How do you achieve a sizeable goal, personally or professionally, individually or as a team, despite adversity?
Do you sometimes set out on an ambitious goal for yourself only to give up before you see the finish line?
Do you start on a plan with great enthusiasm only to veer off a little way into it, or stop at the first sign of a roadblock?
How do you keep a diverse team motivated around a shared vision?
What do you do when shift happens?
What would you do if faced with a seemingly impossible roadblock? Some people run and hide. Some get angry and look for somewhere to place blame. Some just shut down in total defeat.
When working with coaching clients, we often work at clarifying their goals, creating a focused plan, and successfully executing that plan. Sometimes the plan needs to be reworked as you find that elements have shifted or as new factors come into play. However, the basic formula is the same:
It all starts here, with a clearly defined vision of what exactly you want to accomplish. You can't erect a building without precise drawings, right? You have to clarify your vision, write it into existence, speak it into existence, and post it on a wall, so it stares you in the face daily. Vision is the thing that propels us forward when all else seems lost.
Many times a client will come to me with what they think is a clear vision, but upon closer inspection, we find it is either too vague, not specific enough, too lofty, or not challenging enough. The goal has to inspire and prompt growth. If we are not growing, we are dying, just like plants.
If you're trying to motivate or engage a group, Vision is how you get them on board. You have to make the Vision real for them. They have to be able to see it, feel it, and understand how this vision will positively impact their lives. Often when I am coaching executives specifically on how to motivate a team, I remind them to Lead with the Vision. It means to find out what about that Vision is vital to each individual in the group and then speak to that. We are not all motivated by the same things. Understanding the individuals in your team and their personal needs, aspirations, and goals will help show them how those things align with the shared goal. Then you can lead with Vision. This is how you get their buy-in, and you NEED their buy-in if you are going to accomplish anything collectively.
Have you ever regretted missing out on a great opportunity?
We all have! Why? Why do we shy away and even run away from perfectly peachy opportunities? They are all around us.
Perhaps we don't recognize them as such. Maybe we don't believe we deserve them. I often see this as a coach - you don't feel ready enough, good enough, or fill-in-the-blank enough. Let me tell you something: many famously successful people admit they never felt “ready enough.” They just did it anyway! But how? What if you fail?
Here's the thing, it is better to go after an opportunity and Fail -Yes! Fail Hard-than it is to wonder for the rest of your life, "What If?"
Failure is not the worst-case scenario. The "What If?” is.
This is where a good coach can help, offering tools and prompting shifts in perspectives to overcome those self-sabotaging fears.
When it comes to opportunities, sometimes you just have to step in and do it.
Use the skills that brought you to that opportunity, learn everything you can to improve your weaknesses, and keep on expanding your knowledge. You can do this by studying others who are successful, by reading, taking workshops, or by working with a coach.
Much like opportunities, you are surrounded by resources, but sometimes you don't recognize them. Sometimes, you don’t feel you deserve to ask or are afraid to lean on them. Resources can be friends, family, contacts, and, Yes, money. They are also your experiences, skills - the things you have learned along the way that may be applicable today. Resources come in many different forms. Don’t be afraid to lean on those resources when you need to.
Maybe you are a great planner-Boy! You can make a plan, make it neat, make it pretty, even color-code it!
But the pivotal question is how well do you execute?
It is not enough to take time to make a plan. You have to Actualize the plan – push it all the way through.
It begins with a good amount of research, then doable steps with precise deadlines. Finally, the plan should be simple. I like to say I live by the KISS Rule – Keep It Stupid Simple! The simpler the steps, the more likely they are to get done. Additionally, they should make you stretch beyond your comfort zone. That's how you get growth.
As a Leadership Coach, I have seen my clients struggle with this part, and it is then my job to help them recognize where the plan is faulty and how to fix it. Everything can be fixed if you can spot and avoid these pitfalls:
You make the plan too complicated
You make the plan so unrealistic, like losing 20 pounds in two days, that you or the team quickly get defeated and give up
You don’t actually work the plan that you make
You give up or shift too quickly when met with resistance
You don’t shift soon enough after ample evidence the plan is not working or needs to change
The other piece that is invaluable to seeing a plan through is the accountability factor.
As a coach, part of my success with my clients is helping them by acting as an accountability partner, sometimes a cheerleader, and sometimes a source of motivation when things get tough. Whether working with a coach or setting up regular check-ins with a colleague or friend, having an accountability partner incredibly increases your chance of success. None of us make it alone. We thrive together, collective energies and ideas feeding the fires of creativity and inspiration. If you have a huge ambition, I highly recommend working with a coach, mentor, or accountability partner to help you stay the course and push you along when you need support and motivation.
So what do you do when shift happens? Maybe you have a solid plan, but LIFE gets in the way. You know, like a global pandemic shutting you down?
Sometimes you have to shift mid-plan. That’s ok. Sometimes you have to throw the plan out altogether and start from scratch. That's ok. And then sometimes the Vision suddenly changes.
Here is a simple but powerful exercise I have my coaching clients do on a weekly and quarterly basis.
Look at the week/quarter that just passed. Ask yourself:
What do I need more of?
What do I need to get rid of?
What do I need to change?
You can apply these questions to personal and professional goals alike.
The answers to these questions will help you in planning for that next week, next quarter. Those responses need to be honest. The action plan to follow should be simple – not necessarily easy – simple/doable.
The more you make tiny recalibrations, like a dancer balancing on her toes, small shifts to keep you on track to achieving your goal, the more likely you are to accomplish what you set out to.
Doing this exercise honestly and consistently will help you understand what is working about your plan and what is not. Taking swift action accordingly will help you continue to move forward. Consistency is key.
You can achieve your vision, no matter how difficult it may seem. You can turn roadblocks into runways to success. It just takes focus, consistency, a solid plan, persistence, and collaboration, whether with a team, a coach, or an accountability partner. None of us succeed alone. But all of us can succeed!