When is the right time for Leadership?

past to futureFuture, Present, Past. When it comes to leadership they’re all important. Let me tell you why I say focus first the future, then the present, then the past.

When you are leading a team the first question they will have is, “If we follow you where will be going?” Your team views the future possibilities with you as their leader.

The second question they have is, “Now that we are following you do we like where we are going?” Your team views the impact of you as their leader in the present.

Their last question is “Now that we have followed you, do we like where we have ended up?” Your team views the past and what they learned that helped them become what they are today.

Future

Think of being a new leader on an existing team or leading a new team as a job interview. Your new team already has expectations of what they want in a leader. Each team member will have their own particular requirements specific to their circumstances, but in the end they all want to be successful.   How are you going to do that?

The first thing you do when you start leading a team is to share stories about your past experience and success in accomplishing similar goals in similar situations. This is so the team can be comforted that you fit their requirements of a leader – you have the experience to lead them to future success.

 The past is where you learned the lesson, the future is where you apply the lesson

 

Present

Now that your new team trusts that you can lead them to future success, they need to see it in action in the present. There are two ways that you will serve your team:

You first help your team succeed by demonstrating how to accomplish each goal; you are their model for success. Then you serve them by providing your guidance, teaching, and resources so they can accomplish the goals on their own.

The future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.

Past  

This last view of a leader comes when your team members are all successful on their own. They can look back with gratitude at all you have poured into them. But the view of the past is only for a moment as they now prepare for their own team’s views of them – future, present and past.

“Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present towards the future.” – Denis Waitly

The Three Cs of Leadership Success

Leadership successHow can you achieve leadership success? Bill Walsh, former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers said, “The score will take care of itself.” His teams were known for focusing on the basics and not the score. This advice coming from one of the winningest NFL head coaches in history.

You too can achieve Leadership Success by following these three C’s:

 

CLARITY Why are you in that position, at that company, at this time? What is your purpose? What are you going to accomplish? How are you going to get there?

Have it-You have to know what you are supposed to do. Without clarity of purpose you cannot lead.

“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity”- Francois Gautier

Write it-A dream remains a dream until it is written down into a goal. You aren’t really committed until you put pen to paper.

“Your mind, while blessed with permanent memory, is cursed with lousy recall. Written goals provide clarity. By documenting your dreams, you must think about the process of achieving them.” - Gary Ryan Blair

Speak it-A leader has to lead other people to achieve their goals. Unless you can communicate your purpose you will lack followers.

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.”- Jim Rohn

COURAGE We all have fears that can keep us from moving forward. What is your fear? What has been holding you back? Move forward.

Admit it-Fear is a normal emotion. You can’t deal with it unless you admit it’s there.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear” – Mark Twain

Face it-The more you think about fear the stronger it gets. Stop thinking and start doing.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

Conquer it-All your fears won’t disappear, but you can succeed anyway.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

CONSISTENCY Find something that works and do it right – over and over.

Try It-Success comes from consistently trying. Don’t just take my word for it, test it out yourself.

“For the novice runner, I’d say to give yourself at least 2 months of consistently running several times a week at a conversational pace before deciding if you want to stick with it. Consistence is the most important aspect of training…” – Frank Shorter

Do it-Once you see the positive results, keep doing what got you there.

“Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius. “An Wang, the founder of Wang Laboratories

 Achieve it-Like Bill Walsh said, “Let the score take care of itself.”

“In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.” – Tom Seaver

It takes two to persevere

Charlie Davies PerseveranceCharlie Davies scored both goals in the New England Revolution’s 2-2 draw vs. New York to win the 2014 Eastern Conference MLS Championship on aggregate, 4-3 this Saturday.

Davies started the Conference semifinal series off for New England by scoring 2 goals against Columbus in his MLS playoff debut. He became the first player in New England’s history to score twice in a postseason game. With two more on Saturday, Davies moved into third place all-time on the New England’s playoff scoring list.

