Why You Should NOT Start with the End in Mind!
Which motivates you more… being told what you’re great at… or being told what you suck at? Would you rather hear about your strengths, or your weaknesses? Which is more useful to you in navigating your way to your dreams and aspirations?
Bill Stainton’s post this morning is an excellent reminder of how to keep your workforce motivated and, as Bill points out, if you’re a solopreneur… your workforce is you! Read it here: How to Build the Best Workplace on Earth!
In any endeavor, you ultimately are your own boss. You determine the quality of your work. You bring your own resources into the “project,” which I mean broadly as a business, an adventure, a relationship… anything where you want to get from Point A to Point B.
Along those lines, in Fumes and a Prayer: How to Live at the Edge and Still Be Home for Dinner, you discover that the popular philosophy of “start with the end in mind” is cute, catchy, and incorrect! It’s dangerous because it fails to take into account what you currently have to work with.
If your “the end in mind” is reaching the moon, and what you’ve currently got is a Chevy, you’d better rethink where you’re headed. You’re not working from weaknesses per se, but more importantly, you’re not working from your strengths.
This advice would have helped me on my first attempt to climb Mt. Rainier. At the end of a long hike in to timberline, I set up my little tent and unpacked my freeze-dried dinner and my cooking hardware and mountain stove. Wait! Tent, check. Freeze-dried steak and potatoes and green peas, check. Stuff to cook it in, check. Mountain stove… mountain stove? Where’s the dang mountain stove?
The dang mountain stove was at home, comfortably doing nothing to help me.
My goal, reach the summit of Mt. Rainier, was foremost in my mind. I started with that, focused on that, “the end in mind”… and starved on that!
Or I would have, if it wasn’t for the kindness and good humor of a couple other guys in the climbing party who shared their stove with me.
Nope, my advice, in my own particular brand of brilliance, is to start with “where you are.”
The question with which to begin any journey, any project, any relationship, any adventure, any business is:
What assets, resources, gifts, talents, abilities do I have available to me right now? Doesn’t that make more sense?
It’s the ABCs of Navigate.
- A – where you Are.
- B – where you want to Be.
- C – your Course to take to get from A to B.
At a particularly low point a few years ago, you would have found me on a patio under a green Starbucks umbrella sipping a white chocolate mocha. On the glass tabletop, lay my personal journal, open to a blank page.
On the top of the first page I wrote “Aviate” and underneath listed those things that were basic to my life that I needed to get a handle on before I did anything else… eat right, sleep enough, get some exercise. Pretty basic, right?
On the top of the next page I wrote “Navigate” and underneath listed the ABCs.
Under A, where you are, I listed all the assets and things I had available to me at that moment. I had a car that worked. I had a roof over my head. I had a couple dollars in my pocket. I had a workshop on storytelling I could teach. I had friends and supporters and clients. I had a mountain stove!
From there I wrote out B… what it would look like when this was past and I would be where I wanted to be.
And finally I wrote C… and listed 21 steps I needed to take to get from where I was, with what I had, to where I wanted to be.
This really is working from your strengths, rather than your weaknesses. As Bill told me in a reply to my comment on his post, we don’t ignore our weaknesses, we just focus 80% of our attention on our strengths. Much more motivating and way more effective.
What do you think? Got an opinion on the subject? Please share your thoughts!