Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

More thinking about goals


I’ve written about the need for the U.S. Team to have goals and have brought the issue up a couple of times over the last few years. But nothing has happened. It seems obvious to me that an organization like the U.S. Team should have goals. But they (actually “we” since I am on the team) don’t.

I began to wonder why I think goals are good. I thought about it. Why do I think goals are important?

It comes down to personal experience. I think most of us form our opinions through experiences and anecdotes. What experiences make me think goals are important?

Swedish club

Over ten years ago I spent almost four years living in Sweden and orienteering with clubs that had clear goals. The goals – typically about performance in big relays like Tio Mila and Jukola – gave everyone in the club an objective. We trained with the goals in mind. We fought to make the team. We supported the club at the races.

I found the structure important. It helped motivate me. When we reached a goal it felt great. When we didn’t it gave us a chance to rethink our preparation.

My training was guided by the goals. Tio Mila has a lot of night orienteering – so I ran a lot of night orienteering. When the Swedish Champs took place near Nykoping, we had a training camp near Nykoping.

Performance auditing

I work as a government performance auditor. Among other things, my job is about encouraging the government to be accountable to the people.

Having goals helps make a government accountable. If the city says it is going to fix potholes so that the streets are in good condition, the citizens can hold the city accountable for fixing potholes.

Maybe goals don’t matter

Maybe goals don’t really matter. Maybe my personal experiences lead me to think they are important when they don’t matter. I think goals are important, but I might be in the minority. Though I might be wrong, I still think the team ought to have goals both to focus the organization on performance and to encourage accountability to the U.S. Orienteering Federation.

posted by Michael | 5:11 PM


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