Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year? Or maybe you strategically set goals for your company to achieve. Surprisingly, most people and most organizations do not actually set their strategic intentions at the beginning of the year. When they do, they often are simple statements like “I’m going to get in shape” or “We want to grow our business.”
These are great ideas, but they aren’t very well-articulated goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? Other than tremendous luck or good fortune, you aren’t likely to achieve your true potential without setting very clear and specific goals. That’s why we always say that identifying your “lighthouse” is absolutely essential to achieving your personal and professional objectives.
Being committed to one’s own success can deliver powerful results. That’s because our intentions serve as guardrails to keep us focused on our ideal outcomes. Intentions also drive our near-term actions and keep us moving – one foot in front of the other, one day at a time – even during these challenging and uncertain times. Without well-defined lighthouse goals and a crystal-clear Vision for what matters most to us, we can easily be distracted by new opportunities that take us off course. We can also run out of energy without the clarity to keep pushing on.
Not a day goes by that I don’t talk to a colleague or coach a client who feels a bit lost right now. Revenues are down. Customers are temporarily suspending operations due to these COVID conditions. Virtual leaders and remote team members are struggling to stay focused and be productive without that social connection and collaborative mood from being together at work.
Having clear intentions enables us to be present to what matters most and keep moving forward when less resilient and less focused leaders might otherwise get stuck. Clear intentions are especially important this year as many who did set goals early on have already dismissed them as a result of what they have experienced recently. If you’re struggling to get out of bed each morning and find your focus during these challenging and uncertain times, consider the following strategies for success.
- Practice mindfulness and being present. Acknowledge the here and now instead of getting wrapped up in what has already happened in the past or focusing too much on future conditions and concerns that don’t yet exist.
- Take extreme ownership for your individual actions and how you choose to manage through these difficult times. Don’t blame others for what they’re doing or the world around you for the situation we are in. Just focus on what’s within your control and take small steps forward each and every day.
- Consider those little changes that can make a world of difference! Start small by leveraging your core strengths as an organization and reinvent your company as needed in line with these new conditions, what your customers need most right now, and perhaps what’s possible if you take a step back to consider the broader market opportunities.
- Drive accountability towards positive results with your teams by setting near-term micro-goals aligned to your longer-term lighthouse and monitoring your progress towards achieving these strategic intentions.
- Recognize when you may need help from others to achieve your intentions and be vulnerable in asking for that help. That’s the key! It’s not about doing it on our own. It’s about finding strength in others as we honor our commitments for the future.
As an example, we’ve been focused on reinventing our firm and continuing to grow our newer Family Legacy 1st division this past year. Last year, I actually set an intention to become sought after as a family business advisor. Not just to be a good or trusted advisor for my existing family business clients, but truly sought after as an expert in the field. We were making steady progress towards that lighthouse, but I had to reprioritize it as a result of the early COVID conditions with families needing to stay safe at home. Rather than getting depressed or stressed about that, I simply pivoted back to our core strength in executive coaching and developed new resources around virtual leadership and remote work that I knew people needed. As many families are now starting to refocus on their futures, this family intention is front and center again, and I’m seeing tremendous progress with additional publishing and speaking opportunities, new client engagements, and invitations to join family Boards.
The work in progress on our Family Legacy 1st service offering has seemingly become an overnight success! These accomplishments, however, only come with a lot of sweat equity and perseverance. It takes great resilience and grit along with true leadership to manage the setbacks we often experience along the way. Grit is not something we are born with though. It’s something we can develop over time if we remain committed to and persistent about those things we are truly passionate about.
To achieve our ideal futures, we also need to use both leading and lagging indicators of success. A leading indicator, for example, would be the number of new families I speak with about their current situations each week. A lagging indicator could be counting how many family business clients committed to new engagements last month. For both leading and lagging indicators, it’s critical to keep track of the results we produce so we can always see if we are achieving our desired outcomes. We don’t want to wait for our year-end numbers to determine that.
In closing, remember to take the timeouts to enjoy your life too! Find that one thing that brings a smile to your face and joy to your life. Is it running by yourself? Hiking in the outdoors with a partner or friend? Maybe you enjoy spending hours in the kitchen cooking that great meal. Assuming you are like most of the business leaders we work with, you are experiencing first-world problems. You’re still paying your mortgage and putting food on your plate. If you don’t celebrate your successes and find time to escape the pressure you may otherwise be feeling, you’ll likely lose focus and lose the energy to push on.
So, what are your intentions for the rest of 2020? Are you ready to achieve your true potential? Give me a call at 310.589.4612 or email me directly for some thoughts on how best to set some powerful intentions for yourself or your organization and produce breakthrough results even in these uncertain times. Or visit the Executive Coaching page of our website for more on how we regularly enable business owners and executive leaders to address their greatest leadership and organizational challenges. You might also want to watch the highlights of a recent webcast entitled “Resilient Leadership in the Face of Setbacks & Uncertainty” if you’re struggling to stay focused right now.