This weekend’s performance by Charlie Davies was remarkable for any professional soccer player. But as Davies said about his performance, “For me, personally, it’s unimaginable really,”

In 2009, Charlie Davies would have thought he was destined for this type of performance. That is until October 2009, when after helping the US National soccer team qualify for the World Cup, he was involved in a car accident that left him with severe injuries. According to reports at the time, Davies sustained injuries to his, “fibula, tibia and femur of his right leg (stabilizing the limb required insertion of two titanium rods); tore a ligament in his left knee; fractured his left elbow, eye socket and nose; suffered serious head trauma; and lacerated his bladder.”

Thoughts after the accident were more about if he would walk again. No one was thinking that he would play soccer again. No one that is except Charlie Davies himself.

Charlie Davies chose to persevere. He would do whatever it would take to play soccer at the professional level again. It was later as he was able to regain his strength and begin the long process of re-training, that he said:

“I appreciate how hard this game is now. You can rebuild your body, but you must also rediscover your form, rhythm, confidence and consistency.”

Persevering through a major setback like this isn’t easy. Davies discovered that he could train to rebuild his abilities, but what would take more time is rebuilding his confidence and consistent performance. To do this he needed to continue training until it all came back. He also discovered that he needed people other than himself to help – he needed a coach and a team of players who wanted to see him succeed.

Let’s see how Confidence, Consistent Performance, and Continued Training along with people who want to see you succeed can help you persevere though your setbacks:

What you have to do to persevere

First you have to decide that you want to comeback. Decide what your vision of success is. Decide that you have the passion to succeed. Decide that you have the drive to see it through. Then go.

Rebuild your Confidence – Coming back from a setback works best if you celebrate the small steps that show a glimmer of your former self. Your confidence will return one small success at a time.

“I can feel my old self come out more and more in trainings.” – Charlie Davies

Achieve Consistent Performance – Remember what it was like when you first started the climb to your former glory. You began to string together a few success, than more and more until it became normal for you to succeed every time. Consistent performance comes in steps. First you have to think and succeed, than you succeed without thinking.

“The old me was there, just not often.” – Charlie Davies

Continue Training until it all comes back – Once you decide to comeback from a setback, realize that you will have more setbacks on your road to the comeback. The advice on this one is pretty simple: Just Keep Going.

“Through it all I just continued to fight and stay with it and things have turned out for the best.” – Charlie Davies

What others have to do to help you persevere

Coming back from a setback is no more something you can do on your own than when you achieved success the first time. We all achieve success with other people, and through other people. This is no different.

Rebuild your Confidence – You need others around you to remind you of what you were and what you can become when you persevere.

“They’ve really seen the potential that I have and they want me to succeed and that goes a long way. That’s why I’m playing the way I am now.” – Charlie Davies

Achieve Consistent Performance – You need others around you to provide a consistent, stable environment for you to try and fail so you can try and succeed.

“We gave him a stable environment, but he was fighting for his position every day, from when his injury happened to the entire 2014.” – Jay Heaps, Head Coach New England Revolution

Continue Training until it all comes back – You need others around you to push you to Just Keep Going.

“I think what’s really important, the guys in this locker room have pushed me since I’ve been here.” – Charlie Davies

Preview of future coming attractions

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future coming attractionsMy family enjoys the whole experience of seeing movies at the local theatre. We like to arrive early to take in the atmosphere of the posters for all the movies that are playing, get our popcorn and other snacks, and find our way to one of the seemingly endless doors that lead to the big screens. Once seated we wait in anticipation for the show to start.

For us, half of the show is the preview of future coming attractions, the other half is the feature presentation. We like to see the previews for two reasons that apply to successful leadership. First, it allows us to make our personal future plans when we know where the industry is going. Second, it give us a glimpse into what to expect in the present (the feature film) because the future previews are geared towards what is thought to be the expectations of the audience.

Here are four reasons that successful leaders provide a preview of future attractions:

Leaders know the future is inevitable, Successful leaders understand that the future is coming whether we want it to or not. C.S. Lewis said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever they do, whoever they are.”

Tomorrow comes for the entire world. In fact for some it has already come. Peanuts comic strip creator Charles Schultz once joked, “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today.   It is already tomorrow in Australia.”

Planning for the future doesn’t guarantee success, but it does give you a definite plan of action to follow which brings a much higher chance for success than not.

