Identify Your Values, Create the Vision, Then Get To Work!
By Ed Hart, Director, Center for Family Business, Cal State Fullerton Mihaylo College of Business and Economics
“See it, feel it, do it.” – Tom House
Success, in my opinion, is based on three simple questions. Success in life, in work, in relationships – it all comes down to these questions.
Are you ready? No, that wasn’t one of the questions. Here you go.
What do you want? Can you see it? Are you willing to work to get it?
In life, in your career, in your relationships – what is most important to you? What are you doing today to get you to where, or what, you want? Can you see it? What is standing in the way? My belief is that people do not succeed, or get what they want, for one of three reasons. They don’t know what they want; they can’t see what they want; or they aren’t willing to do the work to get what they want.
If you truly value something, you will do what you can to protect it, or to obtain it. But if you can’t see what you are seeking, if you have no experience of what it feels like to have it, all the work in the world probably will not get you any closer to obtaining the goal than if you simply did nothing. Many people know what they want, and sit around dreaming about it all day long, but do not work. Others bust their humps all day, but really don’t have a vision of what they want. They just work and work and work, yet are no closer to happiness.
I know some people who obtain houses, cars, boats, take extravagant vacations, and work tirelessly to be able to afford these things, yet they are not happy.
I heard a quote recently that says “Happiness brings success.” Too often, we twist that around to “Success brings happiness.” My feeling is that, to be truly happy, we must know what is important to us, see our lives surrounded by the things, people, or belief systems that are important to us, and then work to get (and stay) there.
I play golf. Not as often, or as well, as I would like, but since I was about 12 years old, I have enjoyed playing golf, first with my Dad, then my friends, and now, also, with my wife. Many members of my family play golf, as well.
Other than a year on a local college golf team, and a few junior tournaments here and there as a teenager, the joy and recreation of golf are what have kept me going back for more, even though I have never been good enough to make a living at it. Being a great golfer was not a value of mine, so I did not put forth the effort to be a great golfer. I could see myself being great, but it wasn’t so important to me that I put in the hours of practice to get there.
One life lesson that I learned from playing golf since I was 12 was about the power of visualization. Often, after I have lined up my shot, I will take a couple of practice swings to get the feel for what I want to do when I step up to the ball, and then I will close my eyes before the “live” swing, and visualize what I am wanting to accomplish with the shot.
I can’t tell you that it works 100% of the time, or else I would be making millions on the PGA tour! What I will tell you, however, is that it works more often than it doesn’t.
Everything is created mentally, and spiritually, before it is created physically.
Look around at the buildings near you. The developer didn’t just show up and start building. He had a plan, an idea, a blueprint, and many visions of what he wanted to build before the first shovel broke ground, and the foundation was poured.
The same holds true for anything we do in life. If we allow ourselves the time to ponder, visualize, or even meditate on the results we are after, we will dramatically increase our chances of success.
When we focus on avoiding the sand trap instead of on hitting the green, the results are often disastrous, for it is impossible to think negative thoughts in a positive way.
Make sure your goals are specific and precise. I’ve heard it said that our goals must be SMART. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time bound.
“I want to make money” is not a SMART goal. ”I want to make $100,000 by December 31, 2012, is a better example of a SMART goal. It is specific, measurable, could be attainable, produces results, and has a fixed timeframe.
As we visualize the results we are after, being SMART in the way in which we visualize, we will begin to see the results that we are after, in our personal, family, professional, financial, spiritual, and all other aspects of our lives.
So, change your mindset from “I want to hit a nice shot”, or “I hope I don’t hit this one into the water”, to “I am putting this shot 6 feet from the hole”, and you will start seeing the results that will bring dramatic improvement to your life.
Visualization allows us to see exactly what we want before we create it – it keeps our focus on what is most important to us in that moment.
As Curt Carlson, chairman of the Carlson Companies, once noted, “Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take your eye off the target.”
As the Director of the Center for Family Business here at Cal State Fullerton, my days are spent working with family-owned companies throughout Southern California. I have the privilege of meeting with leaders, founders, and executives of these companies on a regular basis, and the ones who are the most successful share many common traits, one of which is the power, and patience, to see things in their mind before they created them physically. Of course, there have been obstacles, and the occasional detours, but ultimately one characteristic that they all share is that they have kept the vision in their minds of where they want to be. They have not lost focus of the dream. With that focus, they have worked to get there.
Over 70% of all companies in America are family-owned, so chances are you either work for, or with, a family business in your day-to-day dealings. One of the characteristics I see in America’s best businesses, family-owned or not, is that they have an established set of core values – principles and beliefs that drive everything they do. Successful family businesses are known for sticking with their values, and operating their entire organization around those values. Many people prefer to do business with family companies for just that reason…they like the values for which these companies stand.
Core values are the foundation of any successful organization. As we identify what our core values are, we then visualize how the organization, or project, or event, will look, based on these values. If one of our core values is discipline, then our company will be known for how disciplined we are. If a core value of an organization is integrity, then that organization will have a reputation for keeping their promises, every single time. Once we establish the core values, we then visualize how our company will operate, driven by these values, and then we execute the plan.
When a professional golfer sets her sights on being the best golfer in the world, she sees what it will look like to see her name at the top of the world golf rankings, to sink the winning putt at the US Open, or to live in a big house that her earnings have created. To get there, her core values had better be centered on work, patience, diligence, and fitness. Sure, there are many other values that will get her there, but until she establishes what her core values are, all the visualizing in the world won’t do anything for her if she doesn’t value the effort it will take to get there.
Just as success in your company, or career, is based on the efforts you have put into it, your ability to see what it is you want has played a partnership role in your work. Successful businesses (family and traditional), from my research and experience, are led by people who are consistent in their core values, are able to see their values driving the business, and are gifted in hiring and/or developing people who share these same values and vision.
So, if you are not where you want to be today, in any aspect of your life, ask yourself these three questions: What do you want? Can you see it? Are you willing to work to get it? If you can answer these questions specifically, and using SMART goals, you are well on your way to the success that happiness brings.