It’s that time of year! People all over the world have lists of New Year’s Resolutions – the things they’ve committed to paper that they’re going to change. For some it’s a long list of things that they want to be different. For others, it’s one focused behavior that they’ve pledged to change. Within weeks, most of it will be forgotten, or new practices will have failed…and on we go with the way things have always been.
Companies and organizations regularly form “New Year’s Resolutions.” They call them strategic plans. The lists of things that are going to be different are usually called goals to which are added measurable objectives and tactics. The problem with both personal and company goals is the failure to ask the question “What will be different as a result of our effort?” followed by the realization “Oh – this requires effort on my part/our part for an extended period of time.
It calls for a new framework. There is no going back or temporariness about resolutions or strategic plans. It’s all about constant re-creation. To engage people, including yourself, in constant effort, there must be clarity about “the what,” “the why,” “the how,” and “what’s going to be better – the outcome.”
Sometimes the why has to do with external changing variables that provide no option but to make significant change. That’s the least attractive reason to exert effort. Fear might be very motivating, but team members operating on the adrenalin rush of survival is not a preferable way to create sustained effort. It’s exhausting and a drain to operate in a state of uncertainty.
A far more attractive work environment to create is the one that has such a compelling story attached to it that everyone wants to be a part of it. It has a rational and clear statement of purpose, there is an emotional context that can be called upon – whether it’s the greater good, relieving ongoing business pain, or the call to a completely new solution. Everyone can see their role in execution, which delivers a sense of personal value in accomplishing what’s going to be different.
Where two or more people are gathered, they can come up with stuff to do. This is not about doing stuff. This is about determining exactly which effort needs to be exerted, in what combination, utilizing specific gifts in the talent pool, and exerting exactly the right amount of focused resources to achieve something greater than where you are now for a really great reason.
If you can articulate that sharply, the definition or the need for effort goes away – not because effort isn’t needed, but because people’s perception of effort changes. It’s not effort in the negative sense but effort freely given to the flow of designing an outcome’s impact that everyone believes in. Effort becomes effortless in that state of freely and consciously giving of your talent.
Try it – the only thing you’ve got to gain is everything.