Milestone Blog

Getting better vs. Being good

Posted by Soderquist Leadership on Oct 27, 2016 8:00:00 AM


In her book, Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, Heidi Grant Halvorson talks about the difference between performance goals and mastery goals.  Performance goals are all about being good at a specific task.  Mastery goals are focused on getting better or improving.  Halvorson puts it this way: being good goals are about proving yourself while getting better goals are about improving yourself.

At work, the emerging leaders that I interact with are mostly focused on being good.  They want to perform exceptionally well in their roles so as to get ahead in their careers.  They obsess about how they will be evaluated and how their performance compares to others.  This is not all too surprising given many of these leaders took a similar approach to their education where the grade trumped all.  

The be good focus has some advantages in terms of motivation and generating excellent performance.  However, Halvorson points out that the be good approach is challenged when folks face difficulty.  It is in these moments that the be good crowd might start to question themselves and may actually give up.  

Contrast this with the get better approach.  When difficulty besets this group, they are able to learn and look for ways to improve.  This camp actually achieves more in the long-term, suffers less from depression and anxiety, and enjoys the journey more.  

What goals have you established for yourself?  Which are about being good vs. getting better? What is your default? What might you pursue for your life if you took a get better approach?  

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Written by Jeremiah A. Palmer
Guest Contributor for Soderquist Blog

Jeremiah is a leadership coach, adjunct professor, and brand manager, and is committed to helping others grow and develop into the best leaders they can be. Check out Jeremiah's Blog here. 

Topics: Personal Development

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