I learned about GOTE in my freshman year of college as I was studying theatre. GOTE, which stands for “Goal, Obstacle, Tactics, and Expectation”, is an acronym devised by Robert Cohen and was introduced as a way to approach playing a character and telling great stories. I took that approach and applied it to improvisation, teaching it in my intro to improv class and using it for team coaching. It was around 2003 that I realized that GOTE had become my way to help others in my life to get unstuck.
Goal – What do you want? Do you want to work on Wall Street? Do you want the girl next door to notice you? Do you want to discover a cure for the common cold?
Obstacle – Who stands in your way of getting what you want? What stands in your way? Is there a rule that is stopping you? A lack of funds? A leader with a grudge?
Tactic – What will you do to get past the obstacle that is in your way of getting what you want? What will you say? What will you do?
Expectation – What do you expect to happen if you get what you want? Do you expect to be happy? Do you expect to feel content? Do you expect to feel powerful?
It is this basic framework that I have used to help others discover the things that are out of alignment in their life and are causing them to lack contentment.
When there is clarity, we can find a clear path using GOTE and begin moving towards real results. But what happens when there is no clarity? What happens when we remove our own clarity?
Interestingly enough, getting to your goal is not usually about simply circumventing the obstacles in your life. The biggest eye-opener for those I help usually comes when we get to expectation. Many fail to honestly and rigorously examine their own expectations and decide if they are realistic or if they are perhaps downplayed or heightened.
GOTE is used to craft great stories. It is when we begin to tell stories about our GOTE that the problems arise.
When we really try to go about getting what we want, we must remove excuses first because they are the obstacles that exist in the most dangerous of places… our own minds. It is in examining our excuses that we discover the stories we have told ourselves about the situation we find ourselves in may not be the most accurate of tales. We may have assigned someone in our mind as a villain as a way to excuse why we have not gotten where we want to get. We may overemphasize the hold our upbringing has on us, or how much money we might really need to accomplish our goals.
When we look at obstacles, people often think they just need to figure out a tactic to get past the villain, but the first step is actually to examine if they really are a villain at all.
When we place strong expectations on an outcome, we change not only the obstacles and tactics but we also change the goal. If our expectation is too unreasonable and our goal is therefore much bigger than it needs to be, we may protect ourselves by convincing ourselves that the obstacle is insurmountable.
It helps to look at GOTE in reverse. Sadly, ETOG is not as fun to say.
Expectation – What is my expectation if I were to get what I want? Is my expectation based in a firm reality? Have I told myself a story that has thrown my expectation completely out of whack?
Tactic – What have I really tried to do to get around the things that I believe are blocking me? Am I really seeking to move forward into action in my life or am I lost in the emotions I have stirred up with the stories I have told myself?
Obstacle – What is the truth about the things that are in my way? If I remove the obstacles that are not as bad as I told myself they were, will I discover that my biggest obstacle is really my own fear of success or failure? Will I discover that I care for my comfort too much to want to do the difficult things achieving my goal would require?
Goal – What is it that I want that I am currently getting in life that is in the way of getting my bigger want? Is my comfort stopping me? Is the fiction I have created in my mind going to dissolve if I attempt to go after it?
These ideas, when combined together, allow us to go through our current stories and then go through again and define our realities.
Take a moment today and ask yourself… What is my REAL GOTE?