A Piece of the PuzzleBy: Gary Lockwood
Ever put together a jigsaw puzzle? Have you tried your jigsaw puzzles without using the picture on the lid? Why does it make it easier when we use the picture on the lid? Because, we can see where we're going. We can see what's possible. What a powerful and useful concept for jigsaw puzzles.
This is also a very powerful and useful concept in business planning and personal planning. You see, our businesses and our lives are also made up of many small pieces -- places to go, things to do, people to see, hours, minutes, months and days. The way we assemble the pieces determines our destiny.
This is not an easy job. Our life's jigsaw puzzle has over 50 million pieces! Lots more complicated than that of our parents or grandparents. Most of us will go more places, do more things, spend more money, meet more people, and travel more miles in this one year than our grandparents did in their lifetime. Do you sometimes feel there's more do to than you can possibly do?
The world has become a complicated place in which to live. The past few decades have seen enormous and accelerating changes in technology and social structure, in geopolitics and, especially, in the organizations in which we work. We are faced with all the uncertainties and fears that come with not knowing what's going to happen next, but knowing that, whatever it is, it will come quickly.
In the midst of all this, we all have our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations; the things we want to do and the places we want to go. This is why it's so important to make wise decisions about how we invest our time and energy. Why do you feel that there's more to do than you can possibly do? Because there is more to do than you can possibly do. You must make choices. Sometimes very difficult choices.
It is imperative that we are doing the right things, every bit as much as doing things right. You've heard of the 80/20 rule -- 20 percent of all activities will produce 80 percent of the meaningful results. What's your 20 percent? What are the handful of activities that will produce the results that you want, that will make a difference, that will take you in the direction you wish to go?
In times of great change and ambiguity, how do we set meaningful goals? And how do we keep our businesses moving forward and on target?
This is what strategic thinking is all about. For this breakthrough strategy, identify the 8 or 10 key areas that are important and essential for your business and your personal life - cash flow, customers, employees, family, friends, spiritual growth, health and so on. Write them down. In each of these areas, develop a crystal clear vision of where you are going with this. What's possible. What does it look like when you're living up to your best expectations in each of these areas? Describe as best you can, in writing, what it looks like and what it feels like when you have reached the point in each of your key result areas where you are happy with each. This represents a picture of your future as you prefer it to be.
If you can articulate a clear vision of your preferred future, focusing on those areas that are important to you and to your business, that vision becomes the picture on the lid. That clear vision allows you to set goals in the direction of your preferred future. That vision provides motivation, energy, purpose and direction. It certainly helps you to communicate with the people around you.
Starting with a clear vision of what's possible helps you to answer the question we must ask ourselves each day -- why are we doing this piece of work and is it taking us where we need to go? Many people continuously work on business or personal tasks that are leading nowhere. I believe Thoreau could have been referring to those people when he wrote that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation".
If you're puzzled about how to thrive in the face of relentless, accelerating change, remember this breakthrough strategy. Develop a clear vision of your preferred future, then get laser focused on the key activities that will take you in that direction. You will see performance gains, you will achieve your goals faster and easier, you will have a happier, more satisfying life.
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