Doing and vision

Doing is what anchors the vision. Vision is what lifts the doing.

Without vision, doing is pointless activity. At best, it is meeting standards, delivering on goals, complying to rules. It ends the moment it has achieve its purpose. It is static as it does not allow for growth.

Without doing, vision is but a dream. A gap that will just be filled with delusion and dissatisfaction. The continuous wondering of a restless mind. It is static as well as it does not set you out on a journey.

Doing and vision go together. Keep this in mind the next time you sit down to work on your goals.

What success means

What is success?

Is it revenue? Profit? Cash?

Is it a title? A promotion? A bonus?

Is it likes? Shares? Comments?

Is it cutting corners, jumping on the bandwagon, getting distracted by the new thing?

Is it doing more of the same?

Is it the achievements of those around you?

Is it how many of your employees can afford a house, a baby, a debt repayment?

We quickly get stuck in habits. We think that just because things have been done in a certain way for a long time, just because somebody has achieved some status by doing that, then our only option is to follow the same path. Often miserably.

Find the courage to define what success means to you.

Folly

Companies have a strong tool they can leverage to influence behaviour: rewards.

The problem then is not that companies cannot figure out how to increase employees collaboration, how to break down silos, how to foster innovation, or how to build a safe space for feedback. The problem is that the focus is – sometimes unintentionally – on a contrasting behaviour, which gets strenghtened with rewards.

Steve Kerr 1995 – On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B.

The camel

Episode nine of the second season of Parks and Recreation presents a plot that many will find familiar.

The boss wants to win a competition and calls for the whole team to come up with ideas. Despite the general disengagement, each one of them presents a proposal; and when failing to agree on which one to put forward for the prize, they come together and combine them all into one. The result is a camel – in the sense of a horse designed by committee – that leaves them with slim chances to win, and yet it is a team effort. Unsatisfied and driven by possible reward, the boss calls the external consultant, who comes up with something that would most likely take the first prize. While further disengaging the team.

The point is that it is more important to achieve something together, anything really. This is how team, morale, and bond are built.

There are very few circumstances when winning matters more then the way you compete. Very few.

Possibly none.

The change you want to see

Be the change you want to see in the world.

It’s great advice. But if feels difficult, sometimes vague, often out of reach.

To make it more concrete, consider this.

You work at a company that fosters a toxic environment. Everyone is only focused on achieving a reward, to the extent that people barely greet each other when they meet in the corridors, actively hide information to get some edge, and only put a smile on their faces in the presence of a manager.

You can’t take it anymore. You are close to burn out, you are tired of being treated as a machine, and you dread the meeting to set your next goals way more than failing at them.

You have some options.

You can quit. Some do that, not many though.

You can muscle through. Most do that, and of course while doing that they lose energy, enthusiasm, well-being.

You can put up a shield of cynicism and sarcasm. I have done it myself many times. Become the one who has a witty response at the ready, a negative comment for every situation, a superior attitude that eventually will make it impossible for others to take you seriously.

Or you can reach out and ask: “how are you?” Very few do that. Despite the awful situation, very few understand that what is most needed in difficult circumstances is connection. Very few understand that they can be the initiator of something that is going to grow around them. Very few understand that they can indeed be the change they want to see in their world.

It is difficult. It can be done.