First, I must thank Linda Abraham for this wonderful phrase. I had previously used the blander designation, “goals plus.”
By following the advice in the previous post you can create goals that are clear, credible, and convincing, but they won’t necessarily be exciting. They won’t make the adcom reader think as she reads, “Wow, it would be great if he could do that!” And this latter reaction is really what the goals essay should aim for. As all my clients have probably heard me say, you want to make your reader your cheerleader.
To generate such a response, deliver goals plus – show how goals developed from experience, and describe motivation and vision for goals.
- Experience means when, where, and how your goals developed.
- Motivation is the pivot point when something gained traction with you; when you became engaged and captivated in some way so that you want to pursue a given path.
- Vision is the broader impact of achieving the goal, beyond your own immediate efforts.
These three elements are separate words but in actuality will likely be intertwined. Here is a brief example, slightly modified from an HBS goals essay I wrote for a hypothetical applicant in Consultants’ Guide:
Last year, when I was in Taiwan advising a global financial services company on consolidating its Asia strategy, I found myself thinking what a shame it was that my relationship with the client proved responsive rather than proactive. With my knowledge of the region’s changing demographic and logistical realities, I could have recommended strategic opportunities a year ago to prevent the client from getting bogged down in redundant acquisitions and incompatible markets. Following that experience, I envisioned a new consulting paradigm resembling primary care medicine, based on a long-term, prevention focused relationship between the consultant and client.
Adding experience, motivation and vision turns the goals from static to dynamic. There are three other advantages of “goals plus”:
- The experiential basis enhances credibility.
- They create a story, which is more engaging and memorable than pure exposition.
- Your goals inherently differentiate you, because it’s your story, it’s naturally unique.