Bottom line up front: Building a vision for an organization or yourself that revolves around numbers and results can always fall apart, but finding your core ideology and building from it will always guarantee success.
I received my start in business, and learned about my passion for leadership, through selling Cutco knives and coaching others on how to do the same. The company has shown me how much I love growing as a person and helping others to grow and monetize that growth by selling an amazing product. Although many of my ideas on growth come from internal reflection and outside reading and have nothing to do with my experiences with Cutco, I have to admit that this concept of creating an entire organization straight from my vision and creating my vision from my own core ideology was spawned entirely from a short and informal talk by one of the great leaders of the Cutco world, Earl Kelly.
This year our company has experienced great losses in the form of many managers leaving our company and correspondingly we have also faced great losses in profits. As the company goes through its own failures I have also been going through some major failures with regard to my abilities as a leader and a businessperson. The company’s failures could not have come at a more opportune time for me because now, as I think about rebuilding myself and my organization, great leaders like Earl Kelly are also thinking about rebuilding. I have someone whose lead I can follow as I began to recreate what my organization is all about.
On the afternoon of September 20th Earl introduced me to a business concept that has forever changed the way I plan and build:
1. Allow the core ideology to drive your company
2. Do not let profit be your main focus
The instant after Earl said these words I realized a strong ideology that moves my team and moves me to the very core of my being was exactly what I was missing. My vision was not strong enough. In the past I had relayed to my team that I wanted financial success for them, and growth, and significance and we had tied that into our goals as a team and talked about what it would feel like to be the best sales team and the influence that our financial success would bring us. We had envisioned how this would feel and we set goals and we worked toward them, but here was the problem – our goals were centered on our results rather than on upholding our core ideology. That was an enormous mistake. The question I should have been asking myself was:
“Why did you want financial success in the first place?”
It is no secret that great companies become great because of great leaders and if you want to be a great leader then you must have your own ideology and your own vision developed to a point of absolute clarity. If you are like me and you consider yourself an agent of change then not only do you create new ideas, but you draw your feeling of significance from teaching your innovations to others and seeing their worlds change for the better as well. That is why I wanted financial success. I wanted others to ask me what I did so that I could teach them. I craved an audience and I believed and I knew that my audience would expand if I was financially successful. This is true, but it is also a major mistake.
A company’s vision should never hinge on whether or not it is successful financially, just as your personal vision for yourself should not and just as your vision for any of your collaborations should not. A strong vision produces financial success as a byproduct, but the origins of the vision are something much more perpetual. So the question I began to ask myself and you should ask yourself is:
“What would your world have to look like for you to want to commit all of your energy to it?”
I don’t mean what excites you or what feels good or what is rewarding. I mean what do you have to do everyday in order for you to hate going to sleep because you can’t keep working and keep pressing forward. You don’t have to choose to stop sleeping or break up with your girlfriend or divorce you wife if you create this world around you, but what does it look like anyway? For me this thought process turned into one of my personal daily mantras:
“Every day I will explore every way I can to find people whose development I am excited to devote all of my energy to.”
There is power in a personal mantra.
Now every day I can wake up and repeat this mantra to myself. The importance of every task I encounter throughout the day can be weighed by how much it ties into my vision. The power of having this absolutely clarity of purpose is unmistakable. Every single action that I undertake throughout my day is in some way related back to this mantra and this gives me an enormous amount of energy as it should anyone else who takes the time to self-reflect and discover their vision.
The thing about forming my vision and discovering my purpose is that I still don’t know what my purpose is. I’ve given up on finding my purpose and all that I ask myself is:
“What would give me the most energy?”
Ask yourself the same question. If everything in your life was centered on one goal that would give you limitless energy because of the excitement you have about reaching that goal what would the goal be?
Now create your vision and remind yourself of it every day.