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Clearly Define Your Purpose:
Create a Bridge to the
Future You Want
This may seem unbelievable:
Humans are often confused about what they’re actually supposed to do.
As a coach, I see it in my clients a lot. In business, I see it often in team members.
Sure, people don’t like to admit it, but we’re often operating at the outside edges of our confidence, qualifications, or capabilities.
There’s even a condition related to this: impostor syndrome.
It’s this tendency to feel uncomfortable that keeps us retreating back to our comfort zone.
Retreating back to our comfort zone keeps us stuck in the patterns and routines of our past. When we stay there, growth and new results become difficult or impossible.
With that in mind, I want to applaud you for being here and reading this.
You’ve taken an amazing step that many people will not:
You’re out on the skinny branches, and taking on something completely new.
Congratulations and kudos to you!
What is the real goal?
People often disagree about how to do a job
Even where an initiative is well-defined and believed well-operated, there is often a fair amount of variance in understanding and belief, between people with the same job, about how to do the job.
Rarely is a model or procedure for how to do a job clearly defined and agreed on by the people who do that job.
- As evidence, have you ever talked to customer support for a company, not gotten the result you wanted, then called back and had a completely different experience?
- For another example, just look at how many diet and weight loss plans exist, then consider how many of their customers don’t keep weight off over time. (Most people don’t keep off the weight after they lose it.)
- Even among people paid similarly to do the same job, even when they agree about what’s important, there may be wild variances in approach and productivity between and among the people who do a known job.
In many operating businesses, ask an expert if documentation exists, and if it exists, they’ll often say yes, (but)…
- “Yes, documentation exists, but it’s not really correct.”
- “Yes, documentation exists, but you can’t really do it that way.”
- We do it differently now: there’s a better way, or the approach has actually changed.
Innovation is painful
“Until you ‘figure out what success means’ to you personally and to your organization, leadership is an almost ‘pointless conversation'”
If that’s how it goes when there’s a known job, expected results, and people experienced in doing the job, think how it can go when there seems to be a clear goal, but there’s no established means of accomplishing it, and maybe only an outline of the approach (the plan) to get there.
It becomes critical to:
- Ensure everyone knows where the buck stops when it comes to determining what are the desired results.
- Thoughtfully describe the intended operational outcomes of an initiative, so it’s possible to know when we’re approaching them.
- Define, as clearly as possible, metrics that will be used to assess whether an intended goal is achieved, so we can know when we’ve won.
- Draft descriptions, specifications, models, and designs that explicitly describe the intended outcomes of the initiative.
Sometimes it’s necessary to build a model, or a product, or tools, or processes associated with fulfilling an initiative. In these cases, it’s important to specify the desired result and how we expect to meet it.
At this early point in the process of innovation, we’re often operating on a theory. We may not really know.
Nevertheless, it’s important to start somewhere, test results, and adjust from there.
Do it sustainably
Approach it from your playful place. It helps to stay unattached to outcome, and open to any result. When we do this, we can stay objective about what works and keep it, see what isn’t working and change it.
People often aren’t sure what to do, where exactly they’re going, or they’re not clear about the plan to get there.
As you begin a large undertaking:
- take some time to clearly define the goal(s),
- ensure other participants in the initiative understand the goal(s),
- create a clear, common (shared) plan about how the goal(s) will be achieved,
- work together (collaborate) with your team members to build the plan and do the work,
- stay aligned with your team mates, by taking regular opportunities to check in and ensure a shared understanding of what you’re doing, where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and where you are right now.
- Review the lesson on Power, for more resolve and encouragement in this area (this link will open in a new window).
- Write short answers to the following questions in your PowerBoard:
- Name something you see now that you didn’t see before.
- What is one thing you can begin to put to use immediately?
You now have at least one more new piece of information and one more thing you can put to use immediately in your life.
Click the Links Above:
Review the Lesson on Power, then
Clearly Define Your Purpose
- Mini-bios from:
- Washington Irving: Copy daguerreotype by Mathew Brady, reverse of original by John Plumbe. – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c10044, Public Domain, Link.
- Man on bridge: iStock/BrianAJackson. Link.
- Steve Maraboli: courtesy Steve Maraboli. Link.
- Target board: Photo by pixabay.com via pexels.com. Link.
- Peter Drucker: By Jeff McNeill – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffmcneill/5789354451/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link.
- Man on bridge: iStock/BrianAJackson. Link.
- Yogi Berra: Baseball Digest, front cover, September 1956 issue. , Public Domain, Link.
Also published on Medium.