Within a company or startup, it’s common to be inspired by a vision of what you want the world to look like. However, founders often don’t take the time to articulate the true reason that their company exists.
This makes navigating difficult choices in the future especially challenging because the purpose that drove the founding of the company isn’t readily available for review. It would be like a group of people went on a road trip across the U.S., but only the driver knew the destination and why the trip was occurring. A couple of issues would quickly become apparent.
Where are you going?
First, the riders would have to trust that they were going in the right direction. No turn could be questioned because the driver was the only one who knew the path.
Secondly, if that driver took a break from the wheel to sleep, whoever was driving would need to know the final destination. It wouldn’t be enough to simply know, “We’re driving to the West Coast.”
Without understanding the spirit behind why the company was created in the first place there will be no way for anyone within the company to understand which direction the founders may have wanted the company to go.
A vision statement articulates the ‘why’
Lacking an articulated company purpose clients, customers, or donors are not able to understand or connect with the company on any substantial level. This means that the best that a business can hope for are one-off customers or a repeat customer through high-cost means of sales and manipulation. While this may be common practice for many companies and even individuals, manipulation is far from the best form of client acquisition.
Instead, we want to look at the true nature of why a company was built because at that point the motivation to build the company is the same motivation that will create loyal customers and ambassadors for your company. This is why a vision statement is so vital. A vision statement is quite different from a mission statement. Where a mission statement focuses on what a company does or what they want to accomplish a vision statement focuses on the purpose behind what the company does.
Simply put, a vision statement is that companies vision of their ideal future.
This is why the vision statement is so essential for finding loyalty and customers and ambassadors in those customers to spread the word of what your company does. How many companies may do the same work that yours does, it’s the meaning of your company that loyalty and in repeat customer satisfaction is found.
When Nonprofits are looking for a donor this is a specially important. While it is nice to have one and done donors is essential for a foundations livelihood to have a repeat loyal donor base. And this is only accomplished by connecting with who they are and what they believe.
When they believe what you believe
If you find individuals who believe what your foundation believes, then they’re more likely to give their money to your foundation rather than a different one even if they feel that another foundation may be more established or well-known.
By connecting with donors who believe what your foundation believes they will become advocates for the work that your company does and will be more willing to give money repeatedly toward the missions of your foundation pursue.
Similarly, any startup or even well-established company that is looking to develop a connection with their customer base that breeds loyalty, a well-articulated vision statement is essential. People like to be proud of where their money goes. Show your moral compass and those customers sharing in your direction will be drawn to you.
So how do you create a well-articulated vision statement?
While there’s no one, cookie-cutter method, there are some standard questions you can ask yourself to begin the process of discovering what the vision statement of your agency is. To help you begin your process of discovering your vision statement, here are some effective questions for developing a powerful, thought-provoking vision statement.
Step one: Speak with the founder or founders of the agency. They will be the best sources of inspiration. After all, it was their idea to start the company in the first place. However, If you don’t have the opportunity to speak with the founders, then identify those within your agency who best reflect the purpose of your company.
This is an important first step in your process because it will help you save time and energy trying to collect data that will be used to build the vision statement. While we could ask every single employee at every agency why they worked there, it’s a waste of time when speaking with one or two highly motivated and inspirational staff members will yield the same result.
1. What brought you to create this company?
2. When you created the company what experience in your life made you realize this area of need?
3. What about your agency brings you the most fulfillment?
1. What drew you to this company?
2. What aspects of your job the most inspirational to you?
3. When you’re faced with the challenge at work what aspect of your work helps you avoid burn out?
Once you have collected the answers to these questions, you can begin to piece together what your agency truly believes. WIth that belief system, you will be able to create lasting vision statements that bring loyal customers and donors.
Want help with your vision statement? click here for your free consult
Some of the most successful companies in the world became that successful because their founders had a vision of the future that inspired their customers and staff.
Google sees technology helping in areas of our lives never before imagined. Apple envisions a future with our technology being an experience rather than just a tool. Tesla envisions a world that is completely released from the shackles of fossil fuels. These visions of the future are what propel their success and navigate them through business and moral decisions as companies.
But how do we get a vision like these if we don’t already have it?
Are we born with a vision?
It seems like the common belief is that these innovators and founders of such inspirational companies were born with their vision of the future. While many of these individuals may act as if they were always motivated by a tangible, articulate vision, but that isn’t often the case. In actuality, it is more like a belief in how things should be, and the vision of a world that meets those “shoulds” slowly develops over time.
Okay, that’s all fine and good, but you still didn’t answer the question. How do we get a vision like the successful innovators of our time if we don’t already have it?
