Where is Your Crystal Ball?
An AWESOME Morning Exercise!
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1. Name Change
I have changed the name of the newsletter to The Weiman Leadership Letter. It better reflects what the newsletter is about.
2. Where is Your Crystal Ball?
(See into your company’s future by learning the goals of key staff.)
One of the most critical leadership activities is planning for the future.
It’s a high leverage activity. If you’re a Stephen Covey 7 Habits fan, this falls under Quadrant 2: Important but Not Urgent.
Since all business involves people, it’s important to learn as much as you can about what the individual plan is of every key person in your organization.
But, if you’re like most leaders, you probably haven’t talked much or at all with key players about their plans for the future.
When you don’t know the plans of key people, it exposes you to surprises, can interrupt operations, might change your succession plans (if you have them) and result in several other nasty things.
Here’s how to learn more about what each of your key staff have in mind for his or her future:
- Establish or grow a culture where it’s okay for staff to share their future plans. Encourage these discussions as a way of learning more about each person. Make it okay to discuss what they want, even if, at some point in the future, they don’t want to work for you anymore.Establishing the kind of trusting environment where people can share their dreams for the future without fear of retaliation is critical. (And don’t break that trust. Because if you do … well, just don’t.)
- If their plan is to grow their career with you, assess how each person’s future plans can contribute to your own strategic goals for your company. Carefully consider what they see in the future, and how their goals contribute to yours. For example, if a sales director wants to grow an area of the company you haven’t targeted for expansion, consider adjusting your plan to make it possible. You’ll tap into their enthusiasm and stimulate growth at the same time. (Your strategic plan shouldn’t be so strict that you cut off discussions in areas the plan didn’t anticipate. )
- If their plan is to grow their career somewhere else, plan the transition together. When you know in advance someone’s plan to grow their career somewhere else, you can work together to ensure their successor will be well-trained and carefully groomed into the new role. (Don’t keep major transitions a secret, or employees will start to question what else you know but not saying.)
When you cultivate an environment where people feel free to talk about the future — including leaving your firm — transitions happen much more smoothly, and cost-efficiently. And that goodwill spreads so that you learn more and more about what people think. It’s money in the bank.
Encourage your senior staff to talk about their future plans. Also, encourage them to talk with their staffs to learn as much as they can about what each direct report has planned for the future.
Mutual goal-setting is a crystal ball with the future clearly in view.
3. An AWESOME Morning Exercise! (Part Deux.)
For the last few years, I have done an exercise every morning that helps prepare me to have an outstanding, productive, and happy day.
I wrote about the first part in the last newsletter, included below so that when I explain the second of the three parts, it will make sense.
(If you didn’t read the last issue of this newsletter, you missed some mind-blowing stuff, so visit the newsletter section of my website and look at the May issue to see what you missed!)
It’s not a physical exercise (I do a physical workout a few times a week!), it is a mental exercise. And I want to share it with you because it is a high leverage activity and takes little time.
The exercise has three sections. Each section takes about five minutes.As those of you who know me understand, I believe strongly in creating in our minds first what we wish to achieve in the real world.
I am also a person who believes in gratitude. So, the first activity of my day, and the first section of my morning exercise, is to be mindful and express gratitude for everything wonderful in my life.
When the alarm goes off in the morning, I get out of bed, and as I walk to the kitchen I began expressing gratitude, in my mind, for everything I have. I begin with how grateful I am that I’m alive, that I have a place to live, that I can do pretty much whatever I would like, and for the personal values that I possess.
Next, I express gratitude for all of the amazing people in my life, beginning with those who are closest to me: My family. I get an image of my mind of every family member and express gratitude for that person.
I then express gratitude in my mind for my closest friends. Finally, and to conclude the exercise, I express gratitude for the fact that I have a job that gives me the opportunity to serve others.
Starting your day with an “attitude of gratitude” puts you in a positive state of mind. It is impossible, I assure you, to begin the day in a bad mood or with a feeling of sadness or worry when you have just taken inventory of all the things you are thankful for.
THE SECOND STEP. The second thing I do is to visualize myself about 10 years from now living my ideal life. I think about where I want to be in the following areas:
- Financial/Business. What kind of financial life will I ideally have? How much money in the bank? How much revenue coming in from the business? How much socked away (I never understood that term) for retirement? I get a clear idea in mind of how much wealth I will ideally have in 10 years. I also think about the kind of company I would like to be running 10 years from now, even envisioning what the office will look like, where it will be, and as many other specifics as easily come to mind.
- Relationships. What will my relationships be like? Who will be living with me? What will my relationships be like my family and friends? I envision the people closest to me as clearly as I can, thinking about what our relationship will be like 10 years from now.
- Health/Leisure. I envision the kind of healthy lifestyle I will have in 10 years. Will I be trim? Will I exercise regularly? What will I enjoy doing? I literally imagine myself in a state of excellent health, being active — riding my bike or jogging on the boardwalk at sunrise — I see myself as clearly as I can enjoying an active lifestyle, and I see it all 10 years from now.
- “Things.” I think about the things I’d like to have 10 years from now. Not in a materialistic way, but in terms of what I see surrounding me in the future. Ideally, what will my home be like? (I’m a person who prefers modest living.) What will my car be like? (I’m a person who prefers a modest car!) Will I have the shore home I’ve been dreaming about? In my 10 year vision, the things I’d enjoy are all there.
When I do this exercise, the FEELING I get from it is energizing. After seeing those things so clearly in my mind, I look forward to having that life.
In my own thinking, it is essential to have an idea of where you want to be in the future. Does it need to be 10 years from now? Not necessarily. Depending on where you are in life, it might make sense to think about your ideal life 5 years from now. Or it might make sense to think about where you’d like to be in 20 years.
I don’t know what time horizon makes the most sense for you. But if it will help you pick a future time you’d like to envision, think of the future as a movie in your mind, and just keep fast forwarding until you feel comfortable that it’s far enough away to be motivating, but not so far away that you don’t recognize yourself as the main character anymore.
At this point in my morning exercise, I’ve spent 5 minutes on the first part, and 5 minutes on the second part.
In the next newsletter, I’ll explain what I do in the last 5 minutes of the exercise. A part that finishes setting the table for having an outstanding, productive and dynamite day!
4. Want to Read a Back Issue?
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