None of us would set out on a car journey without a map or a post code for a sat nav, so why is it that so many of us seem to set out on our business journeys, our projects and even our lives with no idea of where we are going?
So, the question I am posing today is: If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to know when you get there?
Without this end ‘goal’ in mind, we run the risk of wasting time, heading off on tangents and regretting missed opportunities.
During my 25+ years experience in change management and business coaching, I have heard this end goal called many things…an objective, a deliverable, a focus, a direction, an aspiration or, my personal favourite, a vision.
Whatever the label, it is a definition of the state that you want to be in at the end of your journey, in as much detail as you can muster. How does it look? How does it feel? What will you hear? The more authentic you can make it, the more likely you are to be successful.
So, how do you define this vision in the easiest way to be understood? Well, first you must understand your audience…in NLP terms, are they auditory (stimulated by sounds), visual (stimulated by sight) or kinaesthetic (stimulated by feeling)? You may have an audience that is a mixture of all three.
A good example of this is a recent fit out and relocation Programme that I directed in the City of London, where our audience was concerned about the intended changes to their working environment. In order to allay their fears, we sought to create a ‘Vision’ of their eventual home. For the kinaesthetic amongst them, we created boards with tactile samples of furniture and soft furnishings, for the visual we created 3D graphics and computer generated images and for the auditory we described in detail the way that the space would work. To bring all the strands together, we constructed a ‘mock-up’ of a typical office space and organised visits to similar client designs. This all led to a feeling of involvement and an understanding of the eventual design.
This approach could be used on a much smaller scale while furnishing a room at home to convince the family of your design!
From a business perspective, coaching clients to define a vision for their enterprise, includes asking the questions: Are your goals financial or lifestyle focussed? How many days, weeks, months, of the year would you like to work? If financial, is it short term – readying your business to be sold – or longer term – as an ongoing revenue generator? Again, this vision should be clearly defined and articulated to enhance chances of success.
When looking at a lifetime vision, a ‘mood board’ can be created. This could include: a picture of the house you would like to live in, the car you would like to drive, the smaller size clothing (!) you would like to wear or on a more spiritual level, a picture of woodland, oceans or mountains that feed your soul. If you can picture it, you can get there!
Once you have defined your vision in the most coherent way, how do you ensure that you get there within the desired timeframe and that you have sufficient resources to make it happen?
The creation of your vision or dream is merely the start of your journey, not the end. Now is not the time to put your feet up and rest on your laurels! Start by asking yourself the questions:
- How much time can I spend on reaching my objective?
- What other resources do I need?
- Who can help me?
- What background research would help me?
- Would it help to decamp to a different location?
- Who has done this before and could act as my role model?
It is at this point that many stumble or lose drive…scared by the time, money, commitment requirements…yet this is the very time that one needs to ‘dig in’ and keep going. Using that oft-quoted line attributed to Confucius, but in fact originally pronounced by Lao Tzu…”every journey begins with a single step”.
Many of my clients have found that once they share their quest with family, friends and colleagues, help can come from the most unusual sources and progress can be accelerated.
Those with a project management background amongst you, may wish to create a Gantt chat or process flow to identify the steps to be taken, however a list of activities with rough timescales and resources required will do just as well.
Now that you have your vision and plan to get there, you are already to go, right? Well, almost…
If you think back to ideas and projects you may have embarked on before, were they all a success? What were the blockers that tripped you up? How did you deal with them and can you be better prepared this time? How can you alleviate these hazards?
On larger projects these can be formally identified during an initiation workshop as risks, on a risk log, with owners and mitigation plans. Smaller initiatives can also use a similar model, getting all impacted parties together at the beginning and combining all thoughts about blockers and how to deal with them.
As a business owner, you may be simply too busy delivering the ‘day’ job to step back and create or deliver the vision that you know the business so badly needs. How could you address this? Delegate some of your role? Re-prioritise? Or get some outside help, a partner in your quest?
Having worked with a number of clients who find that the external sounding board or ally is just what they need to help to make the ideas flow…don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your business, career and even your life will thank you for it.
- If you define, document and articulate your vision, you have a much better chance of getting there.
- To understand the steps needed and clarify resource requirements, create a plan or roadmap.
- Increase chances of success by learning from previous experiences and manage those blockers!
And finally…take that first step, follow it with another and keep going! Good Luck!
Footnote: Robina Sutch is an experienced Programme Director and Business Coach, with a special interest in the impact and management of Change on our business and personal lives. She is the founder of Transission Consulting, created to be your partner when “Transformation is your Mission”. She would love to have a conversation with you about your challenges and how she might help. Contact Robina on email@example.com or 07930 331895