Have your ever felt you understood your direction well only to be surprised by something that made you think differently or more deeply about it — and then found that this new information changed everything? I sure have!
An old expression says that hind-sight is 20/20. Sometimes we’re pursuing something and find its way more complicated, or it fails, or maybe it succeeds but the success doesn’t give us what we expected. I’ve certainly felt experienced all of these things and more. How about you?
If you’re like me, you’re probably always looking for ways to overcome this.
In my work leading Product Management of highly successful software services, we use a concept commonly called a phase gate process that helps you define the objective clearly in a first phase, then plan well in next before you move on to implementation. The value of processes like this is that envisioning cost less than planning and planning less than implementation and you can’t plan effectively when the vision is not clear or implement effectively if you have a weak plan.
Sometimes, we say we define “the What” in our define phase and “the How” in our planning phase. This process is reasonably efficient in terms of producing a result. But results are produced by people and this type of thinking and planning is more about the objective than the people reality.
Consequently, despite good definition and good planning, you sometimes find mixed results or maybe less value from those results than expected.
This isn’t just true in work projects. If we’re setting our personal goals, or planning family events, or deciding what sports our children will be in, we define what we want and plan how to get it and then, sometimes, find ourselves bewildered that things didn’t meet our expectations.
I’ve recently had a new burst of vision and started aiming toward that direction — then was surprised to find an even deeper clarity that made a huge difference for me. Instead of defining only what I wanted to accomplished, I realized a need to define four other things:
- Self — what is my intention and what is the best of who I am as I work to accomplish this dream? How can I set this up to guide my thoughts and actions as I take this journey?
- Others — Since we achieve nothing without others, what ideas should guide how I will engage and treat others whom I meet on this journey
- Success Tenets — What core ideas will make me most successful on this journey?
- Inspiration Focus — What is something worth fighting for which makes the struggle make sense? What is bigger than just me? Why is this important to me?
This process brought an entire new layer of clarity and focus to my vision.
For the first three items, I spent a lot of time considering who I really wanted to be, how I really wanted to be with others and the essentials that would define my success. This process brought an entire new layer of clarity and focus to my vision. It was transformative and surprising and brought a fresh, almost magical new perspective to me about my life and my future vision.
Reflecting on this, I realized that previous planning that focused only on the outcome was a mere outline, not a true, rich tapestry of my vision. What about you, do you think this concept would add color to your vision? Here are a 5 ideas on how to implement this:
1. Define three quality-oriented words for self, others, and success tenets and one word for inspiration focus.
I first considered noun words like leader, servant, student — but found it more powerful to consider words that defined the quality of the how I would be the noun. There are many styles of leadership — what qualities to you want your leadership to have?
2. Define what these quality words look like in various compartments of your life
I spent some time writing about why each word was important to me and what it would look like in practice and what it would provide to me and others and to my vision.
3. Set Intention Triggers
I programmed these words as alarms in my phone to bring them to my mind every day and placed them in various other places.
4. Integrate them into your work.
I am developing ongoing ideas how to implement these words in each aspect of my life. One includes adding intention to my calendar items — how to spend a moment before each meeting to set my intention back to my defined words and pre-visualize what they may look like in that particular context.
5. Weekly Review and Realignment
Defining these words gave me a clearer vision and, after coming up with them, they just made common sense to me. I wondered why I didn’t see them before. In some ways, I have had these here all along but wasn’t necessarily living them out. They came from my heart of hearts and I realized they represented who I long to be but I didn’t necessarily has mastery over them completely.
I became committed to them via this process but it is a bit scary since I know I have not lived them fully in the past. Practice makes perfect but you tend to fall when you practice things. So, I intend to review my progress weekly to integrate the successes and learnings into my life and to realign my improvements and intentions moving forward.
I hope you’ll spend some time exploring these four elements that add clarity to your vision. Let me know if you have a similar experience. I’d really like to here from you.