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This week is a celebration of MLK Day, a day to reflect upon the great work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who had a huge vision which he dedicated his life to and who challenged the rest of us to do the same. Not only did he champion equal rights but also equal access to economic opportunity for all Americans. A lesson we can all learn from MLK is the power of a clear and compelling vision, for our lives, our companies and our communities.
In in today's fast paced world of instant communication and gratification, it seems long term strategic plans and vision statements may have lost some relevance and have been overtaken by short term goals and agendas.
Yes it is absolutely important to have goals and ways to measure progress but there is something beyond goals that all successful people, businesses and communities have, and that’s a compelling vision. A vision for the future where they see things as they are and then they make sure they also see things better than they are. Research proves over and over again that the companies, communities and even governments that have greater sustainability and lasting success are those with a sense of deep mission and meaning in what they do.
What is a compelling vision?
One that you can visualise in your mind's eye, one that you can almost touch, taste and feel what it will feel like to achieve that vision. Luminaries past and present such as MLK have an ability to step into their vision and future self and communicate and work from that place with absolute clarity. Our UQ Powerhouse framework for all we teach at UQ Power has vision as the first of its four quadrants. We believe that vision underpins everything you do and you can’t move forward with a sense of urgency and purpose without it.
Employees today want more than just a pay check, they want more meaning in the workplace and that can come from being part of a team contributing to a compelling vision. At medical product company Medtronic when new employees join the company they go to a "Mission and Medallion" ceremony where they meet the CEO and hear about how the company has changed the lives of patients and employees. Each employee is given a medallion with a depiction of a sick person rising and are asked to accept the mission of Medtronic which is "to restore people to full life and health".
In his inspiring book Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl quotes Nietzsche saying "He who has a WHY can bear with almost any HOW." What's your why? Is it so clear you can almost touch it and feel it? Do those that need to be on board have clarity and ownership of their part of moving towards the vision?
Don't have a vision? Try this exercise with your team. Each person writes down in their own words what their own personal vision for the organisation, group or relationship is. They then pass their version to the person on their right. That person underlines the words that resonate with them and then passes the paper onto the next person until everyone has reviewed each others. At the end the most highly endorsed (underlined) common words can be written on a white board and discussed by the group writing them into a sentence that represent the groups’ view of a single shared vision.
Share your thoughts below on vision statements or having a vision. What's worked for you in the past?
When you want to learn a new skill, how do you usually go about it? Learn first and then practice? If that’s your method for becoming a genius you’re on the right track, but you’re only half way to becoming a Legendary Master.
Psychologist, Dr Anders Ericsson did a study revealing that those who practiced a skill for at least 10,000 hours were more successful than those who didn’t. No surprises there as “practice makes perfect” right? Well… to a point.
Emotional Intelligence expert and Psychologist, Daniel Goleman explains the problem with this single method:
“Ten thousand hours of practice may or may not bring you to the top of your game, and the reason is this: if you are a so-so golfer and you have a so-so golf stroke and you practice that golf stroke in a so-so way, in 10,000 hours you are still going to have the same poor golf stroke,” Daniel Goleman
Here at UQ Power, we believe that success is driven by four keys: Vision, Body, Intelligence Quotient (IQ), and Emotional Quotient (Emotional Intelligence or EQ). (We call this the UQ Power House). And when it comes to powering up your IQ muscle, it takes more than repetition to build strength.
Focus is key to boosting your IQ
As we’ve become more digitally connected, we’ve also become more distracted. We suffer from multi-tasking and undertake it with a matter of pride. Even when we’re performing just a single action, our brain remains in multi-task mode; distracted by other thoughts, sensations, and mental to-do lists.
Continual multi-tasking has led our brains to reconfigure its neurons (the “hardwiring that sends messages”) to cope with only that sort of thinking. So when it comes time to focus… well… we simply can’t.
To become a true master of any skill, you need to focus when you practise. No distractions, no mental checks of what you need to do afterwards – full, present focus.
“Learning how to improve any skill also requires top-down focus. Neuroplasticity, the strengthening of old brain circuits and building of new ones for a skill we are practicing, requires our paying attention. When practice occurs while we are focusing elsewhere, the brain does not rewire the relevant circuitry for that particular routine.
Daydreaming defeats practice; those of us who browse TV while working out will never reach the top ranks. Paying full attention seems to boost the mind’s processing speed, strengthen synaptic connections, and expand or create neural networks for what we are practicing,” Dr Goleman.
Feedback makes perfect
When your golf swing is consistently causing the ball to veer left, it’s time to get expert feedback. A skilled golfing coach can tell you that you’re stance is affecting your swing and that you need to practice standing with your shoulders in alignment to your feet.
While you may learn a new skill quickly and easily, it’s likely that you’ll plateau. To get past it and to continually improve, you need feedback to help you see where your opportunities are and how you can strengthen your game.
In business, a team that performs well consistently still needs feedback. Progression and continual improvement will only happen if the team has an objective view of opportunities and strengths from which they can leverage.
How is your game? Is it time for you to get some feedback and guidance?
Here’s a story of how UQ Power helped McCulloch Robertson lift their game, increasing their cash flow by half a million dollars within a month.
Everybody uses the “F” bomb. It’s a word that we attach so much negative emotion to – ego, pride, fear. Too many people connect their self-worth to the word – failure.
Failure is not an end point
If scientists saw their first attempts at creating cures for disease as a failure, we would not have any known cures in the world. If you think about it, we would be living a VERY simple, primitive lifestyle if everyone throughout history saw their mistakes as an end point – a time to give up on curiosity and discovery.
Replace “failure” with “lesson”
When an infant learns to walk, she has to find her centre of gravity by trial and error. She will wobble and stumble and fall for some time before she walks on her own two feet without support. When she leans to the left too much, she learns that it will tip her sideways. When she leans too far forward, she learns that she’ll tumble to the ground.
People who have all four quarters of their UQ Power House in balance, in particular their IQ quadrant, understand that failures provide lessons by a process of elimination.
When you’re mentally strong, you know: what not to do, what chemical compound doesn’t belong in the cure, leaning to the left will make you stumble, and what success doesn’t look like. So you try again with a more informed foundation of knowledge.
The saying “Success never comes without failure” should really say “Success never comes without a lesson to be learnt”.
A leader with a strong IQ also knows when it’s time to call it quits. The difference with this leader is that he takes with him is a better idea of how he can succeed.
A recent Forbes article that went viral with popularity also pointed out that mentally strong people know when it’s time to move on.
“We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.”
The end of year is a great time to reflect. Today, power up your IQ quadrant by contemplating all the wonderful lessons you’ve learned throughout the year.
Please share with us below how your past “failures” have helped to move you closer to your goals (because that’s exactly what they do!).