Leaders envision the future. Now, in the present, is the time to dream of your future. Create a vision of what your perfect world would be then make plans to reach it. Eleanor Roosevelt told us, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Some of the people thought to be the wisest were also the biggest dreamers. Albert Einstein, the physics genius once said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” And Winston Churchill, the former prime minister of England during WWII said, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”

Leaders plan for the future. The only part of time that is already written is history. You are living today and tomorrow has yet to come. You have choices to make that will determine your future success.

“Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” - William Jennings Bryan.

Remember, the future will come whether you plan or not. You will play a part in the future that is created, so why not play a part in creating it?

“Control your own destiny or someone else will.” - Jack Welch

Leaders lead to the future. So the future is coming, you created a dream of what it can look like and you have plans to reach it. The final step is to take people to your dream. The best leaders don’t shout “GO”, they shout “FOLLOW.” Robert F. Kennedy taught us, “It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to task.”

So if you want to lead your team to a successful future, do it now. As Pope John Paul II said, “The future starts today, not tomorrow.”

Negotiation – basic assumptions that work.

Mutual benefit or win-win concept of handshaking drawn with chalk on a blackboardYou’re involved in negotiation more than you think. I am not talking about large scale, multi-million dollar contracts, or even buying a house or car; I am talking about everyday life. We negotiate at various levels all the time: setting electronic game limits with your children, where to eat dinner, meetings at work. These are all times where we negotiate.

 

Here are a few basic assumptions that I use with every negotiation, big or small:

- Everyone wants to be successful.

- Winning doesn’t have to mean someone has to lose.

- Most people agree on a positive end state but may disagree on how to get there.

With those assumptions in mind, these four steps will lead you through a successful negotiation:

Before negotiation, do your research. Stick to the facts and only the facts. There is no room for emotion in fact gathering. Now I am not saying this is easy, but it is needed. Howard Baker, former U.S. Senator and Presidential Chief of Staff, was known as the “Great Conciliator” for his success in brokering comprise and passing legislation. He said, “The most difficult thing in any negotiation…is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts.”

What is the desired end state? Keep your focus forward. Remember your goal is to accomplish something good here.

What has happened? What has gone well, what didn’t go as planned? Be ready to discuss these facts later.

What didn’t happen? What items didn’t get done at all? Be ready to admit if you or your team missed something.

What needs to happen? What has to be accomplished to reach the desired end state? This is not a list of who has to do it, just a list of what.

Begin negotiation by confirming alignment on the desired end state. It is much easier to picture what things look like when they are done and working then it is to picture how to get there.

Everything begins with a purpose. What are we trying to accomplish (not how, that comes next)? It is rare that two parties can’t agree on a mutually beneficial end state – even if it is just words at the moment.

“Begin with the end in mind.” ­– Stephen Covey

Continue negotiation by moving through the roadblocks to success by asking questions that draw out the issues. Listening is one of the most powerful tools in a negotiation.

Listen to the other party state their case and do not take anything they say personally – you should already know these issues anyway from your research. Brian Koslow, President of Strategic Coaching, Inc. and Best Selling Author advises that personalities can cloud your vision:

“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.”

When you have elicited all the issues from the other party it is once again your time to talk. At this point you should share the facts you learned that describe what has been working that is leading you both closer to the end state. Only after you do this should you restate what isn’t working in a factual basis with no judgment or blame. But ready to accept responsibility if you or your team dropped the ball.

Complete negotiations by restating the desired end state and the original plan to achieve it. Restate what has been done that worked, then discuss what has not worked. Lastly suggest and ask for alternatives to get to the agreed upon desired end state.

Think of this part of negotiation as asking for the sale, and the desired end state as your product. Remember, selling is a process of matching the needs of your customer with the benefits of your product. If you believe in your product and think of the other party in a negotiation as your customer, than you must ask for the sale. As Zig Ziglar said, “We miss 100 percent of the sales we don’t ask for.”

 

Leadership = Purpose, Plan, People, and Priorities

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Leadership is purpose, plan, people, and prioritiesWhether you are leading a team of thousands, hundreds, tens, or just yourself, these four P’s of leadership are essential for success. Without them you and your team are like a boat without a rudder, drifting on the sea in an unknown direction. Leadership is about choosing the destination and navigating the ship on the right course.

