There are three very specific elements to making direction decisions. Get these right and the quality and conviction of your decisions will 10x in a very short space of time. I wrote about the importance of paying attention to direction and I talked more contextually about the idea of direction. In summary I wrote:
- Everyone is going somewhere in every area of life.
- Direction beats intention every time. (Attribution: Andy Stanley)
- You must decide on direction before taking action.
You can be ‘busy’ and ‘full’ and ‘have lots on’ but none of that matters if it’s taking you to a place you don’t want to go. Activity doesn’t change destination. Direction does. Only direction.
The key is to make activity live inside the direction you have chosen.
Try this by responding to these thoughts on the assumption that nothing changes from now for at least 12 months, if your brave try it on for five years, ten even.
- Where is your mindset taking you?
- Where is your physical health taking you?
- Where is your emotional health taking you?
- Will you have deeper intimacy with your partner?
- Will you have invested into your family legacy?
- Will you be able to do you best work?
- Are you better positioned to serve? Leverage influence? Make an impact?
- Will you be closer to your dreams?
- Are you more the person you intend to be?
- Would you be delighted to meet you?
Direction determines destination. Every single time.
Direction has three fundamental components – each one combines to give you a place to assess, a place to decide and a place to act.
Direction Fundamental #1
Mission – Where to. A compelling why.
It’s so profoundly useful and potentially overstated that you need to start with why.
And, you need to start with why.
Because it answers the question of purpose and reason for being. In life and leadership very little is as dissatisfying as meaningless work, purposeless relationships, ineffective activity. Motivation drops, disengagement grows, cynicism breeds, negativity results, departures develop. None of it good. Having a compelling mission can be the starting point of reversing that.
Direction Fundamental #2
Means – How To. Options to move.
We live 800km south of our wider family. To get to see them we have three main ways.
We can fly. Short, sweet, fun. We really enjoy this experience.
We can drive. About a day. We have some rituals we do as a family, heading up and then back, we love it and really look forward to it.
The train, I’ve not done it but it’s on the list. We love seeing the changing scenery pass us by. We’ve enjoyed doing this overseas so I’m looking forward to it in my own backyard as well.
The mission is the same. Go and see the family. The means changes based on what we want to experience on the way. How much time we have and what we want to make memorable as part of the process.
It’s why you have an offsite and not an office meeting. It’s why you’d walk around the block for that one on one and not sit in the meeting room. It’s why you’d invite a colleague to come with you and share the journey, experience the room, meet the client, debrief an event. The mission might be clear but HOW you choose to make progress may change regularly.
The beauty of a clear why allows you to innovate you’re how.
Direction Fundamental #3
Map – A Way To. Alternative Routes.
I have had long term trust issues with all the Map Apps I’ve been using. The reason is despite their algorithm I believe I know better. It’s safe to say that over time between the feedback from taking longer to get places than intended and ‘conversations’ with my wife I have established a more trusting relationship with them (and they’ve improved haven’t they??!) The beauty of a clear destination and a selected mode of transport means the options as the the WAY become more apparent. I narrow down the number of decisions I have to make the better I become at the mission and the means.
If I drive north I can take the most direct route along the freeway or I can spend some time inland and enjoy the Canola fields, lakes, rivers and mountains. Both ways are great. The map lets me choose the way to get there. I took a left off the freeway and Megan looks over at me and say “It’s going to take an extra 10 mins, are you ok with that?” “Yes, it means we get to go past the park for the kids.”
We still got to our family. In a reasonable time frame. And we made memories along the way. When you have mission clear and means available to you there are options as to how you would see that become a reality. The freeway or the park, or a combination.
In life and leadership sometimes we take the ‘long way round’ because that gives us time to engage, converse, mentor, listen, get feedback, give feedback. It all matters. It matters about being intentional even more.
What’s the payoff?
- When you know your what and have chosen your how you are able to start.
- When you know your how and have selected your way you are able to plan.
- When you know your why and have selected your way you are able to adapt.
When leaders are able to start, plan and adapt they are best positioned to place people properly, use resources effectively and fulfil mission enthusiastically.
That’s why direction essentials are essential.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.