“You've got to think about big things while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction." -- Alvin Toffler
At this time of year, we all get excited about personal renewal, our plans for the coming year and how we can enhance our personal and professional lives in 2011. Even though most of us have traveled the road of broken resolutions, hope springs eternal as we prepare to refresh our commitment and recharge our batteries ... and make plans to overcome our shortcomings and rise to new levels of success.
There are many fashionable approaches to this process, many of them with valuable insights. Jonathan Fields has chosen 10 words that he uses to focus his energy. His approach is an expanded derivation from a three-word approach used by Chris Brogan, who, like me, uses his carefully chosen words "the way a lighthouse helps a ship in a storm."
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Ernest Hemingway used only six words to write what he called his greatest novel ... and the more you think on it, the more intriguing it becomes. It's one more approach you can use to bring the essence of your 2011 plan into sharp focus. Although we're more interested in clarity than mystery in our annual pilgrimage to the altar of realistic expectations, this approach, like those of Jonathan and Chris, also celebrates the power of simplicity.
Maybe you've used variations on these K.I.S.S. principles to craft all sorts of goals and objectives … memorialized in lists, notebooks and diagrams. Yet, when we step back into the maelstrom of real life, distractions intrude, new input floods our inboxes, and without seeing it, we start to slowly drift off course. We madly implement course correction procedures, but instead of returning us to our original direction, they cause us to lurch about, each adjustment resulting in a slightly different course even further from our original objective.
So, how many words does that leave us? Let’s see, by my calculation, just one word … if we take Field’s 10 words, subtract Hemingway’s six words and then take away Brogan’s three words, there’s just one left. Good for us, though, because I want to encourage you to focus on just one unifying word for 2011, the single theme that identifies the cornerstone of your strategy, upon which all others are built.
This is a great way to find your own lighthouse. After all, the lighthouse is a pretty simple concept, isn't it? There’s not a bunch of conflicting beams throwing us off course. Nope. Just one … and with a singular purpose: to keep our ship from crashing against the rocks. Just as a lighthouse sits on land overlooking the sea, we also seek the same clarity to recognize the cornerstone of our strategy, a “bright line” that separates our objectives from what Steve Jobs calls “all the crappy stuff.”
One of the mantras we hear most often in sports is "don't take your eye off the ball." Wide receivers in football, hitters in baseball, scorers in basketball, tennis aces ... they all know what that means. They've learned despite their varied stances, footwork, clever dodges or patented moves, that if they don't keep their eye on the ball, everything else is wasted energy.