Knowing why we are doing something is inarguably important. Being able to define what one successfully looks like is fundamental and critical. This is particularly true when we are the ones that are guiding development of the deliverable, and there is a creative component to what needs to be produced. While we would like to say that we know what successful completion looks like, there are many factors that can create roadblocks for us. Most of which exist in our own perceptions.
“Why?” is undeniably a powerful question. But we often think about our why in grandiose, abstract terms. We tend to emphasize the philosophical rather than the practical. And yet, at its core, “Why?” is the most practical question that you can ask. And the one you always need to be prepared to answer. Don’t tell people what to do, or how to do it. Instead, get them excited about the why, the way it makes a difference, no matter how prosaic and simple the task at hand might be.
We’re often pretty sure that we understand what values are. Defining them clearly and compellingly, though, is an entirely different matter. Values aren’t about defining the lowest common denominator of what is important. They get at the very heart of who we are, and particularly how we operate, decide and interact. Getting them right is critical; it also takes a great deal of work.
Pick a strategic plan. Any strategic plan. Read the mission statement, and ask what it tells you about what makes the organization it belongs to unique. All too often, the answer to that is “not much.” Rather than being defining statements of purpose, mission statements are often vague, generalized and designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Where we have been is in the past. We can explore it, but we can’t change it. Where we are is shaped by how we perceive current circumstances, and how we make sense of who we are and what flexibility and opportunity we have to shape our own destiny. Where we are going is a product of what we care about and value. And all of that depends on how we interpret our internal dialogue, and how we shape the messages that matter most.
I read an enormous amount. But I have not, in recent years, read for the same purpose, with the same frequency or with the same degree of pleasure as I have in my past. I’ve resolved to do something about that. My exploration and rethinking of how, what, when and why I read.