What’s Your Vision?

What’s Your Vision?

Do you have a vision for your business?

A vision is a long-term view of the future which conveys the purpose and set’s the direction of the business.

It includes the core values (beliefs that are shared by everyone involved) of the business, which drives the culture, and it provides a framework within which decisions are made.

Most importantly a vision inspires and motivates the people in the business to take action!

I have been working with visioning for a number of years and the power of it never ceases to amaze me.

It enabled me to grow my first small business back in 2007, a time when I knew only a little about building a business and it played a huge part in the success of the Business Network I was involved in developing nationally, between 2007 and 2011.

So, why does a vision play such a key part in creating business success?

Well, quite simply because having a vision means that you ’start with the end in mind’, and in this context, the ‘end’ represents the destination to which the business is moving.

In my experience working with businesses, those with a vision have more direction than those without which means that they have more focus.  As a result, they are more likely to set goals and to create a plan of action to achieve them.  Most importantly, their activity becomes aligned with their goals and they are therefore more effective at producing results.

Some of the clients I’ve worked with this year have been visibly frustrated with the lack of success in their business.  They’ve described their busy diary and immense activity, but fundamentally they’ve told me that they didn’t feel they were “getting anywhere”.

I asked one client “Where specifically do you want to be getting?”  She couldn’t answer me, and when we drilled down, it became clear that she didn’t have a vision for her business.

The truth is, I didn’t embark on my business journey with a completely defined vision either.  But what I did have was clarity on my core values and a sense of purpose.  My goals were therefore aligned with those things and as a result, my activity was activity that was conducive to achieving the things that made both me and the business successful.

So, if you’re reading this and you’re aware that your business lacks vision, don’t be alarmed.  A vision doesn’t need to be perfect in its detail, it simply needs to inspire and motivate you to take the right kind of action.  So, start simple.

Ask yourself these questions:

Q:  What’s important to me and why?
Q:  What excites me about the future and why? 
Q:  What will provide me with fulfilment and why?
Q:  What would I love to achieve and why?

Write down the thoughts that come into your head and then expand on them.  Those things may not seem relevant to your business right now, but trust me, they are very important, because those things are amongst the things that determine your purpose and from there, you can start to build a vision for your business that motivates you (and others) to take action!

So, what’s YOUR Vision?


Disappointment versus Expectation

Disappointment versus Expectation

Have you ever felt disappointed when someone did something you didn’t approve of?!

I was talking to a client last month and he was ranting about a member of his staff who had handled a complaint from an important client “appallingly”. 

As he ranted more about how he was going to fire her, he said over and over again: “Why would she do that?!”

This is a common and understandable response when someone behaves in a way that is in conflict with our own idea of what’s appropriate and as a result (in our opinion) screws it up!

‘Disappointment’ creates feelings of anxiety, frustration, sadness and sometimes anger and our natural physiological reaction to those feelings (raised heart beat/blood pressure) often impede on our ability to respond rationally.

Whilst these sensations are a perfectly normal response to disappointment, the problem ultimately lies in our ‘expectation’ of how the other person ‘should’ have behaved, rather than their actual behaviour.  In other words, it’s our ‘expectation’ that creates the disappointment, not what they did.  Disappointment always points to an unmet expectation and unmet expectations are a common source of stress. 

Expectation itself is very healthy and useful!  It is the act or state of ‘anticipating’ and we certainly would not be successful without it.  Our expectations of other people are often a reminder of our own values and belief systems and again, that can be helpful, but often expectation in this context come’s with the assumption that the other person knows better.

I explained this to my friend and asked him what, if anything he was assuming about her?  What did he perceive her to understand that perhaps she didn’t? 

Interestingly, when he considered the question, he listed 3 or 4 things that she may not understand linked to the issue she had to deal with.  He realised in that moment that actually, she’d not handled it quite so badly.  As his expectation changed, so did the disappointment (coupled with fury!) and he left our conversation with the intention of ensuring that she had the tools she needed to enable her to be more effective next time.

I was reflecting on our conversation later that day and was reminded that we cannot control how other people behave, but, we can control our own reaction when they do not behave as we expect by asking ourselves what we are assuming they understand that perhaps they don’t.  It may be that actually there are no assumptions on our part and that our expectation was entirely appropriate.

My point is that the act of asking the question at least allows us to make that assessment before reacting from a physiological point and potentially screwing things up even further!

I called my client this week to thank him for this timely reminder.

Reach for the Stars!

Reach for the Stars!

On the day when everyone is making New Year resolutions and/or setting goals, I received this text from my mum:

“New year, new intentions: keep your sights high and your feet on the ground”.

As a teenager, I was described by one astrologist as an Idealistic Realist (My birthday falls on the cusp of Virgo and Libra:  Virgo being the Earthy Realist and Libra being the Airy Idealist).  It confused me and resonated with me at the same time!

Back then I was not dissimilar to how I am today:

Fundamentally grounded but with high aspirations. 

I lacked the maturity then to negotiate what felt like a paradox, and in my twenties I found myself achieving stuff I wasn’t passionate about.  I write about some of that stuff in other blogs on this site.

It occurred to me today that this ‘paradox’ is in fact the key to success. 

Idealists exist in the future, buck the trend and aim high whereas Realists exist in the present, follow convention and aim sensibly.  The effectiveness of these different mindsets in the pursuit of success is illustrated best when you consider what happens when you have one without the other:

Idealism without Realism:  Set’s sights high, fails to plan, ignores the human condition of ‘error’ and often meets with failure.

Realism without Idealism:  Accepts things the way they are, favours practical methods of dealing with them and limits potential by aiming for ‘average’.

