In July 2006, I immersed myself in a professional development process where I discovered a whole new level of skills in personal transformation, and how to help others make significant changes. I learnt some great foundational coaching skills. This two-year period of training helped converge both the professional and ministry backgrounds I had, and also opened up a way to make personal growth a disciplined part of how I managed my life. In short, it changed me forever.
At this training, the doorway of personal transformation was opened wide by one question that my trainer Joe Pane asked us. It was one of the better personal development questions I have learnt over the years, and one that continues to help me make the most of any year.
Joe asked us:
“Imagine it’s the last day of next year and you’re walking down the street and you bump into yourself. Who would you need to BE, and what would you need to have DONE, to be delighted to meet you?”
What a great question!
Personal development is all about who you want to become. Your doing flows from your being. This principle works across many aspects of life professionally, personally, spiritually and relationally. Deciding who you want to become is the precursor to activity. Alice in Wonderland didn’t really know where she wanted to end up, and was reliably informed that it didn’t therefore matter which way she went. When you don’t know who you want to be it doesn’t much matter, the pathway you take. When you do the level of focus, intentionality and drive goes up immeasurably.
This question can help you plan your next year in three major ways.
Firstly, it helps define who you want to BE at the end. When you have a clear destination, you can begin to move with intentionality towards it. When you can ‘look out the window’ and define the future, you are creating a blueprint, for your future. Stephen Covey talks about ‘all things being created twice’ THIS IS THE FIRST CREATION. The mental image of who you want to be; the creation of what could be. The privilege of dreaming and planning about who you could be, becomes the plan you follow from now until then.
All purposeful journeys have clear destinations.
Secondly, it creates a clear framework for the allocation of resources. Go back to the question. Who do you need to BE to be delighted to meet you? When you know who you want to be, you can decide how much time needs to be allocated to this endeavour. A colleague of mine named Peter did this and one of his objectives was to develop a significant relationship with his very young grandson. An excellent objective. Knowing that, it became clearer to him what his week needed to look like to be consistently in this little one’s life. Because he knew, he wanted that to be true of himself; Peter made the time to make it real. He allocated the resources to his stated priority.
Consider your health; your learning; a specific skill set. A goal you’d like to reach. When you know the destination, and have a clear mental creation, you are empowered to work backwards from that chance meeting on the street, and spend the time, the money and the energy to become that person.
Lastly, it helps you say NO to good things with confidence. I truly believe that great success comes more from what we say no to, rather than what we say yes to. Yes is easy. Yes adds to the activity but may not be fulfilling or even purposeful. Every leader I know is aware of the feeling immediately following saying yes to the wrong priority or even the wrong appointment. Say no more often and yes more slowly in the next 12 months. The impact on your focus, productivity and mental clutter will astound you.
Knowing who you want to ‘bump into’ at the end of next year is the north star of prioritisation. Ruthlessly hold that picture of the future up high and evaluate every activity, every decision, every expense and every commitment in before it. Don’t be afraid of saying no because you’ve already said yes. Remember, you want to meet the you, you’re delighted to meet. No, will get you there.
Unless you have a clear destination for the you, you want to be, any which way will get you there.
#leadsmall – because when you do, big things can happen.