Dennis Conner is a four time winner of the America’s Cup sailing competition. He is known as “Mister America’s Cup,” for his leadership in the sport, raising it from amateur to professional status. He instituted year round practice and physical conditioning to raise his team to the top.

 

Conner covered all of the four P’s of leadership in his run of four wins, and is quoted as saying, “My goal in sailing isn’t to be brilliant or flashy in individual races, just to be consistent over the long run.”

Consistent success requires leadership in all areas.

Purpose

How do you know if you have successfully achieved your purpose? You first need to know the purpose of your team. Before you begin to lead a team you need to clearly understand where you and the team will be when success comes. Only then can you articulate the greater good to your team members so they understand where they will be when the team is successful.

“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose” – Napoleon Hill.

 Purpose is the cornerstone of leadership. It is that which supports all activity. It is like the North Star for the sailor. It can be counted on to lead you in the right direction.

Plan

Once you are clear on your purpose, you must plan a course to reach that purpose. Great leadership requires that the leader navigate the team to success.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso

Sailors understand that the wind and waves can shift in a moment. Successful sailors know how to adjust their sails and sometimes their direction to make use of any wind conditions to achieve their purpose.

When obstacles arise, the course may need to be changed so that the purpose is successfully achieved. Continually adjusting the plan to stay on course is true leadership

Purpose, and a plan to reach your purpose, are essential to successful leadership. These two alone, though, are quickly found to have their limits. Long term success only comes when the last two of the four P’s of leadership are added.  

People

You brought your team where they are today, but you can’t bring them any further on your own. No matter how clear your purpose is, no matter the strength of your plan, if you want to extend the positive results beyond what you are accomplishing now, you will need to make room for others to share in the success of your leadership journey. You must surround yourself with the right people.

Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.

-Those whom you follow must be capable and willing to invest their time helping you grow.

-Your peers must be true partners who, like you, look for opportunities to complete as opposed to compete.

-Those whom you lead must have a teachable heart and a drive to learn.

In all cases there should be an open exchange of what each person does best. What can you fulfill in each other?

Priorities

I summarize the first three P’s of leadership like this: Achieve your purpose by executing your plan through your people.

So why is there a fourth P of leadership having to do with priorities? Because our dreams, plans, and goals should be bigger than any solution we can imagine.

In order to get started finding that solution, boil down the activities to the smallest step you can imagine. What do I know my team and I can do tomorrow?

That is what priorities are for – To get everyone moving in the same direction.

First, eliminate what’s not important.

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.” – Lin Yu Tang

Then, focus on what is important.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen R. Covey

Imitate or Innovate? You can do both!

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Imitate or InnovateLeaders have a choice to make. Should they imitate what has already been successful done, or innovate away from the past and chart their own course?

Can a career be summed up in three words: Imitate or Innovate? In my career I have found that the answer to the question on whether to imitate or innovate is – it depends.

Imitation is preferred when you are following success. Innovation is preferred when you are defining success. Sometimes you job is to do it the right way; sometimes it’s to invent the right way.

Imitate and learn, Imitation has its purpose in learning from those that have successfully accomplished what you desire.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.”

And Niccolo Maachiavelli wrote in his book The Prince, “A prudent man will always try to follow in the footsteps of great men and imitate those who have been truly outstanding, so that, if he is not quite as skillful as they, at least some of their ability may rub off on him.”

Imitate and leverage. However, we all have different strengths, our own style of leadership. For that individual part of us, innovation is the choice.

Tom Peters summed up the question on imitation or innovation by saying, “Swipe from the best, then adapt.”  

You don’t always have to do it differently, you can win by just doing it better.

“Keep on the outlook for novel and interesting ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you are currently working on.” - Thomas Edison

Imitate and lead. I know that everything I set out to accomplish is possible, not because I know how to do everything, but because somewhere, someone has either already done what I want to do or has the skill and knowledge to accomplish what I want to do.

Leaders are successful when they enable their teams to use the best of each person on the team to achieve more than any one person on the team.

Marcus Aurelius said, “Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.”

For those who are at the fork in the road and have to decide if they should imitate or innovate, I say, imitate what you have learned from others that worked, but innovate in your own style of implementing those successes.