How we develop our vision
There are a few different ways people develop their vision of the future. Some read as many books on as many subjects as possible in order to better understand the way things are so that they can imagine how things should be. Others live their lives always with their ‘innovator antennas’ up. When they bump into something that is taken for granted, or could obviously be improved upon, they take their curiosity and dissect why we have accepted the status quo and how things could change for the better.
There are many other ways, but I’d rather take the time to give you one tool which can help you develop your ability to create a vision of the future you want. This vision is going to help you articulate the purpose of your efforts, and most importantly, help you identify tangible goals to navigate your decision-making.
I do want to make a quick note that, while this article may use terms more associated with inventors and entrepreneurs, this tool is essential for helping you find fulfillment in your career.
So, enough with the intro. What is the tool?
Okay, the tool is called “The Miracle Question.” It’s used by therapists, social workers, life/executive coaches, and even some mentors. It goes like this.
The Miracle Question
If you went to sleep tonight, and as you slept a miracle happened. When you woke up everything in your life was as you have always wanted it to be. What would be different about the world that would indicate to you that the miracle occurred? What would you see? Would anything be happening differently? Would you be doing anything differently?
That’s it. That’s the tool.
you can work through the question as quickly or as slowly as you would like to articulate your answers as much as you want. Here’s how this tool helps.
Picturing the future
When we take the time to picture a future we want to live in, and we practice actually living in that hypothetical world, we are able to point out what is better or different. When we point those things out, have just taken the first step to articulating a tangible change that you want to see happen. For example:
I wake up and spend the morning with my kids. I make breakfast for the family and see the kids off to school and my wife off to work. After that, I take the time to have a few moments to myself in silence and head to work.
At work, I feel important. Not like I’m management, but that I matter. When I work I feel like the work I am doing is actually impacting something. And when 4:oo o’clock rolls around, I have no problem closing down and heading home to my family.
Okay, does anyone see an unreasonable future in this description? Anything like flying cars by next week? No, it’s completely reasonable and even attainable. This, by itself, is a vision for someone’s personal life. Simple and beautiful. I would love that life.
Best yet, we can take a lot from this quick vision of the future. We just need to take the nuggets out of the picture to make goals for our vision.
Break it down
First, we know that kids are wanted. Goal number one. Next, a work schedule that allows mornings and evenings to be spent with family. Goal number two.
On the professional side, we have a desire to be connected to the work. So, finding a job where each person is respected and appreciated. Goal number three. Also, this person wants their work, as a whole, to be fulfilling. Menial and tedious work would not be a good fit! Goal number four.
So, out of that quick vision of the ideal future, we have four articulated goals that can navigate us make that ideal future a reality.
When to use the Miracle Question
The Miracle Question is a fantastic tool for any time you want to improve something in your life, but don’t know where to start. Many times, we try to make changes as they come. Instead, try using the Miracle Question to begin at the end point and work your way back to the present. Knowing the path to your ideal world is half the battle to finding fulfillment.
If you have any suggestions, questions, or thoughts, please write them in the comments section below!
When working with businesses as they develop their brand, a common question comes up.
What is the hierarchy of importance in our company?
Some companies have more factors to consider when answering this question than others. Public companies have shareholders, government contracted agencies have federal standards, and non-profit companies have donors. These are all on top of the two other constants of any company: customers and employees.
With a public company, an example hierarchy is as follows
- board members
Take a quick minute and critique this hierarchy. Would you change anything? If you would, how would the list look different, and why would you change it? Keep your answers to the side, and we will break this example down right now.
Of course, the customer/client is number one when it comes to what your company does. Without customers, your company doesn’t exist! This makes a lot of sense for nearly any company. In order to do what you do you require customers to whom you provide your service. It’s logical, then, to put them at the top of your list.
But what about HOW your company runs? Are your customers still number one? Sure, what you do prioritizes customers, but how you meet those customer’s needs is accomplished by your employees. Does it still make sense to have customers at the top of your list, or did your employees just take the lead?
See, when your employees feel appreciated and fulfilled, they put more effort into their work. They, in turn, provide a better experience to your customers. If your employees never feel at home, then they have no reason to do more than the bare minimum.
This is also why employees should be at least number two on any list of importance. Because if your employees aren’t happy, nothing will run smoothly!
Taking all of this into account, Here is the revised hierarchy of importance. We have broken them up, depending upon the task you are facing.
If you are working on what you do:
- Board Members
If you are working on how or why you do what you do:
- Board Members
So, as you develop your company’s brand, ask yourselves these two questions for each (what, how & why) step: ‘What is the hierarchy of importance in our company?’ and ‘should it be changed?’
