Do you ever ask yourself, “What is the real key to success?” or “What is the best yardstick to measure my success?” My answer to these two questions is this: Your success is determined by how fast you achieve results, and you measure your success by getting the right results. So, two things are involved in producing great success: speed and outcome.
I’ve studied the subject of accelerated growth and success for years; the work I do on behalf of my clients is focused on helping them grow their enterprises faster. Why is speed important? Well, business is a results contest, and that typically involves competition. In today’s world, the winner is usually whoever delivers their products better and faster. In other words, the winners consistently get the right results faster than their competition.
When I talk about getting the right results, I’m talking about the kind of results that are planned in advance and are achieved on purpose. This means the right results are outcomes that were foreseen as part of turning a vision into reality. Successful people, by this definition, know the outcomes they need in advance, and they also know how to make them happen. Successful people (and organizations) have three strategic distinctions about the way they go about their lives and their businesses that produce the right results faster.
1. They have clarity about what they want.
2. They know how to focus on doing the things that matter.
3. They know how to execute their plans and achieve their goals.
Let’s explore each of these three distinctions
I have never believed that people are inherently lazy. I just think some people don’t have a vision that inspires them, and as a result they don’t have much they really want to do. They just appear to be lazy. I say this to point out that the issue of clarity goes to the heart of motivation and desire. If you don’t have clarity about what you really want, you will be less motivated than those who do have clarity about what they want. When you really want something, you can taste it, feel it and experience it all in your mind before you have even taken the first step toward getting it. What you really want becomes a powerful vision that pulls you forward and keeps you energized every step of the way.
When you and your team have what I call strategic clarity, you know what you want to achieve; you are able to put it in writing and be specific. You are also able to communicate the “why” of it to those you need to get behind it and work with you to execute the vision.
How clear are you about what you really want? My research and my experience with hundreds of top performers indicate that most people have less clarity than they think they have. As a result, they have difficulty pulling their teams together and frequently get the wrong results—slower.
There is another term I use called strategic IQ, which relates to the amount of time you invest in strategic thinking versus tactical thinking. All of us are involved in both types of thinking, but tactical thinking can easily overwhelm our strategic thought.
Tactical thinking concerns tasks and to-do lists. Strategic thinking is about planning and prioritizing within the context of your vision and primary goals. It’s very easy to get swamped by things that are actually huge distractions and steal our time away from things that really matter and have the power to move the results needle.
Strategic IQ helps you identify the specific activities you should spend most of your time on so you can accelerate your results. I call these kinds of tasks high-leverage activities (HLAs). When you know what your HLAs are and invest most of your time in those areas, you will become more focused on your goals. In my professional life, I have identified five HLAs, and when tasks are presented to me that fall outside this list, I avoid doing them. My five HLAs are:
• Things that will attract strong, qualified business opportunities.
• Things that deliver great value to my customers.
• Things that further clarify my direction and vision.
• Things that provide intellectual growth and wisdom.
• Things that nurture my Rolodex and enhance my ability to connect with others.
Do you know what your HLAs are? If you don’t, chances are you’re losing time daily to distractions, and that means you are not getting the right results faster.
Every business has at least one strategic plan in its file cabinet that never became a reality.
What is the biggest reason plans are never executed? By far the biggest culprit is a communication disconnect between those who conceive the vision and those who must turn it into reality. Invariably, when businesses conduct internal effectiveness surveys, the allegation of poor communication is usually one of the top three problems identified. To achieve the right results faster, leaders must continually cascade their vision down through the organization (small or large) so every team member understands and supports it. This is not an easy thing to do, which is why so many organizations struggle with it. Communication challenges are found in every nook and cranny of our lives, from meetings to email, from text to voicemail, and each challenge impacts execution.
Clarity, focus and execution are simple distinctions on the surface, but they are complex to achieve. The benefits of acquiring them, however, are undeniable. You will get the right results, faster!