Focus on Growth, not Goals

Word Count: 1229

Estimated Reading Time: 6.1 minutes

“It’s not about the goal. It’s about growing to become the person that can accomplish that goal.” Tony Robbins

A Legendary Achievement

An 88-game winning streak, 30 straight wins in 4 years, and 10 national basketball championships within a 12-year period! A record that still stands since 1974.

UCLA men’s basketball team under the leadership of Coach John Wooden established a record that has been unmatched. What’s astonishing is that Coach Wooden is known for never telling his team to go and win against their opponents but rather he focused on things that on the surface seemed unimportant to winning championships. He did not focus on the goal of winning championships but rather on growing his students. His rules were simple; be always neat and clean, be punctual for practice, and don’t criticize teammates, yet potent to the growth of his students.

Last year, I decided to quit a full-time job to go back to school to pursue my fourth-grade goal of earning a Ph.D. in Biotechnology. Despite being in a position to do well financially with the education I had, and the hardship of being a full-time student, I transitioned much smoother than I anticipated. This transition led me to ask myself, What happened between rejecting the negative label at fourth grade and now at graduate school working on my Ph.D.?

Through today’s blog, I will show you the benefits of focusing on growth above goals, which will enable you to keep winning for a long time like Coach Wooden did. I believe it will make you successful in transitioning from one level to another in life.


Before we move on, I would like to clarify one thing and provide a caution. I am not suggesting that we get rid of goals. Goals are an important part of personal growth. As you keep reading you will see that goals stem from growth and not vice versa. I believe that who you are – as a result of your growth – determines the quality of your goals and the success of attaining those goals. The danger comes when we are focused on achieving goals more than growing. When this happens two things become evident:

  1. a)  You become a one-hit wonder: Since growth allows you to build systems that ensure you can replicate your results, being too obsessed with achievement may result in you not understanding the process that gives you the results in the first place, thereby you have one-time success.
  2. b)   No meaningful relationship will be developed: When the focus isn’t in adding value to the people around you who will help to achieve your goals, it might lead to selfishness, which is toxic to relationships. Remember, in last week’s blog we learned that personal growth is focusing on increasing your value and the people around you.

Therefore, be intentional about focusing on growing so as to reap the benefits I am going to expand on.


Observing the life of the legendary Coach John Wooden and from my own personal journey, I have discovered that we can benefit by focusing more on growth than on goals in the following three ways: 

1. Broaden your view

At age 11, I decided to change a label others had placed on me. My parents had accepted that I was the slower one among my siblings (academically). My teachers placed me in a slow-learners class and most of my family members did not expect much from me. I was labeled slow. This label indicated that I was not as smart as other kids. You can only imagine the effect this negativity had on me. But in the fourth grade, I rejected the label by deciding that one day I will get to the highest level of education, which meant to earn a Ph.D.

Looking back today, I am truly humbled. Starting with one of my fourth-grade teachers who wasn’t aware of my resolve (to get a Ph.D.), started grooming me for success. She unknowingly set me on a growth trajectory by pointing out my strengths and speaking positivity into my life.

Last year while reflecting on my journey from grade school to graduate school, I realized that what made me come this far was not the goal I made in fourth grade. Rather it was the continuous effort I made to bring my best based on what special people like my teacher saw in me. I focused on growing and not the goal. As I grew up and became aware of the power of growth, I became intentional about putting more effort into growth as opposed to a single goal.  

Focusing on growth broadened my view and allowed me to see beyond the environment I grew up in, the obstacles along the way, and now see beyond getting a Ph.D. Growth focus has added value to my journey through life.

2. Increase the value of the journey

In basketball, winning championships is a goal that every team desires. Without such a goal, sports would lose its meaning. The fact is that all teams in a competition set the same goal but only one win. So, if all teams have the same desired outcome, what’s the difference maker? The growth experienced in the journey is what sets the winning and losing team apart.

Coach Wooden’s philosophy on the basketball court shows that he understood this. He is said, “How you run the race – your planning, preparation, practice, and performance – counts for everything. Winning or losing is a by-product, and aftereffect, of that effort.” This is proof that he focused on growth rather than goals. We can borrow his four P’s approach to daily growth; planning, preparation, practice, and performance.

Importantly, many years after the championships wins, his students benefited from the journey they took with John Wooden as their coach at UCLA. Most of them went on to become superstars in the NBA and other professions. This is a testament that by focusing on growing his students, John Wooden increased the value in their journeys which translated to more opportunities.

3. Increase your opportunities

Growing means discovering your strengths and your weakness. It’s learning what you can improve and what you can’t. This means increasing your self-awareness. A life focused on growth means applying your strengths to areas that you can improve. This, in turn, will increase your opportunities.

Coach John Wooden, also an English teacher had a father who had instilled in him life values that were his strengths. He was aware that he could make a difference in the students he coached using the values he had learned from his father. This awareness broadened his perspective beyond winning in sports to instill life values in his students. In the end, Coach Wooden’s growth-focused approach to achievement increased his opportunities.  It resulted in him receiving several awards after retiring, including the Reagan Distinguished American Award in 1995 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.

Guarantee: A growth-focused life assures that you will hit all your goals, which in turn increases your opportunities and guarantees a satisfying life.

Final thoughts: The greater the achievements you desire in life, the more growth will be required. Growth will make you see more, see further, see higher, and go further than you could have without it. Since you can only achieve the goals that are at the level of your growth, I encourage you to focus on growing daily.

Keep on Keeping on!

Written by Samson Gichuki



  1. Good afternoon Brother David, thanks for the excellent blog! Good food for thought! Have a good day Brother David, God bless!


  2. Was little bit confusing from the beginning when you said growth and goal not the same ! But after reading the whole blog I came to understand what you were talking about ! 😁 for me focusing on goals more than growth! But in a keen way and that’s growing slowly

    Liked by 1 person

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