“If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.” In this week’s blog, we’re looking at habit number two of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you missed it, our last post was about Habit 1: 5 ways to be more proactive in business.
Leadership vision means beginning with the end in mind
This is an excerpt taken from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which summarises habit number 2 – beginning with the end in mind. So, what do you want to be when you grow up? That question may appear a little trite, but think about it for a moment. Are you – right now – who you want to be, what you dreamed you’d be, doing what you always wanted to do? Be honest. Sometimes people find themselves achieving victories that are empty – successes that have come at the expense of things that were far more valuable to them. If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster. Habit 2 is based on imagination – the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualise who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It’s about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfil yourself. Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen. One of the best ways to incorporate Habit 2 into your life is to develop a Personal Mission Statement. It focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life. You create your own destiny and secure the future you envision.
How did we build a business vision at Beyond?
When I started Beyond, I had a very clear vision of building a business that was based on developing relationships and providing a service to business owners that they weren’t used to receiving from their accountant. Four years on, we are well and truly living this. We have recently spent some time revisiting these initial values, vision and the future mission of Beyond. When we think about beginning with the end in mind, we think about where we would like to take Beyond as a business over the next 10-20 years. This vision is very clear to us now. We know that we will be the accounting firm of choice for Irish businesses. So what are we doing to connect the dots? How are we ensuring the path to this vision is clear and guided? The first thing we did is revisit our overall strategic and operational plan for the business for the next 10 years, 3 – 5 years, 1 year, and the next 90 days. We have consolidated these plans into a one page business plan. Given the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in, we have no doubt that our one page plan will have many layers and ultimately change in many ways. We do, however, know that we have set solid foundations for our plan in the form of our:
- unique core values that we want to live by;
- core competencies that we want to be known for;
- Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) that we want to strive for in the next 10 years; and
- underpinning all of that is our WHY – our purpose – which we have clearly articulated.
At Beyond, we believe in relationships. We give of ourselves because we know this is the path to our own happiness. Once we had set the foundations, we believed it to be really important to share the plan with our team. So we did. We sat around a table and discussed each detailed box on our plan. Everyone asked questions, gave feedback and ultimately bought into the bigger vision of Beyond. Now we have the entire team moving in the same direction, together.
3 ways you can begin with the end in mind in your business
Now it’s your turn! Here are three ways you can begin with the end in mind in your business, starting today:
- Complete this exercise: In 10 years’ time, a newspaper decides to do a story about you and your business. They interview four people about you. These could be mentors, friends, family or colleagues. What would you want them to say about you and your journey in business?
- Develop a personal mission statement: As the book says, a great way to incorporate Habit 2 into your life is to develop a Personal Mission Statement. Your mission statement focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life. Set some time aside to write down the above points in relation to what you want to achieve.
- Complete a one page business plan: A great way to bring your vision to life for your business is to get it down on paper and articulate it in a simple, clear and concise way. A one page business planning exercise will help you here. The Gazelles website has a one page plan template available to download, amongst other great resources from Verne Harnish, the world-renowned business consultant. They are free to download and are tried and tested with very successful businesses.
Habit 3: Put First Things First… coming soon!