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A lot of people ask me why I put so much importance on having a clear purpose and vision underpinning and supporting everything you do, and that this should be in place as far as is possible before you start to take action.

There are so many reasons but I think for me the most important thing is having clarity about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. When things get tough and the Inner Reptile tries to take over, the more clarity you have the more easily you will be able to calm him down and retake control.

When you’re under severe stress you only have access to about 10% of your normal intelligence so its vital that you have a clear and simple plan of action put in place before stress takes hold. Once the Inner Reptile is in charge this is not a good time for making decisions! So if your detailed plan is all there for you, telling you exactly what your next step should be, your chances of making a bad decision under stress are much less.

The problem with the Inner Reptile is he can only ever predict consequences one step ahead. Remember, his job is to save your life in that moment. So dealing with complex decision making is beyond him. Decision making under the Inner Reptile tends to be only about short term survival and often only preserves the status quo. He really only has three possible solutions – fight, flight or freeze. These reactions was developed back before the stone age when the most complex decisions were about eat or be eaten. Its unlikely in a complex stressful situation that any of these decisions are going to be helpful! Can you imagine if the GPS in your car only ever gave you three instructions? You wouldn’t get very far and your stress levels would not be improved! And it wouldn’t do you much good to wait until you were lost to programme it!

Having a definite purpose and a clear vision also means you can keep your eye on the result you want. This means you can stay on track towards your goal, or even if you choose, meander off for a while! Sometimes the direct route is not the most interesting or the most fun, and sometimes life just gets in the way and you have to take a break. Having a clear picture of your destination means you can quickly and easily to get back on track after a detour.

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If you want to create a results driven team one of the most useful things you can do is to encourage the leaders of the team to create a powerful vision that they can all work towards.

Our brains work largely in pictures. Its really hard for us to think about something that we can’t picture. For example, if I asked you to visualise your car you would be able to do that easily and the ability to do that means that you can find it quickly in a car park. But if I asked you to visualise a Jabberwocky you would likely have no idea what I was talking about and if one happened to sit down beside you you would not recognise it!

Why is this important for teamwork? Well, you want your team to understand what results they are trying to create and if the results are something they’ve never done before, how will they recognise when they’ve achieved them? Creating a powerful shared vision makes it easy for your team members to work together to create strategies that will achieve the desired results, to keep on track while they are working towards them and to know when its time to celebrate.

Many companies focus on team building before they focus on vision building. But the reality is that trying to do one without the other will lead to fragmented teams and challenges in achieving results. Getting a clear and compelling vision for your team at the very start of a project will ensure you have the right people working together in the right places to achieve the right results.

 

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We were talking about movies today and our favourite scenes and why they are so memorable.

This is mine:

Even thinking about this scene brings me out in goosebumps and it got me thinking. If a scene from a movie about someone I don’t know in a situation I can’t really relate to can create this strong an emotional reaction in me, how much more powerful is a scene in my head about my vision for my future? And how much more powerful is that scene when I back in up with pictures and images, like watching a movie. If we use a vision board to really engage all of our emotions we will charge up our subconscious to go look for the solutions we need to get the results we’re looking for.

What’s your favourite movie scene?

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Someone asked me today how I could possibly describe Steve Jobs as an ordinary guy when clearly his impact on the world has been so extraordinary.

And yet if you look at where he came from, his upbringing, his schooling, his family background, there are very few clues that could have told us someone amazing was evolving. His early history is really quite mundane and boring, and if anything he was a bit of an under-achiever in his school years. So much for the theory that success leaves clues.

So what changed?

I believe what changed was he found his passion very early on. And unlike most people he decided to go after it and ignore anyone who told him he was barking up the wrong tree, or just simply barking! And I’m pretty sure there were plenty of them.

Imagine then, what your life would look like if you took the same single-minded attitude to pursuing your passion. When was the last time you even thought about what your really, truly, deeply, passionately want? Many of us bury these ideas quite early on. How would things change if you unburied them? Would you be prepared for the changes? Or would you find that degree of change too difficult, too challenging? What would your life be like if you followed your wildest dreams?

Most people live comfortable mediocre lives doing what people expect of them. And many of them are very content with those lives and that is a good thing.

But a few ordinary people follow their passion to become extra-ordinary. Its just a choice.

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OK, I know it shouldn’t be a surprise to me but every time it happens it amazes, and then amuses me, how things on my vision board have an uncanny habit of turning up in my life!

My vision board has all sorts of wonderful things on it and some of them are pretty big (OK for big read expensive!) and so while I really want them in my life, I am prepared to wait for my life to be ready to accept them.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I realised that one of my most outrageous “visions” was actually here already!

I’m a bit of a petrolhead. OK, I know girls are not supposed to be into stuff like that but I have been in love with fast cars since I was about nine, when I stole my cousin’s Matchbox convertible Porsche and refused point blank to give it back!

So on my vision board, tucked away in the corner, is my dream car – a Maserati Gran Cabrio. Its a pretty expensive toy so I really wasn’t expecting it to manifest for a good while yet – but the funny thing is, a Maserati has been parked in my garage almost every weekend for the past month! A few weeks ago it was the gorgeous Gran Cabrio, then it was the completely silly Stradale MC, now its the rather grown up Quattroporte! And the really cool thing – I haven’t had to pay for any of them!

So here’s the thing about vision boards – when you put stuff on them expect the stuff on them to show up! And don’t ask how! And say thank you!

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Its always great to look at the real high achievers, and high contributors in the world and get a glimpse into where they came from. So this speech may be a few years old now but its still worth really paying attention to. Success leaves clues!

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Yesterday I talked about how its good to share your goals with other people because often you have no idea who can help you. But it is true that there are dream stealers out there who like nothing better than to bring everyone down to their level.

Sharing your dreams is taking a big risk, especially if you accidentally share them with an energy vampire and find all the joy and excitement being sucked out of you!

Here’s the thing to remember if that happens – this person is only behaving like this because they have no dreams of their own. Or maybe they have dreams but they are too fearful to take action on them. Hard as it is, you should feel compassion for them rather than anger.

But here’s the really exciting possibility – by sharing your dreams with them you might just inspire them enough for them to muster up the courage to take a look at what might be possible in their life.

Doesn’t that make the risk worth it?

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