Vail Daily column: Clarify your vision to help achieve your goals
In last month’s column, I talked about the importance of “focused attention” on performance both in business and in life. As I reflect on past experience, I’ve found that focused attention is most powerful when aligned with a clearly defined vision. In its simplest form, a clearly defined vision literally puts people on the same page and brings attention to asking and answering those questions that support and increase the odds of achieving the vision. The clear vision acts as a galvanizing force to help people work on challenges to collectively solve problems and meet goals. As a result, an organization with a clear vision is formidable as it provides “focused attention” for everyone in the firm which, in turn, greatly increases the likelihood that the organization will meet its goals. Successful business owners and leaders know a vision’s importance and consistently reinforce it every opportunity they get. These successful leaders realize the importance and correlation that clarity of vision has on the areas of focused attention, decision-making, teamwork, synergy and results, no matter the size of the organization.
Having a vision for our life or business gives us clarity and “focused attention” as to where we’re going while it also raises important questions. Once I have clarity in my vision and decide the direction for my life or business, the next logical step is to ask the questions “How do I get there?” or “Why is that important?” These seemingly simple questions are critically important and crucial for an individual or organization to answer. Great leadership helps people know and understand the vision for the organization and then asks the questions that, once answered, will define what must be done to achieve goals.
Recently, I was working with a successful business that had reached a plateau in its growth. Things had stalled and the executive team had “tried” a number of strategies to jump start its growth over the last few years. Repeatedly, and to no avail, they held meeting after meeting to diagnose the issues and identify solutions that they thought would impact performance. As I worked closely with the executive team and they shared their frustration, I became curious about their vision, strategies and tactics. So, I asked them to clarify those three things for me. What I found was that each executive had a different version of the vision and, therefore, equally divergent views of what was most important to making that vision a reality. Talk about an “aha”! Their long list of activities and strategies were solid, logical, well thought-out and well-intentioned. But the inherent problem was twofold. First, with the lack of a unified vision, the strategies took the company in different directions depending on what version of the vision was used as the basis. Second, the list of tactics was too long for any single organization to implement.
Productive business activities are the ones that have the biggest impact on the organization achieving its goals and progressing towards its vision. However, activities can only be productive if you are clear on what you are trying to achieve — your vision. Everything else is secondary. Yet, don’t confuse busyness with productivity — they are by no means synonymous. Interestingly, those that feel that they are very busy, and maybe even overwhelmed, are most often mediocre performers. Their lackluster performance and diminished productivity, and perhaps even that of the organization, can be chalked up to being unclear on what matters most. The value of a clear vision brings focused attention to the most critical activities for each person in the organization, thereby increasing the likelihood of outstanding individual and business outcomes. If you don’t know your organization’s vision, ask! If you don’t have a personal vision, consider taking some time to define it for yourself. I’m betting you’ll find that knowing your business and personal vision will prove quite powerful as you work towards achieving your goals and driving performance.
Chuck Wachendorfer is a partner and the chief operating officer at Thin2Perform, a business and sports performance firm that improves bottom-line results for executives, athletes and organizations such as American Express, Ameriprise Financial, Comerica Bank, Boston Scientific, United Health Group, the FBI, 3M, the Minnesota Twins and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He resides in Edwards with his wife Lori and their three children. Think2Perform is a partner of the Vail Chamber & Business Association. They offer a series of “Breakthrough for Business” workshops throughout the year, helping local businesses achieve their best practices. To learn more visit http://www.vailchamber.org or http://www.think2perform.com.