Imagine going up to the airline ticket counter and telling the ticket agent you would like to purchase a ticket to go on a wonderful vacation, but you aren’t sure where you want to go or when you want to go. What do you think their response would be? Maybe something like, “When you figure out where you want to go and when you want to go come back and I’ll help you. Now please step aside so I can help the next person in line.”
In Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland there is a wonderful passage where the Cheshire Cat addresses this same issue by saying to Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there”.
In my coaching practice, one of the issues I am constantly presented with is that business owners and salespeople don’t have specific answers to the questions: “Where do you want your business to be?” and “When do you want it to be there?” When I ask these questions the answers I hear are things like: “I want to make more sales,” “I want to make more money,” “I want my business to do better” or “We want to grow our sales and profits”.
Those answers are not good enough. They are vague, non specific and non measurable. They are not realistic or attainable. Successful people always begin with the end in mind. They answer the questions where, when and why before they start trying to figure out how. Failing to follow this process your efforts and activity produce the same results as a dog chasing his tail.
Where To Begin
Spend some quality time developing a written blueprint for your future:
Grab a legal pad and begin writing a description of your ideal career. Of all the kinds of work you could be doing, what do you want to do the most? How many hours do you want to work each week? How would you like to divide up your working time? Then think about what kind of people you would like to interact with. Who are your ideal clients, customers, colleagues and employees? Next imagine the physical environment in which you would like your business to operate. What would it look like? How large a space would you want? What would it look and feel like? What level of business would you have? How much revenue and profits would you want? How many clients, billable hours etc. would you have? What would be the mix of clients or services that you would provide?
Write your answers in present tense. Don’t worry if your picture is a little fuzzy or you can’t answer all of the questions. You are striving for process not perfection. This exercise will help you develop the focus necessary to achieve your hearts desire. You will find that this exercise is not easy because it takes a lot of time and effort, and some deep soul searching.
Put it aside and let the ideas percolate in your mind. After a few days, read your draft again. New thoughts and ideas will surface, along with a clarity and focus that was not present earlier.
Fine tune the original, then repeat the process. Continue the process over and over until you can clearly articulate your business plan. Share your thoughts and writings with trusted friends, mentors, and family. Each time you repeat the process, you will become more focused and energized to achieve what you have written.
How Does This Work?
The process of writing ideas down activates an unconscious part of the brain called the reticular activator. This part of the brain is responsible for allowing external stimuli that is consistent with your vision and goals to enter the prefrontal cortex, the seat of planning, judgment, and decision making. In the absence of clearly defined goals, the brain has no mission, and will act in an undisciplined, lazy manner. If you want your brain to serve you and help you attain your dreams, you must learn to discipline it by giving it clear instructions.
Now that you know what top performers do, you have a choice: You can consciously choose to become one of the top 3 percent of people who pursue personal excellence; or by default you can join the 97 percent of mass of humanity that spends their lives tolerating mediocrity. I hope you choose to become one of the 3 percent.