In our introductory Strategic Grit blog post we promised a springboard for clarifying the future you want to create and bringing it to life. Through our Strategic Grit blog collaboration, we’ll share insights about both a get-it-done mindset AND plans of action for success. We’ll provide examples from our methods that allow for unexpected change, which makes them adaptable and valuable for chaotic times such as these.
So, if you are looking forward to 2021 and thinking How do we even start to plan for all these unknowns?!?, read on for some practical ideas.
Jennifer: It would be easy to get hung up on the long list of external factors over which you have no control. But focusing on the obstacles will never get you to where you want to go. The key is to clearly envision the future you do want, then to focus on what you can do to get there.
So: Start by taking time to vividly imagine and articulate the future you want to create. This is a critical step in making real change happen.
One methodology I use with organizations and coalitions is Strategic Doing™, an agile approach to collaboratively tackling complex problems. At the heart of Strategic Doing is what we call the Framing Question. This is a tool that helps people contemplate and picture the desired future, that invites curiosity and enthusiasm, that serves as a beacon of light shining through the darkness of the unknown.
An example of a Framing Question is this: Imagine that, in December 2021, our organization is thriving. What would that look like?
Of course, this example is a generic question; effective real-world Framing Questions are compelling and unique to the circumstances. But the answers to the Framing Question establish a vision of success. Once we are able to vividly imagine our future, the Framing Question challenges us to imagine how we can make it reality.
THIS is where action and change begin. Now the task is to rough out the path to that future reality. What are the actions needed to move toward that future vision? And how will each person do their part?
Here’s where the grit comes in.
Holly: Similar to Jennifer’s Framing Question, I always start my consulting work in Mental Toughness with a basic inquiry to clarify the end goal, what I call the Product Goal. Here are some questions I ask when trying to define the Product Goal:
- What does success look like to you?
- If you have achieved this goal, what is the result?
- What does your ideal life look like 6 months from now?
(These questions can be applied to an individual, a team, or an organization.)
Once we’ve explored the answers to these questions, we talk about the current state of activity to understand the gap between our current reality and our ideal reality. We often discuss why we are naturally motivated to stay in our comfort zones, even when we know there are good reasons for change. We work together to identify the actions that will generate the most opportunity for growth and success, and we examine ways to increase self-awareness, build trust among team members and supervisors, establish accountability, and boost optimism.
Mentally tough and gritty individuals increase the likelihood of success by taking a long-term goal (a Product Goal) and chunking it into smaller, attainable goals (Process Goals). Successful people understand the difference between a goal and a plan. A goal remains relatively fixed, but the plan can and should be flexible. Regular check-ins allow for tweaks to our plan and changes in behavior—which keep us focused on our Product Goal.
A sailor, for example, never sails his or her boat directly from point A to point B. Factors such as wind and water conditions must be considered, and so the good sailor adjusts his or her route at regular intervals, otherwise the wind or currents can take them off course and potentially into real danger.
Jennifer and Holly: We would love to hear from you about your own process for clarifying your future vision and ensuring success. What might your organization use as a Framing Question to navigate 2021? What goals are you setting for yourself or your team in 2021 and how will you support achieving them?
In our next blog post we will take a deeper dive into bringing your future vision to life. In the meantime, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with your questions and comments.
We’d love to hear from you.
Thank you for spending a bit of time with us!
Jennifer and Holly
Jennifer helps businesses, nonprofits, and community coalitions with evolution management: tackling complex problems, determining strategic direction, and taking action to create a new future. She is a Certified Strategic Doing Workshop Leader.
Holly is a trusted partner to individuals and teams, helping them forge and refine purposeful leadership and authentic collaboration to successfully navigate both planned routes and unexpected detours. She is a certified Human Resources Professional and Mental Toughness Trainer.