Idealistic thinking is how create our Vision  

A vision is a destination to move towards and a direction to take as opposed to something to be attained or reached. A big dream is a vision.  Idealistic thinking allows us to use our full imagination to create an inspiring and motivating picture in our imagination (including images, feelings, sounds etc) that represents our vision being achieved.

Realistic thinking is how we set our goals  

A goal is a rung on the success ladder that leads to the vision.  A goal requires actual activity to achieve it.  Realistic thinking allows us to break the objective down and to create a strategy and a plan of action.

So, without an element of Realistic thinking, we remain in fantasy whilst without an element of Idealistic thinking, we remain in limitation:  Clearly, a combination of Idealistic and Realistic thinking is crucial to success!

On the day I was considering my vision and goals for this year, my mum’s text was the best advice I could have received.  It framed my Idealistic Vision as a compass point or a shining star in the sky, the brightest star in the constellation, forever in my sight, acting as a beaming navigator to guide me on my way.  And it framed my Realistic Goals as those upon which my attention and actions are focused right now, dictating my next steps along the path.

Reaching for the Stars whilst keeping my feet firmly on the ground.  Thanks mum!

Do you have Integrity?

Do you have Integrity?

This month, I was witness to someone’s integrity being questioned and it got me thinking about what integrity actually is…

I’d always thought of integrity as being about honesty and adherence to moral and ethical principles.  Actually, integrity is more than that.

Integrity is the condition of ‘wholeness’, where our thoughts, language and behaviour is consistent with the type of person we present ourselves to be.

It got me thinking.

I’ve had bosses in the past who have talked about empowering the team… and then behaved like a control-freak

I’ve known colleagues who claimed to be doing a great job… but who failed to deliver

I’ve had friends who said they were there for me… but who were absent the minute I needed their support

I’ve known people who bang on about the importance of being respectful… but who then failed to behave respectfully to others

These are essentially examples of a lack of integrity, but it may be that none of these people were intentionally dishonest.

The thing that occurred to me is this:  if there are inconsistencies between what we claim to be about and what we actually do, our honesty can be questioned.  But if the inconsistencies are never brought to our awareness, it is human nature to continue in pattern.

So, whilst being witness to this persons integrity being questioned was uncomfortable, it was actually helpful because it brought the specific inconsistency into conscious awareness and enabled them to address it.

Is your behaviour in line with what you claim to be about?

Leadership is in the eye of the beholder…

Leadership is in the eye of the beholder…

This week, during a monthly Success call with one of my team, I asked the question “What defines a leader”.  He answered that leadership is a natural ability that you are either born with or not.

I thought this was very interesting.

It is true that some people appear to be natural leaders, but does that mean that others cannot develop leadership behaviours that others are inspired to follow?

In my view, Leadership is not an ability or a skill that one applies, it’s a mindset and a subsequent way of behaving that people relate to and either adopt or aspire to.

The best leaders I know aren’t actually doing anything, they are simply being, and yet, their actions define how people around them then behave and respond.

So, think about your own behaviour…  Do you inspire people to learn more, to do more and to become more?  Do you inspire people to think differently or to behave differently?  If you do, then you have followers and if you have followers, then you are by definition a leader.

Leadership is in the eye of the beholder…

Life:  A game of Snakes and Ladders

Life: A game of Snakes and Ladders

I’ve had some great comments, both public and private as a result of my ‘Where is your Success Ladder leaning?’ post – thank you to all of you, it’s great to know you’re reading!

I’ve recently taken that same story out on ‘4Sight tour’ at 4Networking breakfast meetings and it’s produced some interesting reactions there too.

90% of the audience at 4N meetings is people in self-employment and many of them have made a similar transition to me from corporate life to running their own businesses.


Where is your ‘Success Ladder’ leaning?

Where is your ‘Success Ladder’ leaning?

LadderRemember ‘Tam with The Plan’ from my earlier blog “Planning only works if the goals are right?”

It was tenacious planning that enabled me to climb the Success Ladder with ease.  It was a steep journey and I kept my focus upwards, continually striving for the next rung, each one representing an achievement:
Status: check, Money: check, Car: check, Recognition: check, Qualification: check, Property: check…


The stronger the bridge, the more it can hold

The stronger the bridge, the more it can hold

If you’re in business, you no doubt understand the importance of networking.

Networking is about developing mutually beneficial relationships and rapport is key to that. Rapport is ‘a relationship of mutual understanding or trust between people’, and when you have rapport with someone, it’s much easier to work out what they need from you. There is also a much better chance of you getting what you need from them.

Think of rapport as a bridge:

The stronger the bridge, the more it can hold. 

Establishing rapport quickly, fast-tracks the building of that bridge which is so important in all aspects of life and business.

So how do you establish rapport quickly?

Well, think of the times when you have ‘clicked’ instantly with someone… here, you have seen the basic principles of rapport in action:

1) We like people who are like us

2) We are only ever truly influenced by people who we believe ‘like’ us.

I spend a fair amount of time networking, but I am also in the business of developing leaders and teams.

Every day, I observe rapport being established at networking minutes over a coffee, breakfast or lunch. I see it in my own relationships with my team and demonstrated through the bridges being built in their dealings with theirs. I also witness potential bridges in ruins, destroyed instantly through a lack of understanding of the basic principles I mentioned earlier.

In future blogs, I will share real-life examples of good and poor rapport, as well as some useful tips to enable you to strengthen the bridge with people in your life quickly and effortlessly.

Remember, the stronger the bridge, the more it can hold…