markus-winkler-LNzuOK1GxRU-unsplash

THE HEXAGON OF SUCCESS

Six principles that will turn good intentions into positive actions and make the impossible possible

Over the past few weeks I have been reflecting on goal setting. Much has been written on the subject, emphasising that having properly structured, ambitious goals, written down will make you successful, wealthy and happy. A 1953 Yale study is often quoted as evidence of this. However, it has been determined that no “Goals Study” of the Class of 1953 actually occurred. There is on the other hand a fair amount of anecdotal evidence confirming that a large proportion of people with goals abandon them long before accomplishing what they set out to do. This article therefor is not about setting goals, but about how to assess the quality of your goals and their likelihood of being successfully completed because: The true challenge is not in setting goals—but in realising goals.

There are a variety of systems available for effective goal setting. Not least the well-known S.M.A.R.T. system. The acronym that stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed. An excellent system that is indeed both smart and effective in creating goals with clear purpose and defined deadlines. However, my view is that goal setting can easily become slightly contrived exercises in ticking boxes. Because it is important to understand that purpose is not the same as meaning and a SMART goal, however specific its purpose, will not necessarily contain a meaning that will inspire and drive you onwards.

I have therefore designed a process, which I call The Hexagon of Success that if you apply it will significantly increase your chances of realising your goals by ensuring they are not merely an exercise in box-ticking, but also represents something that you truly want and can achieve. The process appeals both to your emotions and powers of reason, as well as providing a practical structure for implementation.

The Hexagon of Success is built around six principles Sensible, Significant, Sincere, Small, Simple and Sustained. I shall address each principle in turn, but before continue reading I suggest you take a moment to think of one of your own goals against which you can test these ideas for your self.

1. SENSIBLE

A genuine belief that you can achieve your goal will increase your chances of success. Therefore first of all confirm that your goal is sensible, and not a pie in the sky? By sensible I mean that it can actually be accomplished. If you have prepared your goal properly, using for instance the SMART system, we can assume it is indeed doable so this should simply be a matter of confirming that this is the case.

Even though a goal should be bold and ambitious your expectation of successfully completing it must be realistic. A goal with an unlikely probability of success will quickly become de-moralizing and de-motivating, which is the exact opposite effect that it should have on your self-confidence. If there is any doubt, what so ever, that your goal is sensible review it once more.

2. SIGNIFICANT

Your goals might be short, medium or long term; personal or business, but in every case it must be a wish for something that will bring significant results to be worthy of pursuit. A goal providing limited return and that is too easily accomplished, perhaps just a general task, should go on your daily to-do list. It does not belong on your personal development plan and should not be allowed to occupy valuable time or space in your mind.

Some questions that will help you ascertain whether your coal is really significant might be:

· What exactly will I achieve

· What will I have when I achieve this

· What in my life will be better

· What will be different

· Who else will benefit

If the answers to these questions points to a significantly improved situation, the thought of which inspires you, then you will have a worthwhile goal to pursue.

3. SINCERE

Having a clear purpose is no guarantee, however, that your objective has true meaning to you, so the outcome must be something that you truly and sincerely desire, or it will not be sufficiently motivating. Your sensible and significant goal must be something that you sincerely want to do, not something that you think you should do.

To check in with yourself I suggest you answer the question: why do I want this, five times—with an emphasis on “I”.

· I want this because…

· I want this because…

· I want this because…

· I want this because…

· I want this because…

If you can come up with five compelling reasons, intellectual, practical and emotional, as to why you want this outcome you will have a goal truly worth striving for. The thought of your goal should excite you and make you feel proud.

I repeat—your goal must be something you actually want to do, and not something you think you should do: two considerably different driving forces, the former being intrinsic and the latter extrinsic. And personal development has to be intrinsically driven to be successful. So if your sensible goal does not pass the significant and sincere tests it may not be worth pursuing at all.

4. SMALL

The second part of the process starts by deciding on small actions to take towards your objective. By breaking a seemingly overwhelmingly large goal into smaller parts it will seem less daunting and more manageable, which will give you a feeling of control. Each small action needs to be just big enough to be doable in one go. (Otherwise the small action becomes a project in its own right.) By tackling each action separately, one by one, you will soon have completed the larger objective without feeling overwhelmed.

Personal growth starts where your comfort zone ends, however, so your small action should push you ever so slightly beyond where you started out. Not so far beyond that it becomes a daunting chore, which might cause you to procrastinate. Ideally it should feel like a fun and rewarding challenge.

