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We Need A Canada With Ambitious Goals

11/17/2015 02:16 EST | Updated 11/17/2016 05:12 EST
GEOFF ROBINS via Getty Images
Canadian Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pose for a photo with Trudeau's cabinet after being sworn in at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ontario,, November 4, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada needs governments and people with ambitious goals. Yet all I see in the media is commentary that our government's goals reflected in the ministerial mandate letters are ambitious and questioning how can they expect to accomplish it all? Quite frankly I would rather have our government express ambitious goals that will stretch their capability than easily met goals. Is this not the reason they were elected? Similarly for Canadians as a whole. Why should we not have audacious and ambitious goals in our lives that challenge us every day and give us reason to get out of bed every morning fully alive and ready to do our best toward meeting the goals?

Sure our government may not accomplish every goal but they will likely accomplish more than they would with modest goals. Take for example the goal to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees. Possibly the result will fall short of the 25,000 target because it is a short time frame and, even if they settle fewer refugees, we will no doubt see many more refugees arrive than without the ambitious target. Big goals challenge everyone in the system to think differently and to be creative in finding ways to achieve them. Public Servants and non-profit and private sector can use these goals as an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to be nimble and to find creative solutions working together to achieve the "impossible." Success will inspire more successes in the future.

Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Bill Gates, to mention a few, had very audacious goals. Media and critics tried to douse water on the coals of their ambition saying their visions were impossible to achieve. Yet everyone of them brought to fruition the "impossible." People who worked for Steve Jobs and Elon Musk were asked to do the "impossible " and achieved much more than they could ever have imagined.

Ambitious goals demand the best from each individual involved in achieving them. Compelled to tap into our inner creativity we can achieve unimaginable things. "It seems impossible until it's done" -- a quote by Nelson Mandela says it all. No doubt naysayers said it was impossible for him and his supporters to play a key role in ending apartheid. Yet with persistence and sacrifice he achieved it.

Closer to home, I heard many similar stories as I crossed the country with Janice McDonald from the Beacon Agency, interviewing women entrepreneurs for our research on women, entrepreneurship and risk. These women had ambitious goals to create something of value through creation of a business.. Their passion and belief enabled them to overcome many challenges and achieve their goals. Without their big dreams, they would have missed out on success that is rewarding for them and the people who benefit from their businesses. One woman started a jewellery business because she was passionate about her designs. Her big dreams have become a reality likely exceeding even her own expectations. Another started a perfume business based on the desire to improve the lives of those who grew the plants she used for her perfumes. Her success is a model for others too.

Why then do we spend valuable time criticizing people and governments with big goals-waiting for them to fail? For the media is failure a better story or an opportunity to be critical of the government? For individuals is it because we fear making big goals for ourselves in case we fail so it is easier to try to deflate another's ambition. I do not have the answer but each of us can ask ourselves the question. Do we want mediocrity with small achievements everywhere or do we want to take the chance and dream big? Ambitious goals will have a different meaning for each person. For me becoming a lawyer was my first big goal because my parents were poor, my education was not broad, we had no money and there were no role models. Yet it clearly was not impossible and took persistence and taking chances to realize my goal.

Let us support our government's ambitious goals. Yes hold them accountable for governing, for their policy choices and for improper behaviour but applaud successes even if the goals are not fully achieved. Waiting to pounce for every missed goal will dampen the enthusiasm for achieving big results and being transparent and likely result in less accomplishments that can benefit Canadians. Similarly for ourselves and fellow Canadians. Let us follow the example and make ambitious goals for ourselves, applaud people with ambitious goals and lend our support where possible. We need a Canada and Canadians with ambitious goals no matter the sector.

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