Lead a vivid life that does good

Tag: Strategy

The worlds most powerful question

If you're saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?As arrogant as it sounds, if you ask me for help, I’ll most likely say No. I often don’t even give a reason it’s just, No.

But it’s a great cause… No.

You’re the only one who can help… (the only one, really?) … No.

Last time you helped … I did.  Sorry, No.

Over the years here is a question I constantly forget to ask, which is possibly the world’s most powerful personal, professional and strategic question.

If I say Yes to this, what am I saying no to?

From strategy and goals at one extreme, to temptation and love at the other, it’s a question that helps you pause and consider the consequence of a Yes or No.

No to this … so I can stay true to what’s important.

Yes to this … knowing full well I won’t have time for that other thing.

I love action. I love being involved. I love personal growth. I love leading. I love the organisations we’re building. I love the people I work with. I love my family.

I need to say ‘Yes’ to these things, which means ‘No’ to a lot of cool and exciting things that stop me being the leader I’m created to be.

So my question for you is …

If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?


[Footnote] In case this post stops you asking me. I also say ‘Yes’ often.

3 ways to stay focused on your goals

FocusA number of years ago Bill Gates’ mother held a dinner party and invited both Warren Buffet (super rich guy) and Bill along. At the dinner party she ask what they believed was the single most important factor for their success. Both Bill and Warren gave the same one-word answer: “Focus.”

Focus is one of those annoying words that continually collides with my life. Historically I would not regard myself as a particularly focused person, but slowly over the years I have been improving. As I have improved I have realised that FOCUS requires constant, well focus, on three areas:

1. Turning Goals into Priorities

In order to be focused you must know what you are focused on. The word after all means “the centre of interest or activity.” Without having goals, both in business and personally, you won’t have interests or activity to centre yourself on.

But just as important as having goals, is reviewing them very frequently and setting actions. For me this involves a weekly review of my goals and strategies to set the course for the week, then almost daily reviewing these and setting actions for my day ahead.

Simply said. To focus you must have goals and resolve to take action daily.

2. Be in the Right Space

Now that you have your priorities you need to have a work-space where you can actually get on and do the work without too much interruption. As your all know, not all work spaces are the same. Some of us have our own office and others work in open plan.

The key thing to remember is that different focus, requires different spaces. Sometimes I need to work in my office as I need the tools there to do the work. Other times I can sit with my laptop in a café. Other times I go on a walk with a piece of folded up paper and a pen (so I can leave my phone behind). Depending what you are focusing on determines the space you should be in.

Once in the right space and ready to focus, it’s important to eliminate as many distractions as possible. This mainly involves communicating with the team around you that you are focusing a major goal for a period of time.

3. De-clutter ALL Distractions

I was reading yesterday that the average Facebook user in New Zealand checks Facebook 14 times a day. Social media is great for connection with people, but for most of us it distracts us from their goals. Similarly in our work-spaces there are distractions everywhere, so it is little wonder we struggle to focus. As I’ve become more focused I have had to take some pretty radical steps and a few of these are below:

  • Implement GTD (Getting Things Done). It’s a book. Buy it. Implement it.
  • Have a tidy work-space and try to only have the work in front of you, that you are focusing on. This stops distractions.
  • Turn off every type of email notifications on every device. My focus doesn’t last long, the last thing I need when a new email arrives is an excuse for my brain to get distracted.
  • Turn off notifications on your phone. All of them at first, then bring the critical ones back in. Social Media are unlikely to be the ones you turn back on. While you are at it, delete the most distracting apps from your phone.
  • Relentlessly remove yourself from email lists. The goal of an email is to distract you and get you to check in on their website. Our goal is to not be distracted and to have as much focused time as possible.

Distraction is everywhere which makes focus incredibly hard. If focus is important, you need to radically reduce the distraction. You can still clear Facebook, or check out websites. Just not when they prompt you and not when you are focused.

Becoming more focused is a constant struggle for me. I get constantly distracted and interrupted and I take on too much. All distraction comes at the expense of the goals I think are really important for me.

That said, the more I focus, the more I appreciate the value of focus and the more determined I become on my quest for more.

I’d love to hear if you have tips for becoming more focused, so comment and let me know what you think.

Are you heading for a dead-end?

SignNot far from where I live is this sign. It’s a weird sign because it curves to the right with a big arrow showing that the main road heads that way, and off to the left is a little side road.

I know it is only a warning sign; however the interesting thing about the sign is that the main road, the big arrow, if you were to keep following it, actually ends up at a dead-end. Off to the left, is the best way to exit.

I thought about how funny that is, and how often our decisions are like that sign. We follow the big road because it’s the easy path, without realising that it may end up at a dead-end. We get so fixated on following that path that we miss the opportunity to take the exit and try a new path, one with all the uncertainty that leads us someplace new.

And so we stay on the beaten track, and hope beyond hope that it won’t be disrupted.

We know though, that great leaders are defined by great decisions.

And great decision-making is generally not a massive fork in the road where it’s a choice of one or the other. Rather, it’s a series of small decisions to venture off and try something new.

Something courageous.

Something that changes the course of your life, or business, for the better.

What decisions are you not making at the moment?

What paths are you following purely because you haven’t stop to review your options?

Is it possible that you’re heading for a dead-end?

Maybe today, it’s time to take the lead and head off somewhere new.

What do Vision and Mission really mean?

Vision, Mission, and Strategy. Typing these three terms independently in to google returns over 1.5 billion hits. Even as a group of words over 20 million hits are listed. Little surprise that the observations of what these words represent is as varied as opinions on life itself.

Most experts say you must have Vision and Mission statements. If your people don't know where they are heading they will get lost. It's difficult to disagree, unless you have read vision and mission statements for companies and then talked to the people on the ground to see what really happens.

So I thought, just to add to the confusion, I would give my inference on Vision and Mission, to which I am sure many people will disagree.

FIRSTLY – Whatever you do it must be relevant!

Vision – Is timeless, it is what you want to be, and what you are. For agóge it drives what we want to be in 10, 50, 100 years time. "We will live people matter…" is a philosophy rather than a goal.

Mission – Is timebound and specific. It is what you want to do and achieve now. Mission is a fighting term in my mind, this is where we are taking the battle. It is a broad goal that changes as the business grows and adapts.

Strategy – Is the translation of the Mission into specific actions and goals. It is the determining of what you will do when and how to fulfill your Mission and Vision.

So why do I put all this down in this post? Well because this week is a focus week for me, a week in which I base myself away from the office to read, think, reflect and review how things are going. Not just work, but people, and me. As I have engaged the brain this week, I am really happy with our Vision and Values, but I think our Mission and Strategy is very much lacking.

Is the agóge mission clear and the strategy compelling? I think not.