 

 

How to seek and find opportunity

opportunity trainThe only door knocking you will hear from opportunity is the rattling of the train of success as it passes by. Opportunity doesn’t wait till you are ready, it’s here and gone. Only those that are in a position to grab hold of it get to ride it to success.

“One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Seek out opportunity, don’t wait for it to come and get you – it won’t.

Here are the 4 steps to successfully seek and find opportunity:

1 – Trains have a sign that tells you where they are heading so you know which one to board – the train that takes you to your destination. This means that sometimes you are letting other trains pass you by as you wait for the right one. There are many opportunities in life – not all are equal. You need a dream of success in your mind at all times to recognize the right opportunity when it comes. Only grab hold of the opportunities that bring you closer to your dream.

“Learn to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.” ­­– John Maxwell

2 – Trains leave from the train station. If you want to catch a train, you get to the station – sounds simple.   In the same way, opportunity comes where it wants to, not where you wish it would. Now that you have a dream of success clearly pictured in your mind, you should get to the place where your dream happens. If you want to be a professional musician – join a local band. If you want to be a writer – start writing and connect with other writers. If you want to be pastor – volunteer at your church. If you want to be a doctor – study hard and get good grades so you might qualify for medical school. Place yourself where the opportunity that brings you closer to your dream is likely to be.

“Sometimes opportunities float right past your nose. Work hard, apply yourself, and be ready. When an opportunity comes you can grab it.” – Julie Andrews

3 – Trains leave at fixed times, from specific platforms and require the right ticket to board. When the right train comes you need to be prepared for all three of these. Do the work that needs to be done to prepare for when the opportunity comes that will lead you to your dream.

“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” – Tony Robbins

I have heard it said that successful people seem to be in the right place at the right time. I find that lots of other people were in the same place and weren’t as successful – why? They didn’t recognize the opportunity because they didn’t have a picture of their dream or a plan to take action when it came.

 

Successful communication results in action

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communication the language of leadershipIt is the responsibility of leaders to communicate the vision that leads to success. It is also the leader’s job to ensure that their communication is heard, understood and implemented.

Some leaders believe that they only need to “Show and Tell” what is expected and it should be accomplished. Some leaders go one step further and think as long as people “Look and Hear” they are paying attention and success will follow.

What these leaders might not know is what Bill Cosby once said, “Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing.”

Showing and telling isn’t enough; looking and hearing isn’t enough either. What leaders need for success is seeing and listening which brings understanding and action.

Here are three roadblocks to seeing and listening that you can overcome:

1 – Your team members are not ready to accept your vision

Just like you prepare the ground to accept the seed, you must prepare your team to accept your vision. Similarly, once the seed is planted, you water the ground to encourage the plant to take root; you must also reinforce your vision.

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” - Robertson Davies

There is a saying among presenters that goes like this: “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them.” These three steps are the keys to success to ensure your message is heard and understood. These steps work for every form of communication, not just speeches.

Tell them what you are going to tell them: In this step you are preparing the audience to comprehend your message. Your goal is to make your message as understandable as possible. Tell the audience what they should look for in your presentation by outlining the points you are going to make.

Tell them: This is the step where you plant the seed. Following the points you outlined in the first step, you add stories, jokes, and quotes that support your premise.

Tell them what you told them: In this final wrap up, you are reinforcing your points to take root by giving a call to action to use what they heard today to make a difference.

2 – You are not at the level that your team members need

In his autobiography, Will Rogers said, “The fellow that can only see a week ahead is always the popular fellow, for he is looking with the crowd. But the one that can see years ahead, he has a telescope but he can’t make anybody believe he has it.”

By definition, great leaders look from the top of the mountain, always searching for the future success of the team. From the top of the mountain you see far and wide but without great detail. It is only from the ground that the detail becomes clear. If you want the attention to be turned from you to the vision, you have to come down from the mountain.

Yes, you may be smart and really know what needs to be done, but the goal here is not to show how smart you are, it is to communication that wisdom to your team.  William Butler Yeats gave good advice when he said, “Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.”

My advice to visionary leaders is: “Don’t just shout your vision from the top floor, live it on the office floor.”

3 – You have not managed expectations

When you ask people to follow you, what do you think they expect to happen? Great leaders are great because they have a history of being great. They have demonstrated time and again that following them leads to success to everyone on the team.

