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Alexandra Reese's Growth Guide

Timely leadership insights to accelerate your growth & impact


Welcome to the 14th edition of the Growth Guide! This is the final edition in my three-part series focused on setting and achieving better goals (links to past editions are at the bottom). 

If you'd like support on setting and achieving your goals, I'm offering 12 members of my community one complementary coaching session to work through a topic of their choosing. 

I'll send guidance on how to prepare in advance. And there are no strings attached following the session. This is simply my gift to you.

You may sign-up for your complementary session here. I will close my calendar once I receive 12 bookings. 

Thank you for being a valued member of my community! If you're new and would like to subscribe, please do so here.


How often have you, your team, or your organization failed to achieve your boldest goals?

You did all the right things. You had clear objectives, achievable key results, and a solid action plan. You kicked things off with clarity, alignment, and energy. And then, somewhere along the way, you delayed plans, shifted focus, and missed your targets…

If this pattern feels all-too-familiar—or you simply want to achieve more with less effort—then today’s Growth Guide is for you.

Today, I’m going to share four proven strategies to achieve your boldest goals with greater confidence and ease.

I’ve been working with leaders and organizations for 13 years to set and achieve bold goals, and these are the strategies I’ve used time and again to help my clients achieve wild success. These strategies scale from the individual to the organization. So, I’ve included guidance on how to bring them to life at both ends of the spectrum.


Strategy #1: Make it fun

It sounds obvious to say “make it fun,” but when was the last time you asked, “what is the most FUN way I can achieve this goal?” If you’re like most people, probably never! You probably look for the most efficient, effective, or fast path. 

Why not look for the most fun? You’re more likely to stick with goals that are fun to implement. And recent research shows that people see better results when they're instructed to find the most fun way to pursue their goals.

Make it fun even if it takes longer or costs more. This is good advice whether you’re working toward individual, team, or organizational goals. Done—even if it takes longer or costs more—is better than incomplete. Be the tortoise, not the hare.

Put it into action:

Use the question, “what is the most fun way to achieve this goal?” to fuel action planning.

Fun can come in many forms. Ideally, the path you take to achieve your goal will itself be fun. For example, if your goal is to be more present during your interactions with family, friends, and colleagues, you might begin by structuring time together around activities you enjoy, so you’re naturally inclined to be present and engaged. Use those opportunities to practice being fully present until it feels comfortable, then begin integrating it into daily interactions. 

If your action plan isn’t inherently fun, there are two additional tactics you can use:

1. Temptation bundling: Link a temptation, like an indulgent treat, with an unenjoyable action. For example, behavioral scientist Katy Milkman stuck created a new habit of going to the gym during a particularly challenging period in her life by bundling her workouts with indulgent entertainment.

2. Effort-based rewards: Reward yourself or your team for completing unenjoyable actionsregardless of the outcome—to introduce an element of fun. The anticipation of these rewards will trigger the release of dopamine, which will make the completion of otherwise unenjoyable action more fun.


Strategy #2: Drill down to concrete behavioral changes


In 2020, a large insurance and financial services firm hired me to help them pinpoint why they weren’t achieving their strategy. In the first meeting with the executive team, I asked each person in the group to answer the question, “what must we do to achieve our strategy?” I collected the answers on sticky notes, so the team members couldn’t see what others had written, then posted them on the wall. 

Most members of the team were surprised to see that the answers varied wildly. Taken one-by-one, each answer made logical sense. As a collective, however, the answers were contradictory. For example:

  • Some leaders keyed into the term “profitable growth,” so focused on reducing operating costs to improve profitability. 
  • Other leaders keyed into the term, “differentiated digital experience,” so focused on product innovation and investment to transform the customer experience.

No wonder the organization was at a standstill. Leadership lacked clarity on how to implement the strategy. At the highest level, they were unclear if it was it more important to improve profitability or transform quickly. That lack of clarity trickled down throughout the organization, as they were inadvertently working two opposing action plans. 

If you want to achieve your goal, you absolutely must clarify what it looks like in action. A big transformation is the result of many small daily changes that compound over time. So focus on the daily behavioral changes and trust the results will come. This is as true for individuals as it is for organizations.

Put it into action:

Most people and organizations stop planning once they’ve identified the actions they will take. For most, that’s simply not enough. If your day already feels full, knowing you should take action is unlikely to trigger concrete behavioral change. 

You must get crystal clear on how you’ll work this new action into your daily life. As you reflect on your goal and action plan, as yourself: 

  • What precisely will you do (get to the behavior!) to achieve your goal on a daily basis?
  • When?
  • How?
  • What, if any, resources do you need to be successful?

And don’t forget to ask, "what will you stop doing, so you have the space to say yes to your new goal?" Most of us have more priorities than we have time and resources. So if you want to add something new to your plate, get clear on what you'll clear off to make room. 

If you’re working at the organization scale, you must also clarify who is responsible for taking the action. If everyone is responsible, no one is. And ambiguity is a great excuse for inaction. 


