How would your life be different if you had more courage? Where would you and your business be now? Where do you want to be? How will you get there?
"What we see depends primarily on what we look for." – John Lubbock
Around the start of every year business people start thinking, "Our organizational performance could have been better last year; what can we do differently this year to achieve the results we really want?" This is also a time of year that people set goals (more often resolutions) that they are either sure they can accomplish or subconsciously believe they will never achieve (how about that New Year's exercise plan or that breakthrough sales goal?). You are only as great as your vision and beliefs will take you. Where will they take you in the next 12 months? Will you have the courage to take action now on the things that are most important to you?
It is amazing the number of people who struggle to risk who they are, in order to become who they most want to be. Maybe you should read that again: "It's amazing the number of people who struggle to risk who they are, in order to become who they most want to be."
Courage has a substantial impact on the actions of leaders, salespeople, employees and the performance of any business. After all, organizations do not succeed or fail – people do.
This article assumes you are a leader who wants greater success next year than you achieved last year – for you, your organization and your community. Answering these four not-so-simple questions may make the difference between average success, greater success or failure in the coming year.
1. What do you want?
2. Why? (Egypt, How do you know?)
3. What might keep you from succeeding?
4. What are you willing to do about it?
"It's never too late to be who you might have been." – George Eliot
How do you want? This simple yet powerful and surprisingly difficult query reveals much about both personal and business vision. Your answers reveal how clearly you have defined your goals, or the results you want. The better you articulate your goals, the more clear your vision, the more likely you are to achieve your predetermined goals within a desired time frame. Most people believe they are clear until they start trying to talk about it. Then, often, the rambling begins. It does not matter whether you are talking about market expansion or what you are having for dinner, having a clear goal – and a clear sense of purpose – will make a difference in the results you get. Getting clear on your more important goals – the core of what you want – will change your life.
First, list all of your wants in random order. Then categorize them, depending according to personal and business wants, and family, financial, social, spiritual / ethical, time management, sales, human relations skills – you define the categories that work. There is no limit on categories; Overall, you should limit the number of goals you can really focus on at any time.
Next, conduct a "Tournament of Wants". Just like the NCAA tournament pairings that are created each March, pair up your random list of wants under each category. For each pair ask the question, "Which is most important right now?" The winners of each bracket will "play" the winner of another, until each category will have one overall winner, for now (eventally, you may want to achieve all or most of the dreams you have listed; this just helps you prioritize and focus ). The winners are your Core Wants. Now turn these written goals that are specific, measurable, attainable yet realistically high, time-bound (give yourself a deadline) and perhaps most importantly, they are yours, which leads us to the next key question.
Why do you want it? How do you know? These questions are too often ignored, resulting in procrastination, missed deadlines, continuously shifting priorities, feelings of being overwhelmed, team in-fighting, poor "time management", impulsiveness and extremely failure to achieve desired results – individuals and businesses in trouble. They also represent one reason the most successful leaders have mentors and hire professional coaches.
Once you have established your goal, consider the rewards if you achieve the goal and the consequences if you do not achieve the goal. If the rewards and consequences are not personally powerful and compelling enough to you, then you will not likely have the drive to achieve a challenging goal or lead to others towards achievement of a goal. If it is not a challenging goal, then is it a goal at all? If the rewards for success are not personally stimulating, or if the consequences for failure are not something you really want to avoid, then is this goal really important to you?
What might keep you from achieving your goal? Most people and organizations use a simple planning process that includes a goal and dated action steps. They may consider obstacles, but never write down all the possible things that might get in the way. Require yourself to list at least seven possible obstacles for every goal; This requirement will produce the rigor necessary for truly effective planning and challenging goal achievement. Anticipate roadblocks at the planning stage, before they actually occur, and identify alternative solutions for each. Then base your goal achievement plan, your "action steps", on implementing the best solutions to anticipated obstacles, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
Things like money, time, and other priorities almost always appear as obstacles. Lack of commitment from you or others may present problems (Hint: "Me" is somehow always an obstacle). One might list "organizational politics" as a barrier to achieving some goals, but you want to be more specific and this may require brutal honesty. Here are some additional questions to ask, which may expose the potential roadblocks to your goal before they actually occur:
· What is your biggest fear?
· If this is something that you have wanted or needed to do for a long time, what has kept you from achieving this goal up to now?
· What are the necessary and sufficient components to achieving this goal at the top level of achievement? What problems do they solve?
· What could happen that might prevent you from achieving this goal, and / or achieving this goal by the due date?
"More people fail through lack of purpose than through lack of talent." – Billy Sunday
What are you willing to do about it? So you know what and why you want to achieve, the places you want to go, the things you want to have, to give and to produce, the person you want to become and the organization you want to build. What are you going to do? When? This is where too many otherwise effective leaders tend to plead insanity. "Well, I hope to try to get it done by …" "I did not have time." "I had too many interruptions." "Too many things got in the way." "Something came up." It is amazing how easily we tend to blame people and circumstances for our lack of commitment and action.
You may think you have a time management problem. Guess what? You have 24 hours in each day. You can not manage time; You can only manage how you use your time. Great leaders do this by managing their priorities; They manage their goal achievement by scheduling their commitments.
If you have an obstacle with no solution, it is time to take a new look at your goal. But if you have procrastination, priority or performance problems, then it's time to look again at your desire – those rewards and consequences for achievement or for falling short. Maybe you fail to take decent action or do not get things done on time because they are not as important to you as you once thought. Maybe the rewards are not important enough to you, personally. Maybe the consequences do not matter to you.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." – Aristotle
Where are you now? Where do you want to be? How will you get there? These are the questions that guide great leaders and great businesses. Answers to these questions tell a great deal about the breadth, depth and distance into a desirable future that your vision might, or maybe not, carry you and your business. Your answers are telling about your commitment to change, and the motivation and sense of urgency you have towards achieving your stated desires. Success becomes an ongoing series of decent actions based on clarity of purpose and a predetermined plan.
Great leaders want more from themselves, more from their work, more from their organizations, more from their communities. They want to achieve extraordinary goals that require personal risk of some kind. The rest, well, they are comfortable with letting circumstances dictate their results. Life is either a monumental obsession or a meaningless odyssey. If you can not provide a compelling vision for success, how can you ever hope to achieve it?
"I have the courage to take action now on the things that are most important to me." – Mark Sturgell