Without a history of success to draw upon, your team will set its expectations on the history they know – the past. You have to create success in small ways before you are allowed to ask for dedication in big ways. There is no better way to remove doubt or fear than through the observation of success.

“People see and hear actions and words that fulfill their expectations.” – Denis G. McLaughlin

There are three age old steps you should follow to build small successes and set the right expectations:

1 – Do it for them – Go ahead, jump in the water first and show them it’s ok for swimming.

2 – Do it with them – The first time you skydive it’s in tandem, strapped to an expert.

 3 – Watch them do it – So you can applaud and cheer.

Remember leaders, show and tell doesn’t guarantee success; only understanding and action can do that.

Planning for a successful career

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soccer planning diagramI have watched my son play soccer since he was young. I have to admit, all of these years it seemed like a lot of running and kicking but I never caught on to the planning that goes on before and during every match.

This last year was different. My son started playing high school soccer and his coach is a former international semi-professional player. This was also the year of the World Cup that is played every four years, and we watched every game we could. We attended several professional matches in person. My son even bought the Xbox version of the World Cup and began the arduous process of teaching me how soccer is really played.

Here is what I learned. The successful soccer teams plan for success.  They have plans for offense and plans for defense. On offense they position themselves across the field so they can pass and have opportunities to score a goal. They plan each play so that each player is in the right position to make or receive a pass, and if that plan does not work, they pass the ball back to the defense or the goalie and start a new plan. On defense each team plans the location of their players to provide opportunities to block the pass and switch to offense. In soccer this all happens very fast, but for the successful teams it is all planned.

I learned that this level of planning extends beyond each goal and each match. It is also done with an eye on the season’s rankings and for accumulating points to qualify for the next World Cup. I hadn’t realized how much soccer was like planning for a successful career. Small wins, lead to bigger wins, which lead to the biggest win.

I have seen first-hand in both areas now that Winston Churchill was right when he said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”

How have you done planning for a successful career? Many find themselves out of school in their twenties with their first job and no plan; wondering what direction to take in their career. Or maybe you have been working for ten or fifteen years and don’t feel like you have your dream job. What can you do to get on track and have a successful career?

Here’s the secret to planning for a successful career:

Begin With the End in Mind  For soccer the end could be the World Cup. For Landon Donovan, all-time leading scorer for the U.S. National Team it was something more. He said, “Most of us are in this more than just for playing soccer. We’re in it for the bigger goal, to move it along for the next generation.” Donovan wanted to win, but he also wanted to broaden the popularity of the sport in the U.S.

You have to decide what your ultimate goal is so that you can make decisions that will help you reach it.

In his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey uses the analogy of climbing a ladder as activities we undertake. We often hear about people who are climbing the ladder of success. Covey’s main point in this area is before you begin climbing you have to define success.

If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.” - Stephen Covey.

A successful career begins with defining what you want to accomplish with that career. Do you want to have reached a certain position? Do you want to have worked for a certain company? Do you want to be known for having helped others achieve success? What will say success to you?

Plan short steps that move you in the right direction. In soccer, you only reach the World Cup if you win enough matches to qualify. To win matches you have to score goals and stop your opponent from scoring goals. Sounds simple.

But winning all you plan doesn’t always happen. That is why a good Plan B, is just as important as a good Plan A. James Yorke once said, “The most successful people are those who are good at plan B.”

So go ahead and begin planning for a successful career. It doesn’t matter if the first steps you take don’t necessarily work out. You will learn, adapt and move forward. Remember a goal without a plan is just a wish, and a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

You make progress towards a successful career when you take short steps to move you in the right direction. What do you need to know to move closer to your goal? Who do you need to know to move closer to your goal? What should you do first to move closer to your goal?

Commit to attaining the short steps.  Having goals and plans to reach them is just the beginning. You have to execute your plans every day. Argentine soccer great Lionel Messi said, “You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it.” Make a commitment to do what it takes to achieve the plans you decide on.

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

You achieve a successful career by making the investment in hard work.  What are you willing to do to achieve your goal?  What are you willing to give up to achieve your goal?

Success in soccer or in your career or in anything you want to accomplish in life, only comes trough planning for success.

 

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