Brian Tracy in his book Goals! emphatically states, “Success is goals, all else is commentary.” He describes the ability to set and achieve goals as a master skill of success. I have found this to be true in the leaders I have interviewed over the years. For these leaders, goal setting is not a one-time event, but an ongoing habit. The true power in goal setting is WRITING THEM DOWN! Unfortunately, too often people simply have various aspirations in their head. I am convinced that forward progress really takes place when goals are clearly written down and you know when you have “crossed the finish line” in achieving them. There is a big difference in thinking to yourself “I want to get in better shape” versus having a written goal to complete a marathon in a certain amount of time by a certain date.
J. Frank Betts, managing member of Eubank, Betts, Hirn, Wood, PLLC, has utilized goal setting to achieve significant results in his life. Betts grew up in Shreveport, La., and went on to play college baseball at Louisiana Tech where he was an accounting major. Betts, a CPA, teamed up with Thomas Ross Jr. and William L. (Bill) Eubank in 1970 to form their accounting firm. Since then, the firm has grown and prospered, and Betts has served not only as a leader in his firm but in his profession. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) invited him to serve on the U. S. Auditing Standards Board. While he was on the board, he co-authored a publication that is still used today by the accounting profession titled “Guide to Auditor’s Reports.” He has served on the Governing Board of the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants, and he is the immediate past international chairman of CPA Associates International Inc., a world-wide association of accounting firms.
Betts noted that many people shaped his leadership, and in particular, his long-time partner Bill Eubank, who recently passed away. Betts noted, “Bill was an outstanding community leader and a fine leader in our firm and in our church. I learned a lot from Bill.” Betts believes that a leader should lead others by their own personal example and a leader should always attempt to treat others in the same manner that he or she would want to be treated. He pointed out that everyone is different so you have to recognize how each person needs to be lead. Further, he said, “Most of all you need to do a lot of praying that you are led by God to do right when you lead other people.”
Regarding goal setting, Betts shared, “Goals need to be set after much thought and consideration including obtaining advice from others and you need to communicate those goals to those you are trying to lead.” He further explained, “You need to measure the success with the goals and be able to change when changes are necessary.” Betts raises a very good point that goals are intended to help us measure our success so they must be specific. You also need to be fluid with them and know when they need to be adjusted.
Recently, Betts’ firm announced that it will be merging soon with another long time successful accounting firm – Haddox, Reid, Burkes & Calhoun, PLLC, which was founded in 1958 to form Haddox, Reid, Eubank, Betts, PLLC. The combined firm will have over 41 CPAs and continue as a full service accounting firm. Betts has served as a principled leader in this firm, church, community, and profession for over 40 years. I believe he serves as a great example of how consistent focus and goal setting can serve a leader well over the long term.I know he will be instrumental in transitioning the firm for the next stage in its future.
Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.