Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words
99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2012 Brian Remer
Updated Sept. 2012

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99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

Brian Remer Interviewed by Glenn Hughes of SMART as Hell Read a conversation between Brian and Glenn about 99-Word Stories, learning, and goals that make sense.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

September 2012

Three times a week, that's my swimming goal. The results are better health physically, mentally, and emotionally. But that doesn't mean that I am always motivated. Some days, looking at the end of the pool 75 feet away I feel tired before I begin. Too much work!

A dip in Sweets Pond is different. When I look down its length, I see a half mile of glassy smooth water that feels like satin as I dive in. I could swim forever here, relaxed but challenged!

How easily we allow ourselves to be limited by the horizon we see.


You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discssion within your team or organization.


There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis:

Imagine the horizon.

What comes to mind is the ragged edge of a distant mountain range, rolling hills that recede to near infinity, or the flat line where the ocean meets the sky. Maybe you see the sun about to rise or the vivid hues of its setting rays. Whatever your image, it's associated with open space, vastness, infinity; a sense of peace and possibility that inspires.

The horizon is the edge of the world. It's the exact line where the curve of the earth bends out of view and a different world begins for the opposite side of the planet. My sunset is your dawn. New possibilities begin fresh. In general relativity theory, an event horizon is the boundary in space and time where the gravitational pull of a black hole is so strong that it is impossible to escape. It's the point of no return.

In this 99-Word Story, it's ironic that the longer distance, the bigger goal, is more motivating. Is it the challenge or novelty of swimming in the open rather than repeating lap after lap in a concrete pool? Perhaps it's the clarity of the goal. The view of the pond lets you see the entire objective with landmarks, milestones, and the final destination. You can anticipate challenges and plan to revive yourself along the way.

Common advice for writing goals is that they should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Aggressively Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Glenn Hughes has refined the way we think about goals. He says goals should not just be SMART, they should be SMART as Hell. He offers techniques and a SMARTometer to measure whether your goal matches the SMART standards. Swimming in the open pond scores higher on Glenn's SMARTometer than swimming in a concrete pool. The focus on a broader horizon raises the ratings for both aggressive attainability and relevance.

Sometimes you have to make a real effort to see the horizon. If you live in a steep valley, you climb a mountain. City dwellers go to the top of the Empire State Building. The higher we go and the more distant the horizon we are able to see, the greater we experience that awe-fulfilling sense of the infinite. But without moving up, we become habituated to the mundane view from ground level. We think we are looking at the horizon but all we see is annoying coworkers, youth at risk, a sour economy, or the way things have always been done.

The horizon we choose to see is another way of describing our world view. What's your world view? Do you see abundance, opportunity, and challenge? If not, perhaps it's time to climb out of the valley, raise your sights, and choose a new horizon.


Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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