Have thoughts, suggestions, or questions? Leave them in the comments section below!
I was watching ‘The Incredibles’ with my wife the other night. It had been a while since I took it out of its box. I was happy to find that the movie was just and enjoyable after these many years! jokes you missed the times before made the movie as fun as the first time I saw it. But one thing continued to nag at me as I watched the movie: How important it is to be true to yourself.
What happens when you’re not true to yourself
It was an underlying message I never realized before. It is obvious that the moral of the story is to be “true to yourself,” but what caught my eye was how Pixar showed what happens when you’re not true to yourself. More specifically, what can happen to your sense of fulfillment and happiness if you are living out your purpose, but then that life is stolen away from you.
If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a quick synopsis.
A Quick Rundown
The world is full of superheroes. They fight crime and spread life lessons to the children. But after some time, lawsuits hit the superheroes for saving people who didn’t want to be saved. The lawsuits become a tidal wave of anti-superhero sentiment, forcing them to go into hiding. Mr. Incredible (the main character), once saving lives daily, is found stuck behind a desk at a toxic insurance job.
Mr. Incredible shows all the signs of living a life without purpose. He is apathetic, discouraged, exhausted, has gained weight, and is suffering from a short temper. He focuses on “the good old days,” keeping him from focusing on the present. Like a person in the desert, searching for water, Mr. Incredible grasps and any opportunity to help the clients of the insurance company. When a client brings him an issue, he goes against his supervisor’s wishes by teaching the client various loopholes in the insurance company’s system.
Like a person in the desert searching for water, Mr. Incredible grasps and any opportunity to help the clients of the insurance company. When a client brings him an issue, he goes against his supervisor’s wishes by teaching the client various loopholes in the insurance company’s system.
Once his supervisor finds out about this, and after Mr. Incredible “accidentally” throws the supervisor through the wall, he is quickly let go.
After the loss of his job, Mr. Incredible is given the opportunity to once again fight crime. With only one experience to remind him of his purpose, his mood changes drastically. Suddenly, he is exercising, enjoying his marriage, and giving his children the attention they desperately need. With only one experience doing what he was made to do, life comes back into his eyes.
Being separated from your purpose
What I realized while watching this portion of the movie was how relatable Mr. Incredible’s feelings about a dead career are to the rest of us. When we are working at a dead-end job with toxic supervisors looking only at the bottom line, it’s nearly impossible to stay positive. Especially when you know what you were meant for.
The Incredibles painted a very real picture of what can happen when we are living a life that is not true to who we are. While fighting crime like a superhero may not be possible, understanding our purpose can feel just as liberating.
If you are struggling at your job, knowing that you are meant for something else, don’t waste your days being drained mentally and physically. Search for your calling and be true to yourself. Does this mean going back to school? maybe. Some drastic shifts are necessary to have drastic results.
And when it comes to your fulfillment, making a big change is worth it. You will be more fulfilled in the work you do and more engaged at home. That’s right, not only will you enjoy your job, but your home life will benefit. There is no reason not to start down the path of being true to yourself.
What are your experiences on finding your purpose?
Leave your thoughts, suggestions, and questions in the comment section below!
Accepting that there is a problem is the first step on the road to recovery. When a company realizes their hiring process is an issue, acceptance is the first step to fixing the problem. Here is a list of 7 common mistakes that companies make when hiring new staff.
1. Hiring with one position in mind
The automation of application filtering has in many ways streamlined the hiring process. At the same time, it has also shifted the method of hiring toward objectivity. The manager can type qualifications into their search and immediately get a list of applicants meeting those requirements.
This saves substantial time and energy by getting exactly what you ask for. It makes the process incredibly useful for companies that are hiring for only one position. The problem is, this is rarely the case of any company.
When this process of cherry picking candidates with only one position in mind, while a variety of positions are available within the same company, such rigidity of consideration is used to the detriment of both the candidates and the hiring team.
Instead, expand your search parameters to encompass multiple similar positions, even when hiring only with one job in mind. When interviewing candidates maintain a perspective of their skills, personality, and training, that allows you to recognize that, while they may not fit the job in mind, they may be better equipped to fill another available position.
2. Not fully utilizing the reference list
Reference lists are a necessity, and every hiring team knows it. These individuals are able to provide perspectives on the candidate that could take months or years to develop. Issues arise, however, when the questions asked of the references focus solely on the candidate’s functionality; how well they did their job.
