When a crisis happens it can bring into focus what’s really important to us.
Loss, whether a threat or a reality, brings into sharp relief what we really want from life.
This might lead to appreciating with renewed gratitude what you already have and galvanising your determination to keep hold of it.
Or, it might lead to you considering what you want to change. To find the courage to take that risk you wouldn’t have before, with the realisation that ‘life is too short’.
The key to any of this is avoiding a knee jerk reaction. Which can be difficult, when we’re faced with limitations, it’s very tempting to take action – any action!
Following the tips below will ensure that whatever future you want to create will be grounded in what really matters. Which means you will feel more compelled to get there and it will happen with ease.
This blog is written from the perspective of an individual, but this is just as relevant is you are a business leader. Now, is a fantastic time to reevaluate what’s important about the way the people within your business behave with each other and engage with your customers. Organisational vision and values are a tool to articulate what’s expected – maybe this has changed? Maybe this is a great opportunity to refresh and engage? With small tweaks the process below can be applied to a team – more info at the end of this blog.
Start with your feelings
Where you really need to start is with your values, but most people don’t know what they are. Or they begin with vanilla words such as ‘family’ or ‘security’. These are certainly things to be of value, but they don’t describe why you value them – the feeling that you experience when you are secure, or focusing upon your family for example.
Instead, begin by considering:
‘How do I feel when I’m absolutely at my best?’ You might say things like, energised, vital, unstoppable, tranquil, calm, in the zone, proud, on fire, smart, creative, organised, focussed.
‘Who do I admire and what qualities in them do I admire?’ I admire, sassy, wise, unapologetic women like the feminist Germaine Greer, or a fabulous tartan suit wearing, ultra marathon running 70 year old woman I met the other day.
‘How do I feel when work is meeting all my needs?’ For me the descriptive words I would use here are connected, flexible, varied.
‘How do I feel when my personal relationships are on top form?’ Maybe you would describe feeling supported, admired, valued.
‘How do I want to feel about my life?’ I would say ‘adventurous’, my sister would say ‘feeling comfort and warmth’.
‘What would I like to hear others saying about me?’ Examples could be kind, caring, intelligent, sexy, knowledgeable, ethical. Don’t be shy now – this list is for you, this is not the time to be modest.
Scribble down the feelings and words to describe as they come to you.
Distill your list into a Top 5
Start by clustering words which are from a similar theme.
For example; sexy, sassy, vital, glowing, energetic could be clustered and knowledgeable, important, credible, skilled could be another cluster.
Observe what kind of themes are coming out.
Get a thesaurus and start looking up the words, what other descriptors are there? Is there a word which really resonates which sums up a cluster? Or does one word from a cluster, resonate more than the others?
Hone down your list until you settle upon 5 words.
Make them visible.
Write down each word on a separate piece of paper, or post it note.
Stick them on your wall, mirror, or fridge, anywhere they will be visible to you everyday.
Ruminate upon the list.
Do all these words resonate?
Adjust if necessary – this is your list, tweak it all you like.
Allow your future vision to emerge
Once you have settled upon your feeling descriptors you will have a good handle upon what you value in life.
The next step is to consider what conditions enable you to experience those feelings/values consistently.
Don’t force this stage, let the ideas develop. When you leave things a little more open, you leave room for alternatives to emerge, that you might not have considered otherwise.
Think of your vision for the future developing like an old Polaroid picture, rather than an instant Smartphone snapshot.
For instance, after I separated from my ex-husband and decided to move house, I considered 2 of my values – adventure and flexibility. I wanted the kids to have an outdoor space, to play and have small, safe adventures, but I didn’t want the commitment of having to look after a large garden. I thought I wanted a traditional Victorian terrace and excluded new builds. But then the purchase of a house I was buying fell through and I needed to find somewhere to live, quickly. I went to look at some new builds and they fitted my values and vision perfectly. I had a tiny, postage stamp garden, but the front door opened onto a large green, with a road looping around the outside. The outdoor space was large and safe and I didn’t need to maintain it!
Time travel to create clarity
Take yourself to the future – as if you have stepped into a Tardis and you have stepped out in 3/5/10 years time – whatever works for you.
- Experience your life in that future – as if you are actually there.
- What do you see? Make it colour and make it a moving vision.
- What do you feel? Sensations, emotions, how is your body moving?
- What are you hearing? Maybe you hear people saying something, what is it? Make it clear and easily audible.
- You may even consider what you will smell and taste.
You can get into your Tardis and travel here as often as you like, adding details as they emerge.
What steps did you take?
Now, look back to the here and now (remember, you are standing in the future):
- How did you get here?
- What actions did you take?
- What mindset have you developed?
- What were the key milestones along the way?
This is a very powerful technique and here is a lovely example here of how Benjamin Zander, who is Musical Director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra uses it.
Small Steps, Review, Celebrate, Move Again
Come back to the present time.
Identify and write down the first small steps you will take to achieve your vision.
Give yourself and timescale for having achieved those small steps.
Remember, these are small actions – not milestones.
When you have taken those small steps. Acknowledge it! Celebrate with a little ‘whoop’ inside! Recognise that you have made progress.
One of the most frustrating things about creating change is our impatience. Once we have decided where we’re going, we often want to be there right now!
But you know it’s about the journey right?
By taking small steps and stopping to review and understand what you have done, it also gives you the opportunity to adjust course. Like with my example about moving house. Circumstances forced the course adjustment, but nevertheless, I remained open to alternative options and delivered a better result.
Building in review is essential to any kind of success, because this is how we learn and evolve.
I wish you health (even more important than ever at these times) and happiness and most of all to enjoy your journey in articulating your values and developing your vision.
Applying to businesses and teams
Organisational values are often perceived as a marketing tool – something we put on our website, or tell our customers. The true purpose of values is to engage with your team and ensure everyone understands what’s important about the way they interact with each other, how they behave with customers and how this all leads to a consistent and powerful experience. Engaging your people is paramount to engaging your customer so they will come back time and time again and recommend you to everyone they know.
Developing a vision is often seen as the responsibility of the business/department leader. How much more powerful when the whole team contributes? The ownership of a co-created vision is 10 times that of one which has been cascaded. Which means enhanced accountability and exponential results.
A business/team engagement workshop includes elements of the team pause, with the addition of exploring and articulating values.
If you’re considering what your business and team will look like post Covid19 then talk to me about team engagement and redefining your future together.
If you’re an individual, who would like some help considering and redefining your future, then get in touch and we can arrange some one to one coaching sessions over Zoom/Skype.
Lyn Paxman, EvolveYou: firstname.lastname@example.org 07950 914328