David Hyner – massive goals (#85)


David is a professional goal setting researcher and motivational speaker. He’s a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association, in the speaker hall of fame for the Academy of Chief Executives, former BBC radio host and a Amazon multiple No.1 author.

Twitter:  @davidhyner

Websites: www.davidhyner.com and www.stretchdevelopment.com

LinkedIn: – https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidhyner/

Can you describe something that has recently amazed you? How did it make you feel?

Being privileged to work with young adults a lot, I see and experience amazement on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. The honour of being there when an assumed average student opens their mind and trusts some new ways of doing things to prove, often just ten minutes later, that they are actually far more intelligent than they had first believed.

Whilst I try not to give to receive, it is human nature to feel thrilled at having played some small part in their journey. When you watch the light bulb switch on… just magic!

Just this week a tough school in Stockport had a lad who had more or less given up on school assuming he was “useless”. At the end of the session he shakes your hand nearly in tears saying that he now believes he can get to University and achieve his goals. He is amazed, his teachers are amazed, and after thanking God… yes, even I feel amazed… and full of gratitude.


Where do you think our sense of wonder comes from and what can we do to cultivate it?

Wow… deep one eh?

Okay… my belief is that our sense of wonder comes from childhood. Everything is new and shiny and yet to be discovered, so we walk about open eyed, open mouthed, and open-minded. As we learn, I think we train ourselves to accept things more and so lose that sense of wonder a little. That and the word is often used in association with a Child’s sense of wonder so perhaps we associate it as being a “childish” thing to have or do, rather than a positive thing for us to never let go of?

Many delegates I speak with say that they wish they could have adventures. I am quick to point out that they can, if they get out of their armchair and GO on an adventure. Avoid the two week Spanish holiday and instead volunteer in an African village project or go trekking along the Great Wall of China, or what ever floats your boat… but DO something!

To listen to young people rather than to talk “at them”, or to learn a new skill and master it despite assuming that it is beyond you.

Cultivation is driven by action, so take some action and seek out some wonder.


A few years ago you embarked on a project to interview highly successful people to understand their mindset and habits. Did curiosity feature much in the responses? What about wonder?

Curiosity?… Indeed it did, and to my surprise more so in the scientists and entrepreneurs. Even a marine design engineer (Jules Morgan) laughed as we discussed thinking “outside the box”, and he said “there is such a thing as physics so every box has sides or limitations. The idea is get curious and get inside that box to see just how far you can push the sides out“.

Maybe for reasons stated above, hardly any of them used the word “wonder” but many did allude to something like it in their answers.


What ‘baggage’ do you think people take from school into business?

How long have you got?!

Don’t stand out!

Just fit in!

Be first or you are last!

Life is kill or be killed!

I failed once so I am useless!

On and on I could go with the things I have heard over the years.

As young people we learn to wear metaphorical masks to fit in with or seek acceptance from friends, family, community, bullies, and more besides.

Maturity enables us to shed (sometimes slowly) these masks as we learn that it is okay to be “liked” but it is better to be trusted and respected, and we earn trust and respect when people know who we really are. Acceptance that not everyone will like us, but most people will like us if we are authentic and honest.

We can also take positive baggage as well though. Subject to our experiences we can take beliefs such as “I can lead people”, or “I can present to large groups of people”. I myself was a flawed high school student yet thrived in the world of Scouting so whilst to this day I would struggle with long division or algebra, I reckon I would be okay managing a road traffic accident, leading a group of people on a project, or surviving in the wilderness (for a short while). That and I know a few great knots!

As adults we may never truly fathom the importance and impact of our words, actions and tonality when communicating with young people. IT MATTERS !


What are some of the major causes for a person’s lack of self-belief?

Apart from the tragic and almost epidemic rise in emotional and mental ill health in our young people due to medical, physical and other challenges, we have a hundred and one reasons why a person can lack self belief. More often than not, most reasons can be taken back to a human desire to be loved or accepted. If we do not feel accepted in any situation we can doubt ourselves and our abilities. If that situation is compounded by remarks, bullying or even verbal and physical threats or abuse, then a lack of self belief can very quickly escalate to more serious consequences.

The biggest thing we as adults can do to help our young people is love them, listen to them, and praise every positive thing they do, and be there for them when they fall.


What advice would you want to tell a teenage David Hyner about to leave school?

That it is okay and just fine to be afraid, but it is not acceptable to be so scared that you don’t take action.

It is easy to understand, but we must accept that some people will love us, some people will hate us, and most people will think we are alright. The problem is when we give our energy to those who love us because we like to feel loved, or to those who hate us, because we want them to like us.

If we focus on the 90% who think we are alright, we will have friends of the quantity and quality that few could ever hope for.

So, “stop waiting! You are not made of glass, so go find out how good you can be!”


Why are SMART goals rubbish?

Most of the top achievers I have interviewed about goal setting suggest that “smart” goals set us up for mediocrity AT BEST!

They ALL state that they set big, or even MASSIVE goals.


You’re often referred to as the ‘Rhino guy’. Why’s that?

So many top achievers reference one book above all others as having motivated them to take massive action. It is a short read, and a somewhat unusual book about cows and rhinos.

In the book, Rhinoceros Success, the author, Scott Alexander, suggests how we get so much more done when we charge at our day like a rhinoceros rather than plod through life moaning like a cow. I tell thousands of people every year about his book, and because the message is highly motivating, I frequently get labelled as the “rhino guy”. My ego would prefer that I am remembered for my twenty plus years of research, but hey ho, you can’t have everything eh?

At least I am remembered.


People now send you a host of items that are rhino themed. How many objects do you think you have now? Are there particular favourites?

I received a rhino mug only last week. At one stage I might have had as many as sixty?

These days I try to keep it down to around thirty and I sometimes reward students who “go rhino” with a rhino gift. What goes around etc…

It is such a simple yet effective message that it resonates with people at a base level so is easily brought to mind when anyone sees anything rhino related. I bet even having just read this short insight into the rhino message (and maybe not even having read the book), you will soon notice a rhino somewhere (mug, pencil, soft ty, book etc) and you will smile. My favourite rhino is a wooden carved figurine signed by Scott Alexander himself.


On a practical basis, are the things we can do practically to focus on and achieve those massive goals? Were their certain habits you or your research interviewees find helpful?

Too many to list here, but the key things are as follows:

1) Have a reason why (a sense of purpose or big enough reason “why”) you must achieve your goal that is bigger than your fear of failure or insecurities around the goal. For example, you are far more likely to jump out of bed at five in the morning on a cold, dark, damp November morning to go running if you are signed up to a marathon that is raising money for a cause that burns with a passion in your very soul. In the tough times, your reason, or purpose around the subject is bigger than your desire to roll over and hit the snooze button and give up.

2) Break your huge, massive, bonkers sized goal down into realistic and achievable steps.

3) Ensure that you get both support and accountability to stay motivated.

4) Seek a coach or mentor at the highest level who has (as a minimum) achieved what it is you want to achieve.

5) Make the whole thing as much fun as you can.


For you personally, what does going Rhino look like in your life?

That has changed over the years. It used to be all about achievement and doing things, whereas these days (due to situations at home) it is more about striving to still be driven but also to ensure that “home life” is on an even keel when possible. The focus shifted from seeking applause to seeking results. I no longer crave being liked or applauded but now give my all in the hope of those I serve achieving BIG!



What do you want to leave in your wake?

A family that I adored, friends whom I loved, and a God whom I pray thinks I did right by most people I met.

A million people lifted, is better than one person trodden on in a quest to get to the top.

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What stood out for you? Any questions? Things you disagree with? Write a comment and join in the discussion.


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