieved indirectly, was fascinating.

In brief for you:

An oblique approach is best when our goals are complex, the situations’ complex, we don’t have complete knowledge or control or certainty, and it involves other people!  Sounds like a lot of the time.

A direct approach is best when we know the specific objective, the options, and how to measure the results.

Some strategies for our complex goals in our complex lives:

1. Have a high level objective. A memorable example John discusses in Obliquity, is the POW in North Vietnam who survived 7 years. He was confident he would survive (HLO), although he didn’t make specific plans. Many of the other POW who died told stories to themselves and others. ‘We’ll be out by Christmas’, We’re going to escape . . . and John suggests the continual disappointment when their plans didn’t materialise contributed to them not making it through.

2. It’s OK and often successful to ‘Muddle through’. The caveats on this are look for options, adapt, react quickly, engage in lots of experiments, notice and follow what is working, be willing to fail and drop and try something else if it’s not working.

3. “Good decision makers know their limits” and trust your judgement.

So today  . . .what will you do differently?

Maybe refocus on a high level objective? Be kind to yourself as you flexibly ‘muddle through’? And trust your judgement.

May you enjoy yourself on your journey to getting what you want.

Best wishes


Posted on January 14, 2013 .