But a small step for some is a giant leap for others, and your comfort zone will change depending on context, so chose your action well and make sure that it too fits the sensible principle, i.e. that you can actually manage it.

5. SIMPLE

Your small action must be simple to implement and incorporate into your regular routines; preferably without the need for additional scheduling, preparation or special equipment. (Unless it involves going to the gym for instance.) Anything that requires specific arrangements is too easy to put off, especially if you are running short of time. So you need to think of ways to simply incorporating your small actions into your day-to-day activities.

An effective method for integrating actions into daily routines is the when/then technique:

· When I get up in the morning then I sit down and write for half an hour, then I have a shower.

· When I commute to work then I read ten pages in my book on personal development.

· When I come home from work then I will straightway go jogging.

Patterns of behavior that you regularly follow will vastly boost productivity as they reduce the need for planning and decision-making. This kind of when/then strategies can be very effective in achieving this.

6. SUSTAINED

The last principle is concerned with take action towards your goals, because actions must be sustained persistently over a period of time to bear fruit. Small manageable actions taken consistently will have greater effect in the long term than big actions taken infrequently. Creating rituals will enable important actions to remain consistent and sustained. They will also help you overcome procrastination.

Rituals are different from habits in that they are performed intentionally rather than habitually. This awareness will therefore provide a rewarding sense of achievement as you progress towards your goal. If your goal is to eliminate a bad habit, or to develop new habits, rituals that will sustain your actions consistently over a longer period if time are particularly effective. But rituals are very personal and you need to establish appropriate ones that work for you. The when/then technique mentioned above can be very effective to this end.

IN SUMMARY

Goals aligned with the first three principles, sensible, significant and sincere, will appeal both to your emotions and powers of reason, which is motivating and inspiring. And by putting in place small actions that are simple to implement the likelihood of a sustained and disciplined approached to taking action, and therefore the likelihood of success, is substantially increased.

Finally—When you do complete an ambitious goal don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments. It is nice when other people recognise your achievements but it is important that you do so too. So give yourself a pat on the back and a treat for each successfully accomplished goal.

tam-wai-nx9LpzQBf9Q-unsplash

Ten good questions to ask if you are facing redundancy

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

Most of us have in recent months correctly been focused on the very short term. In most cases that has meant day-to-day survival thinking. If you have been furloughed you may have enjoyed a temporary sense of security. However, as things head slowly back to the new normal different concerns raise their ugly heads. Perhaps you are a potential victim of, in the best case reduced working hours and therefore diminishes income, or in the worst case scenario redundancy. This short piece suggests ten questions to ask yourself that may help you find clarity of direction to what to do and what to think should the worst happen, and your job is in the line of fire as a result of the Corona crisis.

1. What was already about to change before the crisis struck?

Crises accelerate change. Is it possible that your job, or your department was already in line for change and restructure. Don’t be blindsided by a false sense of security because things have been rolling along unchanged for a lone time, because there are decades where nothing happens and then there are weeks where decades happen. The Corona virus is likely to have brought old business models into sharp relief, precipitating and accelerating changes that may have been intended for a more distant future.

2. What can I do to make a contribution in a new reality?

Things are not going to go back the where they were before the crisis so what skills, experiences or personal qualities do you have that could make a difference in a restructured company with a reduced staff. Ask yourself how you can bring value in a changed business environment. Perhaps there is scope for you to make a contribution in areas that were not previously part of your remit. Take the initiative to make a proposal to management. Make it clear that you have ideas and that you’re open to change. A restructured organisation is more than ever in need of people who are positive and creative, so make sure you are seen to be proactive. You want to be part of the solution not the problem, and your initiative will make management take pause and consider you in a different light when making new plans. Soft skills matter in hard environments. Small words or gestures have a big impact with the people who are working hard to protect and resurrect the business.

3. Is my relationship with management strong and positive?

When it comes to redundancies management will always tell you they are not looking at personalities but at the business functions they need to retain for the greater good of the company. But do you really believe this to be true? When it comes to crucial decisions about who is staying and who is going management will be guided by their personal preferences, whether consciously or subconsciously. That’s human nature. We all have unconscious biases and are influenced by our likes and dislikes. Therefore be clear in your mind, and honest with yourself, about your personal relationship to the people responsible for decision-making. Don’t be mistaken into thinking this is not important.