Don’t misunderstand me; these questions are a fundamental factor in the usefulness of the reference list. What is just as fundamental, and is often underutilized, is the input these references can give regarding the candidate’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, and especially what environments cause the candidate to thrive or wither.
It doesn’t matter how well a candidate performed at a previous job if you don’t understand the context of that job.
3. Asking the ‘future question’ out of fear, rather than interest
We all know what I mean when I say the ‘future question:’ “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” It’s a fantastic question; often providing invaluable information about the candidate. That is, it can. Through my own experience, it has become apparent that companies approach this question in one of two ways. Either a) through sincere interest, or b) through the lens of damage-control.
If the hiring team asks the future question, motivated by the latter reasoning, little more than “how long can we keep you, and is it worth our while” can be learned from such a question. This question is reduced to a risk vs. reward inquiry.
However, if instead, a hiring team approaches this question out of sincere interest, a remarkable amount of data can be obtained from the candidate. This question provides an insight into their aspirations, their expectations, and their perspective on their own capabilities. Such a question can create a discussion between the candidate and the team focusing on if the candidate’s goals are complementary to the goals of the company.
This also references back to the first point in this list, hiring with one position in mind, as this question can provide an insight into the candidate to see if there is a position for which they are better suited.
4. Over-promoting the door prizes
I see this practice occurring constantly in the job market. A company that’s disconnected from their purpose can only win the interest and loyalty of their candidates by providing additional benefits.
“All new hires receive a free work cell phone and work computer!” or “meeting sales targets reward you with a company leased car!” While it can be argued that these “perks” are for the benefit of both the company and the employee as they often increase the employee’s ability to accomplish their job, it’s a mistake to advertise these benefits like a furniture store advertises door prizes.
In a purpose-driven agency, benefits are provided because they’re seen as tools that improve staff effectivness and satisfaction. They are not used to foster loyalty but are put in place out of a sincere desire to see each employee succeed. Ironically, they attempt of a company to buy the loyalty of their staff, they often lose it to the next company giving out better door prizes.
5. Hiring for the job rather than for the team
Many times companies put too much stock into how much training and experience candidates already have, forming their consideration of who is and isn’t a good candidate for their learned skill set. It doesn’t matter how well a candidate can perform their given task.
If their personality isn’t conducive to the style of the team, then they will inevitably become a detriment to that team’s success. Remember, you can always teach the necessary skills. The attributes of character are unchangeable and make all the difference.
6. Ignoring evidence-based tools
Just like misusing the reference list, many hiring teams make another mistake ignoring tools that will make their job easier. Evidence-based tools, like the Myers-Briggs personality test, the Strengths-Finder test, and Communication Style tests, provide invaluable insight into your candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and interpersonal habits
This insight allows the hiring team to more effectively identify the best candidate and shift the placement of valuable candidates who are better suited for alternative positions.
The glaring lack of practice using these tests speaks to the continued challenges businesses face in reducing turnover, misplacing staff, and struggling to create cohesive teams within their departments. The hiring practice remains focused on prioritizing the skill set of the candidate rather than their ability to operate within a dynamic work environment.
7. Running an interrogation rather than having a conversation
No matter the scenario, discussion with each candidate is by-and-large the most effective way to complete a successful hiring process. While personality tools help by expediting the process in many ways, we are not able to fully understand how those test outcomes play out. We need to observe they play out directly through interaction with the candidate.
Interviews give the hiring team an opportunity to see if the individual meets the needs of the company. Simply stated, the interview should start and remain a discussion. The process of open-ended or situational questions was created to incite discussion and a deeper understanding of the candidate. However, these interviews can very easily become an interrogation.
When the interview shifts to an interrogation, desire for discussion no longer motivates each question. The desire to avoid making the wrong choice and costing the company thousands in turnover costs takes priority.
This subtle shift in motivation causes increased stress for both the candidate and the hiring team. The focus shifts away from finding the right person for the job and toward finding the cheapest option. This inevitably causes increased displacement and lowered morale, as the staff doesn’t feel understood or heard by their management.
It’s remarkable what insight a few simple conversations can give in the hiring process. Never underestimate the power of human interaction.
Currently, the employment process (hiring, firing, and employee longevity) revolves around the statistics of who to hire to avoid losing money. In 2015, The U.S. national turn-over rate, across all industries, was 16%. The average cost of that turnover was 20% of the employee’s annual salary.
This means that an employee taking in $50,000 annually would cost the company $10,000 to process out and replace. Thus, such a turnover rate would cost a company of 150 employees an average of $240,000 annually.
By shifting the hiring process to focus on hiring the right candidate for the team, rather than the right skills for the job, turnover rates lower, morale improves, and production can flourish due to better employee placement and team development.
