The Power of Strategic Thinking: Creating Meaningful Success

Too much goal setting and strategic planning can leave you feeling like you're working against the forces of nature; too little and you end up where you never intended to be-with a life or business that is bigger, smaller, or different than what you genuinely desire. Though getting you and your organization where you most want them to be at any given time can be hard work it can also be exhilarating. Is there a better way? Is it possible to minimize the stress and maximize the exhilaration while still accomplishing those things that are most important to you?

Absolutely-it simply requires a shift in consciousness. The "win at all costs" mentality (win-lose) continues to give way to the "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" mentality (win-win). And this is evolving further. Today we can position ourselves for success, contribute to the success of others, and be responsive to the needs of our changing world (win-win-win).

If your first thoughts echo the sentiment "the world is going to hell in a hand basket," please note that we needn't go with it, nor must we turn back time. Instead, we must take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions-in life and business. What we do affects not only the quality of our lives, but others' lives as well. We have an unprecedented opportunity in today's world to create meaningful lives, powerful and productive organizations, and contribute to a greater good for our global community. The change begins with each one of us.

IDENTIFY YOUR HIGHEST VISION:

"What is your greatest intention for your life and business?" Knowing the purpose for your existence is important. The quality of the goods we create, the services we extend, and the relationships we build are central to all that we are and all that we do. "If you don't know where you're going you might end up somewhere else" is a light-hearted statement that conveys very real wisdom. Yet when people are asked what they most want to accomplish in their lives they all too frequently respond with, "I just want to be successful."

This response is way too vague to be helpful. Genuine success must be personally defined and be inclusive of all aspects of who you are, what you do, and what you want to accomplish. That said, we also know that it is our financial integrity that sustains our ability to contribute in productive and meaningful ways, live in accordance with our greatest desires, and call forth the gifts and talents of others. Our personal and professional lives are inextricably interwoven and it is imperative that we stay attentive to multiple bottom-lines.

KNOW WHAT'S IN YOUR "POSSIBILITY FUNNEL":

"What specific things do you want to direct your attention and efforts toward?" Fulfilling our greatest intentions is a multi-faceted endeavor. It is essential that we not make decisions prematurely, nor let the "tyranny of the possible" stop us from moving forward. Decisions must be made within the context of all of the things that are most important to each individual or entity. Life and business need not be lead in a linear fashion-it's not in our best interest to move from point A to point B with blinders on.

All of our values, the possibilities that intrigue us, and the goals we are striving toward must be within the scope of our vision at all times. Many who have locked into a single goal to the exclusion of all others will tell you how quickly life can get out of balance. A singular focus can cost people their health, loss of significant relationships (both personal and professional), and access to other opportunities that might have served them better.

DECIDE ON THE ONE NEXT STEP:

"What is the ONE next step you can take to move yourself toward your goals?" Every intentional step a person takes offers them new opportunities and insights that will serve as guides for the next step they will want or need to take. It's not necessary to know exactly how things will happen or have everything you anticipate needing before you begin. We can't start an ascent at the top of a mountain, and if we continually focus on all that the trip will entail we can become so daunted that we never begin at all.

Once we have the "big picture" and have grasped the magnitude of our potential journey, we must focus our attention on taking each individual step. Though you can anticipate some of what you'll encounter and can stand ready to respond to changing circumstances, count on life and business to be full of surprises. Trust that you'll know what you need to know when you need to know it and that you can acquire the learning or resources as the need for them arises.

HOLD YOUR GOALS LIGHTLY:

"Do your goals continue to be what you most want to work toward?" Choosing what's most appropriate for us at any given time allows us to make new decisions the minute a given goal or action stops being right. It doesn't matter how much we've invested personally or financially, if a goal is no longer suitable we are better served to release it and move on. Imagine relaxing into the flow of your life, or being able to support your organization's ability to be both goal-oriented and responsive to changing circumstances. Nice thought, huh?

Knowing what you want and why you want it is essential, but staying open to other possibilities is both wise and prudent. Sometimes obstacles are put in our paths to direct us elsewhere, other times to test our resolve and commitment. At the very least obstacles invite us to reassess the "rightness of our direction," and to relinquish our hold on a goal when it serves us well to do so.

UTILIZE EACH NEW VANTAGE POINT:

"Where do you want to go from here?" As you achieve goals or decide they're no longer right for you, new decisions must be made and new directions determined. By continually scanning our changing horizon we create a fluid and self-correcting way to continually experience success. When you consistently reevaluate the "rightness of your direction," you can identify new opportunities and possibilities in the same moment that you are achieving or releasing another goal. Has someone new been drawn to you who can further your efforts? Is there a new use for your efforts? Has something changed, internally or externally, that leads you to feel differently about your goals? Do you want or need to alter course?

Change is the only constant in life and business, it is important to stay open to unintended outcomes and unforeseen possibilities. When we relinquish our need to exert our will over everyone and everything (power over) we can relax into new opportunities for our lives and businesses (power to).

CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES AND CONTINUE ON:

"What have you accomplished and what new sense of purpose has arisen?" Powerful and productive decisions in life and business reflect people's highest visions-and highest visions grow with each step taken. Life and business aren't intended to be a series of starts and stops, at their best they are a constant evolution toward excellence. When someone says, "you're getting there," the smart mouth says "there where?" Each of our goals is merely a mile marker and as it is accomplished or discarded it is replaced by yet another. Life satisfaction increases and the culture of an organization is enhanced tremendously, however, when we take time to acknowledge every step taken as a genuine accomplishment.

Once the celebration is over, our sense of purpose calls for meaningful action to continue.

Success is both a destination and a journey, travel lightly and savor each moment!

Susan J. Schutz founded Highest Vision in 1999. Highest Vision services ? executive coaching, leadership development, and team building -- reflect her deep conviction that professionals can be attentive to their "bottom lines" while also creating lives worth living and businesses that contribute to the good of all. For a free subscription to VantagePoint, Highest Vision's free E-zine for trailblazers in life and business, go to http://www.highest-vision.com.

In The News:

Strategic planning for 2021  Estes Park Trail-Gazette
Strategic Planning for an Unprecedented Fall Semester  The Chronicle of Higher Education
UAM begins new strategic plan  Pine Bluff Commercial
Bringing Organizational Well-Being to Life  Stanford Social Innovation Review
Greg Morosiuk appointed as Chairman of HDMGlobal  TRL - Independent Transport Research
Friends of Brandeis Athletics  Brandeis Athletics

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