4. Where do I access the right kind of advice?

I would like to think all employers deal with their employees honorably and fairly. This, however, is not always the case. Should the worst happen and you receive notice of redundancy make sure you access the best possible advise about your employer’s contractual obligations towards you. It is important to remember that the function of the HR department in your company, whilst hopefully dealing with your issues as fairly as possible, is primarily to safeguard the interests of the employer. If you are in a higher paid corporate position you may have the resources to seek advise from a solicitor, or if you are member of a union they will provide the support you need. If on the other hand you are working for an hourly wage, perhaps on a cero-hours contract, there will be other avenues open to you. In fact, only the other day I was talking to someone who provides low-coast advice on employment issues to people who may otherwise not have established support networks at their disposal. (I’d be pleased connect you should you wish to.)

5. How good is my story?

Competition for opportunities will accelerate. The question is why should anyone chose you ahead of others and how do you make a compelling case. The answer lies in your personal history, the story of your life. Now is the time to honestly look back on what you have achieved over many years of professional life. Don’t be a shrinking violet and overly modest with your past successes and accomplishments. The idea of generally being good at what you do is no longer enough. To prosper in the post-Covid world needs clarity of message well communicated and backed up with evidence of impact. Now is the time to take a look at your CV, not as a list of qualifications and job experiences, but to consider what message it communicates and what story it tells of your life.

6. How many possible futures can I foresee?

Perhaps you are better placed than many others at present. But your future is ultimately connected to the rest of the world. As such no one really knows what his or her future looks like. The best you can do is to consider a range of possible scenarios. Scenarios are not predictions, however, but rather possibilities to plan for and explore. They will help expand your thinking so you can better anticipate and imagine what might happen. It is important to test your capacity to operate in each scenario and the potential consequences of that possible future coming to pass. As part of this exercise it is also important to ask if you have truly examined the full range of implications. Some scenario may look rosy at first but are they based on a realistic outlook and probability? Optimism bias is real and needs to be challenged.

7. Can I trust the information?

The current Covid world is strong on opinion, but rather lighter on fact. Consultants, advisers, and professionals of every kind are filling the ether with words. Some of it is undoubtedly useful but much of it is not, and a great deal of sifting and skepticism is needed. In many cases the media is an unreliable source of information, social media even more so. There are plenty of vested interests positioning themselves in a confused world. Bias and self- interest are sadly prevalent. The best and most useful thing you can do is to ask questions and test assumptions. In assessing information presented to you the following is a useful checklist: Is the information complete, accurate, verifiable, relevant, recent and objective?

8. Are there changed practices that I should keep?

What new processes have you been using during lockdown that you should keep in the future. On-screen Zoom meetings have become an accepted norm. Some businesses have found that shorter more frequent meetings work better. Cost and time saving measures have been real. What of this has been positive and how can you bring this forward into your new situation. How have your life gained in quality rather than lost as a result. There is strong chance this will happen again. What have you learned and how well are you prepared for another similar event.

9. Am I acting from within my core value set?

People that act fast to reinforce a strong, compassionate, and positive culture stand to benefit the most post-crisis. This is the time to reflect on purpose and meaning. Chose your objective and articulate your values. If you have to make tough decisions what is your frame of reference? What is non-negotiable, and alternatively what can you stop doing and say no to? What would challenge you and render you productive and helpful. Don’t wait to be asked. Be the first to put your hand up to be counted.

10. What are my priorities?

In a post-Covid world most people will be preoccupied with four priorities in the medium term: recovering cash flow, rebuilding a career, rethinking day-today organisation, and accelerating adoption of digital solutions. What are your priorities?

Final thought

With a strong vision of where you are heading you’ll have the clarity of direction you need to move forwards. If the worst happens and you are faced with a situation you did not ask for, and that you do not want, be prepared to answer the question: What do you want?

PLUS… whenever you are ready to talk and reflect on business, life and your specific challenges I’m here for you.

I will provide discussion, encouragement, and the support you need to move forwards. By offering you a safe space for the conversations you are normally too busy to have, knowing you will not be judged, I will help you go further than you thought possible.

If you are stuck: You will become inspired and be able to move ahead.

If you are looking for direction and uncertain of what’s next: You will find clarity and purpose.

If you are lacking confidence and doubt yourself: You will re-discover your power to succeed and get back into the driver’s seat of life.

To book a no obligation, free strategy session contact me.