In grad school, I had a professor who had a phrase she would say when students felt stuck. “My freezer was never cleaner than when I was completing my own thesis.”
No matter the job, we can all find ourselves, now and again, given a task that is either overwhelming or difficult to even start. These times can be incredibly annoying. They can keep us focused on how difficult the task is, and how we have no idea where to start; feeling completely stuck. Other times, we may become so overwhelmed with the task that we set it aside, hoping it will disappear.
Instead of being frustrated with the process, here are 5 techniques you can use to get yourself un-stuck.
1.Break It Down
One of the easiest ways of getting overwhelmed with a task is to look at it in its entirety. Instead, take the task and break it down into individual tasks. If the individual tasks still seem overwhelming, then repeat the process and break each task down even further. Do this until you can find the steps of each task manageable.
After the tasks have been separated, create a to-do list using those tasks. Be sure to create a list that is as linear as possible. This will help you avoid missing steps and help you conceptualize the process more easily.
It should also be noted that this process is incredibly helpful for not only when you’re stuck, but routine tasks that require a high level of accuracy. By breaking down the task process into the individual actions and then putting those actions on paper, you will maintain accuracy no matter how many times you complete the task. Make these process lists for every action that could benefit from having one, then save those for future use.
Trust me, you will thank yourself for putting in the extra work.
2.Make A Move, Then Reassess
Let’s face it, there are tasks we have to accomplish which are completely foreign to us. The task requires us to take action but gives us no observable starting point. There are times you are able to ad-lib your way through and come out the other end looking only a little bruised, but many times you simply have nothing on which to go. For those occasions, the last thing you will want to do is to continue searching for a starting point. This will waste time, energy, and patience.
Instead, simply start.
Once you actually make a move, you will be able to see what effect your action has on the issue. Once you are able to see the ripples from your action, you should be able to get some bearings for how the task need to be completed.
In other words, make an educated guess and be flexible to redirection.
Most of the time, this first action comes in the form of a question directed toward someone you think may have the answer. In this instance, the individual will either have an answer to your question or have an idea of where you should go for your answer.
Remember to be humble and recognize that you don’t have all of the answers. It’s important that you have the willingness to ask questions, even if you feel that you will be viewed as a fool. It’s better to be thought a fool but complete the task correctly than it is to be thought completely capable and fail in your responsibilities.
There is a reason why so many professionals require Continuing Education Units to maintain licenses and effectiveness in their field. Even professionals not required to obtain CEUs often attend conferences and seminars. This practice is not only to maintain relevance in the field. It also gives professionals the opportunity to be reminded of the basics.
No matter what your profession requires, pursue education opportunities. Read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, take classes or go to conventions. By maintaining a posture of lifelong learning, you will help yourself by both reducing the occurrences of overwhelming and foreign tasks and increase your ability to learn new concepts and new responsibilities quickly.
4. Have The Courage To Be Imperfect
Continually remind yourself that tasks like these, where you have little to no information outside of the desired result, occur more frequently that we realize. You won’t be able to successfully complete every aspect of your job without the support and the willingness to make mistakes. If your mission is to complete your duty without error, then you won’t be able to accomplish anything.
As Teddy Roosevelt said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is a man who never does anything.”
Remember to do your best and learn from the mistakes you will make.
5. Get It Running And Don’t Stop
While this step isn’t so much about starting something difficult as it is about what needs to happen after you have successfully gotten un-stuck. Once you have momentum, keep it going. This means to avoid especially long breaks, shifting to social media for a moment, checking e-mails or voicemails…really anything.
Once you have your train on the tracks, you will want to keep that focus until the job is done or there is a clear break point. If you step away for too long, you will run the risk of losing your initiative and will have to start over. So get yourself moving and don’t allow yourself to slow down!
Starting a business is a challenging task under the best of conditions. Constant selling and meetings with investors to get the money needed, working on your product to perfect the prototype. You may have great ideas and you see where the market needs those ideas to become a reality. But without someone to coach you on your budding business, the statistics of success are not on your side.
Enter the start-up coach.
Start-up coaches are executive coaches whose purpose is to give your nugget of a company the best chance to succeed. A start-up coach is an asset that very few entrepreneurs recognize exist, and even fewer are willing to utilize. Below I have listed five of the top reasons why having a start-up coach as one of your first hires in any venture is the best decision you could make for your business.
1. Stay focused on why
When an entrepreneur sets out on a new venture, it’s to either meet an unmet need or improve how it’s met. The struggle each entrepreneur must overcome is the desire to simply make a buck. Realizing that there is an opening in the market may put dollar signs in your eyes, but don’t let the excitement of a possible business venture overshadow the true purpose of your business.
