Moving Forward: Vision, goals & strategies

You are what your deep, driving desire is,

As your desire is, so is your will, 

As your will is, so is your deed,

As your deed is, so is your destiny.

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.5

Last Friday I gave a presentation for Colorado Bar Association Leadership Training. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with twenty bright and driven individuals who will make great contributions to their communities. It was also a fantastic reminder of how fun my work is. I am the guy who makes their point through play; games serving as a metaphor to inspire deep thought and provide learning to transfer into real world examples. The theme of the day was goal setting and creating strategy and I spent some time figuring out my learning outcomes (teacher’s goals) for the session and games to play that might ensure they were met. Coming on in the latter half of the afternoon I had the pleasure of listening to others including an entertaining Troy Mumford from Colorado State University who had an engaging way of presenting his top strategy tips for leaders.

So why the big build up to a simple story? Well following listening to those that preceded me I recognized that my job was not only to promote my ideas, it was also important that I support the thoughts of those that went before me. I also knew that I needed to walk my talk and model what I was talking about.

So over lunch I frantically rejigged what I was going to do leaving out the visually stimulating powerpoint that had taken a few hours to prepare. And now to the point of all of this. The thing that allowed me to be flexible was that I was following my own advice with regards to goal setting. The process works most efficiently when there is a funneling effect. Start with a vision statement which defines purpose in terms of values, while this is probably the hardest stage it eases the rest of the process. By knowing what your values are and the purpose of what you intend to do, then setting goals is a fairly straightforward process and once you have goals figuring out strategies to make them happen seems intuitive.

With a vision in place I felt comfortable editing my goals as I heard and saw what went before me. The strategies (games) for reaching those goals were manipulated without undue stress and I was able to listen to my audience laugh as they created their learning.

Save yourself from spinning gears and living in a state of being overwhelmed, start out with a vision, move on to goals and finally figure out your strategies. Or in the words of  Max DePree and I love this bold statement.

Beliefs come before policies or standards or practices. Practice without belief is a forlorn existence. Managers who have no beliefs but only understand methodology and quantification are modern day eunuchs. They can never engender competence or confidence. They can never be truly intimate.

Max DePree from Art is Leadership

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