It’s enough to drive you nuts…
I’ve been thinking a lot about vision and goals lately. As the incoming president of my business networking chapter, I’ve been meeting with the outgoing leaders, my leadership team, our regional leadership, and other strong leaders and leadership coaches within the organization, as well as talking with other leaders (not to mention the guidance and advice available from so many in books and online….). I keep pulling back, looking for simplicity and clarity….an awareness of the possible while casting my thoughts wider to “Why?” and larger destinations and possibilities.
The idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals is pretty well known. As a review, S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- Specific – Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you’re going to do.
- Measurable – Goals should be measurable. In this way you have tangible evidence that you’ve accomplished them. These can include the Big Goal measurement as well as measured milestones.
- Achievable – Goals should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve them.
- Results-focused (or Relevant) – Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.
- Time-bound – Goals should be linked to a time-frame of some kind that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the desired end-state. Keep in mind the Achievable aspect of the goal when setting the time-frame, of course.
Vision is a different kind of animal. Very different. Setting a goal for monthly sales or post engagement on Facebook for the quarter is not a vision. When building goals we tend to look at the recent past as a starting point and build on that (or, if starting something new, look at a similar process, product or business, try to extrapolate an “oranges to tangerines” comparison…not exact, but close enough…). Creating an effective vision means freeing myself from my existing reality and think broadly of possibilities and destinations. This is not “pie-in-the-sky” dreaming, but a deep look at an ideal future. Several writers I have come across lately use Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “I Have A Dream” speech as an example of visionary leadership. While his goals within that speech included a number of the steps that would be needed to make headway toward the vision, the vision was So Much Bigger. He described exactly what the American scene would look like when the full impact of his goals were felt and implemented. One famous section is:
“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
In your mind’s eye you can see what that looks like! It is so much more grand that the end points of a number of goals.
Goals may be ambitious by themselves. A big one mentioned by another writer was when President John F. Kennedy committed the country to placing a man on the moon and returning him by the end of the 1960s. Huge Goal! But what came after? Other than getting there and back again, what else was there? Hence the problem of coming up with a compelling vision for further space travel and exploration (although a number of futurists, respected scientists and writers try). There is, at present, no strong, heart-stirring vision for exploration and travel that we can, as a society, turn to and say, “That’s it! Let’s go!”
Apply this exercise to your business. When you sat down and created your business plan, you undoubtedly created goals, milestones, and outlined some measurable processes to reach those goals. But, speaking to your vision, why are you actually in business? What does your community, your industry, your world look like as a result of you having created this business, provided what you provide to your customers, and spent so much time and so many resources on its success?
Is your vision a “shining city on a hill”? You can make it so.
I recently attended a half day of training focused on the roles and nuances within the business networking group I belong to. While extremely enlightening and really useful as I work to get a grip on my new role as president in my chapter, I’m struck afresh by the spectrum of differences that we each have as humans. In the case of the discussions I had, they focused on personality types and learning styles as they pertain to the other members of the group. Extend those classifications to digital marketing, especially as an entrepreneur, and you can begin to feel overwhelmed. It’s one thing to write, say, a message for an email campaign in four different ways to accommodate four personality types, but take the personalization further to learning styles, cultural and generational differences, best channel for communication, etc. and you just might feel that going back to a broadcast “one-size-fits-all” style is just easier, and it used to work OK, so just go for it. Or maybe walking around wearing a sandwich board!
You’re always looking for quality shortcuts. Anyway and anything that can help you make a good decision (I don’t Need help making bad decisions…). The Internet has taught us all very well:
- 80% of consumers search for a product or service online before purchasing it.
- 70% read online reviews before making purchase decisions.
- 68% of consumers begin their decision-making while searching for a keyword.
Like you, I have a hard time balancing “all the stuff I need to do” as an entrepreneur with things like spending time with my family, detaching from the Internet and screens, and nurturing a creative hobby that doesn’t entail playing Civilization for an afternoon. One of my halfway measures is I take a little time on the weekend to catch up on my reading: I’m three weeks behind on my stack of The Economist, I want to make headway on at least a couple of the books I have going on my Kindle that DON’T have to do with social media, business, or consulting, and catch-up on the handful of truly magnetic posts from my favorite bloggers.
I belong to a few business and networking groups, as well as a service organization. Only at one of them do I have the luxury of spending time with the members (about 25) on a weekly basis and the ongoing encouragement to get together with a couple of them every week to really get to know them, their businesses and their lives. I am able to connect and as a result I feel almost as invested in their work as they are (I’m still working on birthdays and favorite foods, but, hey, we’ll get there!). I am fans of them and their work and actively seek out ways to promote and assist each one, if I can.
A result of my recent annual physical was getting a referral from my doctor for 4 weeks of physical therapy to help deal with a long-standing issue I have with shoulder and neck pain that links to severe headaches. I just finished up this course of therapy and am likely going to be getting some more, since it is helping a lot.