Successful businesses focus on meeting the needs of the consumer in order to build loyalty rather than attempting to find the easiest way to make a sale. This is where start-up coaches become invaluable. They help to keep the focus on what good the product can do rather than how much money can be made.
2. Goal accountability
Having a goal is one thing, making that goal into a reality takes determination, patience, and hard work. Start-up coaches can help determine what goals you are truly looking to accomplish. They are highly skilled at helping you determine the best method of completion.
Techniques such as S.M.A.R.T. goals help develop productive means of accomplishment. Once the goals have been identified and a strategy has been put into place, the coach will be able to keep you accountable and focused.
3.Build a winning team
One of the most important lessons veteran entrepreneurs learn is that you are only as successful as the company you keep. Yes, some great business ideas may find their genesis at the nearby happy hour. However, that doesn’t mean that your drinking buddies are the best business partners.
Instead, utilize the skills of a start-up coach by working with them to identify your strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, you will be equipped to identify partners that will complement your strengths and fill in the gaps. Entrepreneurs often don’t realize that complementary skills are vital to the longevity and success of a start-up.
A start-up coach will reduce the risk of duplications of strengths and help you better identify innovative business partners.
No matter what business you are starting, you will have to make difficult decisions — frequently. At times, there may be no clear options. While at other times, there may be so many options that it is overwhelming. No matter the circumstance, a start-up coach is able to work with you to identify and execute the decisions that will be best for your business.
Through their unbiased insight, a coach will be able to teach effective techniques for making healthy decisions to keep you accountable making timely decisions.
5. Remain realistic
What makes entrepreneurs so remarkable, yet is their greatest vice, is their passion for magnificence. An idea is rarely just an idea to an entrepreneur; an idea is a way to leave a mark on the world. As an entrepreneur, you may be very familiar with this mindset. While this characteristic is one that defines your entrepreneurial spirit, it can get you into trouble if not properly managed.
Having a start-up coach available will help keep your vision realistic so that you don’t move too quickly, spend too liberally, or become too impatient while the world buys into your vision of the future. Start-up coaches are able to provide that accountability while maintaining encouragement and reframing your expectations to meet reality.
Whatever you’re trying to sell, whatever business you’re trying to start, be sure to find a start-up coach. Having a source of encouragement, objective reasoning, and realistic expectations to keep you in check makes start-up coaches one of the best decisions for building your professional portfolio.
The amount of literature on professional development could easily fill a library at this point. But even with all the voices in the mix, there are misunderstandings as theory meets reality. Determining the purpose and benefits coaching and monitoring is a perfect example of this issue.
When it comes to the subjects of coaching and mentoring, the majority of the confusion is due to experts approaching them incorrectly. Each practice can be invaluable, but they are often pitted against each other as if they are mutually exclusive.
You’re not choosing to buy a Mac or a PC, here. So let’s stop seeing this discussion as a debate about who’s good and who’s not, and instead focus on how to coordinate both services so that they complement each other to empower the individual.
When you are looking for structure, intellectual education, and theory, look to a coach. Essentially, coaches exist to empower the unique strengths of their client.
Coaches will work with their client to identify communication styles, leadership strengths, and complimentary behaviors that can then be empowered and amplified to help the client stand out authentically.
Expect probing questions and self-discovery in every session.
Great coaches are trained and certified in evidence-based techniques that help not only pinpoint the strengths of their client but also expedite the process to give the client the more input in less time. That being said, I want to also note that positive changes will only occur if the client is willing to take the input and act upon it.
Sessions with coaches will also be much more discussion-based. The client should expect probing questions and self-discovery in every session. Some coaches will shadow the client through their daily activities while others focus more on the structured closed-door discussions.
Specific attributes to expect from a coach include:
Intellectual approach to professional development
Challenging the individual through probing questions and expanding perspectives
Encouraging and empowering the unique traits and strengths of each individual rather than diminishing weaknesses
Coaches shine in their use of empirical, evidence-based practices, mentors focus on using experience to teach their mentees.
Mentors will use examples from their past to pass on wisdom to those under their mentorship. Lessons learned from successes and failures will act as the curriculum of the mentorship program.
Often the mentor leads their mentee by example, pointing out pitfalls and risks that are not obvious to unweathered. Like privates joining the veterans on the battlefield, the mentor takes the rookie under their wing to teach them the tricks of the trade.
One of the easiest ways they can help increase the likelihood of their mentee’s success is by connecting them to other successful people.