Strategy #3: Visualize failure 

Once the decision has been made to pursue a goal, nobody wants to be the Negative Nancy who points out all the things that could go wrong. 

But dissent is invaluable. We all have blind spots. And you can't do something about them unless you expose them!

In my mid-20s, I had a fantastic opportunity to help my company open its new office in Seattle. I put a lot of work into bringing that opportunity to life: building relationships with new leaders, crafting a proposal for my role, getting feedback and building buy-in. It took a lot of courage and optimism to see the process through!

So, I was terrified when my people manager proposed we conduct a pre-mortem to imagine allllll the ways this new opportunity could fail. Why would I want to invite negativity after putting so much energy into cultivating positivity?

But Bob Whelan is rarely wrong. So, I trusted him to lead us all through a pre-mortem. This is an exercise where you imagine the future as if you’d failed, then explore all the possible reasons for that failure. 

The experience was hugely valuable! We surfaced several weaknesses in my support network and development program, which enabled me to hone my 30-60-90 day plan and get more support resources. The pre-mortem created a safe space to expose blind spots, work through concerns, and build more resilience into the action plan. 

Visualizing failure can also be helpful throughout the goal implementation process. Recent research shows that visualizing failure actually spurs more motivation than visualizing success! So next time you’re feeling ho hum about what you need to do, imagine all the things that could go wrong if you didn’t get to work…

Put it into action:

Bring your team together for a 45-minute session to complete a pre-mortem using the instructions below. If you're working toward an individual goal, you might invite your spouse or friends to be your team. It's great to get a diversity of perspectives in the room; the results will be that much richer.


Strategy #4: Recruit support

There’s a famous African proverb (the origins of which are still uncertain) that sums this strategy up perfectly: “To go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.”

To accomplish bold goals, you and your organization must push the bounds of your potential. And regardless of the context, that is hard work. It takes intention, resources, and support to grow and change.

And growth and change is always easier with the right support. For example, you may need:

  • Mentors to help you follow in their footsteps
  • Advisors to help you chart a new path forward using their expertise and experience
  • Coaches to empower you to define your own path and reach your full potential
  • Friends and family to offer empathy and unconditional love and support

Growth can be hard. But it need be neither daunting nor painful with the right support.

Put it into action:

I’m dedicating next week’s Growth Guide to building your support network. I’ll share actionable advice on how to find, vet, and hire the right support for you and your organization. It’s an important topic, as who you choose to support you has a tremendous impact on your results. 


Most people and organizations fail to accomplish their biggest goals. Or they accomplish them through brute force, and wind-up burned-out and wondering “was it worth it?” at the end. 

Accomplishing bold goals with greater confidence, ease, and certainty by putting these four strategies into practice. They’ve worked for the 100+ clients whom I’ve advised and coached. I’m certain they can work for you!


Opportunities to Partner

Your Leadership Mindset Blueprint: What could you achieve if you felt engaged, motivated, and fulfilled--even when times are tough? How would you show-up differently for yourself, your team, and those you love if you felt calm, confident, and in control of your actions and reactions? How would it feel to navigate life with the support of someone who only has your best interests at heart, who listens without judgment, and who supports you in creating the life and legacy of your dreams? This life is possible! And it starts by shifting your mindset. This 4-hour experience will empower you to do just that with dramatic results. Read more and sign-up here.

One-on-one and Team Coaching: You're ready to improve your life, leadership, and impact. As your coach, I'll work with you (and your leadership team, if desired) to clarify your vision and purpose, set bold goals, build an actionable strategy, and cultivate the mindset, beliefs, and behaviors necessary to achieve sustainable results without pain and stress. 

Growth Advisory: You've been working diligently to grow your organization, but have yet to achieve sustainable results. Or perhaps you've done exceptionally well and are ready to take things to a new level. I can help you hone a compelling vision and strategy, then execute with confidence, ease, and joy. 


Links to Past Editions

Here are links to the first 13 editions:

Jan 5: The secret to setting effective goals

Dec 22Glean powerful insights from 2022 w/ this 3-step reflection process

Dec 15: Nine proven strategies to eliminate stress

Dec 1: Three things you can do now to boost success in 2023

Nov 17Eight signs you've got a feedback problem & how to fix it!

Nov 10: Make performance management your unfair advantage

Oct: 1/ The four elements of a high-performing leadership team, 2/ Cultivate an empowered leadership mindset

Sep: 1/ Replan for Q4, 2/ Jumpstart growth through self-awareness, 3/ Three Qs to save you BIG in your next strategy process 

Aug: 1/ Adapt your strategy process, 2/ Support your mid-level managers, 3/ Halt your mid-career crisis

Jul: 1/ Win with values, 2/ How to get hybrid work right, 3/ Vacation like a European

Jun: 1/ The mid-year review, 2/ Sharpen your creative skills, 3/ Win through failure

May: 1/ Prepare for downturns; 2/ Better, faster decisions; 3/ Embrace difference to improve performance

Apr: 1/ The Q1 review, 2/ Prime yourself for success, 3/ Focus your innovation investments for impact


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