The Reach

Some baby animals are born and can stand and walk within a short amount of time. For example, an elephant can stand 20 minutes after being born and learns to walk within its first hour. In two days, it can keep up with the herd. A giraffe can walk in about 30 minutes. For a human baby, the time varies but typically ranges between 9 and 18 months. Several factors need to fall into place before a baby becomes mobile. Two of those factors can teach us adults important principles in goal setting. They are vision and reach.

A baby has to learn everything when born. Everything about living. And really, they do a pretty good job at picking up what they need to do. They study their surroundings. They observe. Their bodies begin to adapt to life as they develop muscles, motor skills, and balance. All these things come together in stages, at appropriate times. One stage usually can’t come about until the previous stage is in place. At least, for the most part.

But here is a baby, looking around, their eyesight adapting to seeing distances and such and what does the baby notice? Things. So many, many things. Toys. People. Animals. More things. More people. Let’s just say, way more stuff than what was available in the womb.

Now, not all this stuff is going to be within reach. In fact, it’s better if some of it is out of reach. When a toy is left just out of reach and the baby has now learned how to focus on it, that baby is going to figure out how to get mobile enough to get that object.

Here’s the simple lesson we can learn from babies.

First, in order to set a goal you have to have a goal in mind. Seems a bit too simplistic to mention, doesn’t it? But it’s true. If you don’t have a vision of what you want to accomplish you aren’t going to accomplish it. Just like a baby who can’t see or focus on the object yet is not going to be motivated to reach for it. We need to see the task in our mind or else we are not going to set the goal. We need vision to strive.

Second, for a goal to be a goal and not an accomplishment already, it needs to be just slightly out of reach. We learn a bit about ourselves and our abilities when we have to figure out how to reach the goal. We may learn something about ourselves we didn’t know before. When a baby sees an object just out of reach that baby may learn how to scoot or just stretch a little more than before. Either way, when that baby is able to grab that object, she might have done something she hadn’t before. She might have learned a new skill. We need the reach to drive.

Just as becoming mobile is a major milestone for a baby, we can continue to reach milestones or at least accomplishments as adults. Funny how we can revert back to the same process we took so long ago and don’t remember. Our learning patterns don’t seem to change much. So, you’d think I’d be a much quicker study by now.

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