The structure of this experience is much more free-flowing, often occurring in real-time to amplify the lessons learned from each experience. The mentor will rarely set sessions focused on self-discovery.
Instead, a budding executive often uses the mentor as a primary point of reference. The mentor will be able to provide direct market or company knowledge and often explain the subject matter in a way that is more palatable to the mentee, as the verbiage will be directly from their working environment.
Not only is experiential knowledge abundant within a mentorship, another fantastic benefit is taking advantage of the networking opportunities afforded to the mentee. The mentor often becomes attached to their mentee, truly wanting to see them succeed.
One of the easiest ways they can help increase the likelihood of their mentee’s success is by connecting them with other successful people. This is one of the greatest tools in the mentor’s arsenal.
Specific attributes of a mentorship experience include:
Experiential knowledge and teaching styles
Direct market knowledge
A fantastic reference point to improve in-field productivity
Providing connections and networking opportunities
Mentors will emphasize experiential education while some coaches will approach the client with more structure. However, if you approach coaching and mentorship with clear expectations of each practice, then every positive outcome can be amplified.
Don’t limit yourself to one or the other when both together provide so many additional opportunities.
We make thousands of decisions in our everyday life. Some larger than others, but all important pieces that make up the outcome of our days. When making business decisions perhaps you take action too quickly and find yourself having to pick up the pieces after a rash decision. Or maybe you overthink the big picture stuff and get stuck in analysis paralysis.
If you find yourself wanting to learn how to improve upon the critical choices you make, take some time and review these tips for how to get yourself into the mindset to make positive and effective decisions.
1. Ask yourself: What’s the point?
I’m not saying you should go full nihilist on your business decisions, but instead take moments before big choices or conversations to ask yourself what motivation is behind your actions.
What are you trying to accomplish in your business? What is the best outcome that could come from your decision? Are you speaking up or pursuing an opportunity because it truly benefits the mission, or is it to make a point to others about yourself?
The more times you challenge yourself to be honest about your motivations, the more mindful you can become about the decisions you ultimately make.
2. Stop worrying about who will be impacted.
If you find yourself avoiding broaching certain topics or making decisions that may negatively impact someone else, then give yourself a break. You will never be able to make everyone happy.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: If you agree with everyone, how can you stand for anything? For you, my tip is to stop worrying about how others will be affected and make the business decisions you know to be right.
There will always be nay-sayers. This is your time to be confident in your abilities.
3. Business decisions have to jive.
The correct answer will not always be perfectly apparent. You will come upon times when you need to make a decision on little to no information.
For those moments, you need to refer back to what you are trying to accomplish. Ask yourself if the choice is in harmony with your overall business purpose. If you’re trying to eat healthy, raw foods, then buying nacho cheese chips doesn’t exactly jive with the healthy persona you’re trying to put out.
Make decisions that make sense and act as examples of your mission.
4. What’s the worst that could happen? Will you survive?
Do you have a big decision to make? Can’t get yourself over the scenes of Armageddon in your mind if you mess this up? Take a minute, take a breath, and then honestly ask yourself: What’s the absolute worst that could happen? Okay, you got the scenario in your mind? Now ask yourself this next question:
Are you still alive in this scenario?
You see, we get ourselves so stuck thinking about what could go wrong, that we don’t think about what could actually go wrong. When you take the time to articulate the logical and possible outcomes of a negative situation, you often find that even the worst outcome is something that you will survive.
So take the step and learn from the outcomes. You’ll most likely be around to teach someone else from your experiences.
Decisions are only markers on a roadmap. Without them, you will never know where you are on your journey.
I read somewhere that people who regularly run marathons take very seriously the weight of their shoes. Whatever way that they could reduce every ounce of material without losing the integrity and support of the shoe, they would do it.
But why? What does an ounce matter to the powerful muscles in a runner’s legs? If I can’t tell the difference between an 11oz shoe and a 10oz shoe when I hold them side-by-side, then how will it matter to my legs?
It’s pretty simple, really. You lift the shoe once, it’s nothing. But what about a thousand times? In an average marathon, a runner takes about 46,000 steps.
The reason behind it actually makes perfect sense and is a great example of how the smallest things can make the biggest differences.
It makes sense if you think about it, too.
At the beginning, you may not notice a difference in your stamina. Every step is the same to you, as you run yet another marathon. However, by the end of the race, you find yourself lagging behind. Every step is a little bit harder until you are so depleted that, with all of your might, that once simple step is impossible.
