Does it feel to you like we’re past that already, now that we’re nearing the end of January?
I love celebrations. So I’m inclined to make the most of them, extend them as long as I can.
And new beginnings are a great opportunity to celebrate. They feel like an adventure into unexplored territory.
When I was younger, going to a new school, beginning new relationships or jobs, or moving to a new place was an invitation to reinvent myself into more of the person I really wanted to be. I could enter new situations with none of the baggage of old stories about who and how I was.
These days I have a more balanced perspective. While still relishing the adventure and shimmer of new opportunity, I have a deep appreciation for long-term relationships, a recognition that some of those old stories are actually consistent themes, and a contentment in continuing to develop what already exists.
This month, like many Januarys before this, I am indulging in some degree of ritual to celebrate this new beginning. New Year’s resolutions have never worked well for me. But I do believe in investing some time and consideration into being a better version of ourselves so that we can have a better impact on the people and the world around us.
My hope is that we enter 2019 embodying a child-like wonder and curiosity about the untapped potential and yet-unknown opportunities ahead while continuing on the existing paths that fill our hearts and souls…at home, at work, and in our communities.
In last month’s email, we explored going beyond resilience; this month, let's go beyond resolutions into the magic and method of living into the coming year!
Your fellow adventurer,
BEYOND RESOLUTIONS - INTO MAGIC AND METHOD
What do you think about magic?
My daughter, Nichole, has a business through which she helps entrepreneurs find freedom and fulfillment by building brands, not just businesses.
As I write this mail to you, I have just returned from Quintana Roo, Mexico where I served as one of the facilitators and coaches for a week-long retreat she offers for a select group of her clients. The title is the Magic Maker Retreat, so I have magic on my mind, as well as planning and goal setting, which is the focus of the retreat. And, yes, well, perhaps margaritas, a white sandy beach, and sunshine…
Feel free to dwell on the Caribbean beach images floating through your mind while I talk a bit about the planning part…
Image credit: Sherryl T. Christie
Over the years, I have achieved less-than-satisfying results with traditional planning and goal setting processes. More ethereal or spiritual approaches have also not manifested in ways with which I’m completely happy.
I’ve also had the benefit of walking with many of our clients as they go through a variety of strategic and other planning processes in their organizations.
This combination of experiences has evolved into a set of both/and practices that combine the best of both worlds--sort of a head/heart or ‘left brain/right brain’ approach. Both emergent and grounded…magical and methodical.
Image credit: www.jnicholesmith.com
The magic starts with creating the space to imagine…a space to explore a variety of possibilities and directions in order to create a vision of the desired end state.
It is both the physical space (might I recommend a particular villa in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico?) as well as the time space. The process requires time to step in and step out of the thinking and imagining, to do other things, to sleep on it, and come back to it. It’s iterative. And it is fun, freeing.
This is not the ‘sit in a conference room and brainstorm’ kind of exploration. It is playful and expansive. It requires a place that is nurturing and connected to nature. And, as a result, the vision emerges full-bodied…with color and imagery, sounds and scents.
And the vision is grounded in values--yours and the organization’s.
Values define what is truly most important. You know they are most important because you actually live them. You see them show up in how you spend your time and money.
I totally agree with Brené Brown, in Dare to Lead, when she emphasizes that fewer key values are better than more. Like three, not seven or 10. You and your team have to be able to remember them, and use them to guide your daily decisions.
The approach is magical in that it allows for what we do not yet see or know. It is rooted in the things that really matter, and a robust vision of the future, so it invites freedom to move and respond in flow with opportunities that may arise and changes that may occur in the environment.
Image credit: Stephen Dawson
That brings us to the method.
Assuming you have done the work above, David Thoreau’s quote is appropriate here.
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
Putting foundations under your vision involves looking at data to make decisions. And there is often loads of data, likely more than you need. In light of where you want to go, chose the vital few measures to best assess your current state, within an historical perspective.
Then, of course, using the data and the assumptions you make in interpreting it, you set specific and measurable targets. This is the stuff of traditional planning and you may be doing it quite well already.
A nuance I learned from one of my clients is to set two different targets based on your level of confidence in achieving them.
For example, he would ask his Directors to create a budget that they were ~90% confident they could achieve and one that they were ~60% confident they could achieve, the stretch budget. He would ask them to make the riskier budget their primary objective, and drive hard toward it. The second budget, the 'back-up' budget,' made it possible for the teams to fully invest themselves in experiments to streamline their processes or try new methods with far less risk.
His goal was to foster innovative thinking and creativity in all aspects of the business by seeing the stretch goals as appealing challenges rather than top-down requirements that put inordinate stress on them and their teams. A little bit of magic in the method, perhaps!?
May your attention to the marriage of method and magic enable you to experience deeper engagement, exceed your business goals, and take you to new places of joy and service to the greater good!
As you consider the people in your life, who do you know that has beginning-of-the-year practices that they find both enjoyable and useful? What do they do?
If you were to make one change to your planning process to better integrate and balance method and magic, what would it be? And what would you hope to gain as a result?
What might you do to keep yourself and others engaged in and excited about continuing to leverage your (strategic) plan as a living and vibrant document throughout the year?