The Shoes of Anxiety
Anxiety is like a runner’s shoe. In order to run a marathon, our feet need proper support. Similarly, to dig in and meet a tight deadline, or perfect a project, we need some anxiety to support and motivate us. Anxiety, in healthy moderation, is one of the reasons we are able to accomplish as much as do. Without anxiety, without a sense of urgency, nothing would get done!
However, there is a difference between anxiety and stress. In our analogy of the runner’s shoe, the weight of the shoe represents stress. Every individual stressor in our lives acts as an additional ounce built into the shoes of anxiety.
For certain exercises, extra weight is necessary to ground us. But in a marathon – in a career – the least amount of unnecessary stressors we have, the farther and longer we can run.
Dropping The Weight
How do we remove unnecessary stressors from our daily lives? Where do we even start?
There are many books worth of information in those questions, so I will just touch on the basics. Just know that it is possible to live a life of reduced stress and a healthy level of anxiety.
1. Break It Down
First and foremost, you want to take a look at your daily tasks. You will have a mixture of one-offs (tasks that need attention once and then are complete) and routine (tasks that need to be repeated or maintained on a regular basis) tasks. Separate your tasks into these two categories.
Next, take those separated tasks and separate them into two more categories Urgent and Non-urgent. Usually, urgent tasks are needing to be accomplished that day or within the week. It depends on the responsibilities of your job. Non-urgent tasks are due in a week or beyond.
By breaking your tasks down and separating them, you will be able to prioritize your time much more effectively. , practice identifying future tasks as they come up so that
Keep a cheat-sheet for the first months as you put this practice into effect. Practice identifying future tasks as they come up so that you are able to quickly identify the priority of the task and file it accordingly. Less clutter in your to-do list means less clutter in your mind!
2. Stay On Task
I can’t count how many time’s I’m in the office working on a project due that week when I get an e-mail with a question from another client. I know that the question can wait a day, but still, I stop what I’m doing and spend 15 minutes answering the question. By the time I’m done with the client, I’ve lost both my place in my project and the momentum I built up.
By the time I’m done with the client, I’ve lost both my place in my project and the momentum I built up. Not good.
Instead, keep yourself moving however you can. If you need to turn off your E-mails for an hour to hammer out a presentation for tomorrow, then do it. They can wait an hour to get your answer.
*Side note, I have also found it helpful to put in my voicemail, when possible, the expected “up to” wait for a return call from me. If your job allows up to 48-hours before clients should expect a callback, then put that in your voicemail! It will act as support for you to give yourself time and give your clients a timeframe for when they can expect to hear from you.
I can’t count how many times I hear stories of people overwhelmed by their jobs, only to find that they are doing things that are other people’s responsibility.
It’s easy to slip into this practice. In fact, most of us do it without even knowing. We are working on a job when a client calls with a question. You know the task is better done by someone else who works with the client, but you know how to get the job done, too. So, instead of directing the client to the right person, you just take care of it.
Was that nice of you? Sure! But how long did that task take? 15 minutes? That time could have been spent getting your actual responsibilities done. That’s 15 minutes of stress you needlessly added to your day.
“But, I showed initiative by doing the job! I helped that other guy, whose actual responsibility it was, out!”
Sure, I get that. But take a second and ask yourself this question:
If you were looking for an electrician, would you want carpenter who knows a little bit about wiring to rewire your house? Of course not.
In the same way, if you go outside of your wheelhouse on a task that can and should be done by someone who holds that responsibility, you are actually doing a disservice to the client by not giving them the best product they could get.
So, if just “I don’t want added stress” isn’t enough of a reason not to do unnecessary work, check to see if someone else is better equipped to get the job done. Then, tell the client to call them.
4. Review Your Happiness
Finally, and a more introspective note, you need to take a hard look at your happiness at your job.
A massive stressor in our careers is a fundamental lack of fulfillment in the nature of what we do. If you are fighting upriver to do a job you hate, then you’ll be drowning in stress in no time. This is why it’s important to evaluate how much pleasure you get from your career. A lack of fulfillment in your work is an indication that a shift might need to happen.
It can be scary asking yourself if you’re truly happy with your career. It’s hard to broach that subject. However, if you take anything from this article, this is the most important. Make sure you love what you do.
Make sure you find purpose in your efforts. Otherwise, what is the point in working at all?
Money? You can make that doing anything.
You need purpose. You need fulfillment.
Take care of yourself during this marathon. Take the unnecessary weight out of your shoes and push on. Always be mindful of your happiness, and don’t do anything unnecessarily that should be done by someone else.
Only you can set your own boundaries. And you only need your own permission to make others respect them.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or questions, then please leave them in the comments section below!