“Begin with the end in mind.”
This household maxim is one of Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people. It describes the successful person’s ability to create something in their mind before they bring it into the world.
It’s also the way that many – or rather, most – great growth journeys begin: with a vivid mental image of who we want to become. We can better direct our efforts to grow when we have an image of what we’re growing toward.
Strategic thinking seeks to bridge the gap between what is and what could be, connecting the beginning and the end. By thinking strategically, we can implement a plan that will give us direction for today and increase our potential for tomorrow.
Curiosity Fuels Strategy; Strategy Brings Results
Imagine this: you’re at home one night when the lamp in your bedroom flickers and dies. What’s the first thing you do: change the bulb, or grab a flashlight?
Of course, you find a light.
You know something’s got to change. But before you can do anything, you need clarity. You’ll save time – and frustration – when you act after getting the insight you need. Then, and only then, you can employ an effective strategy.
But clarity only comes when you get curious about the right things.
No one knows this better than Church of the Highlands founder Chris Hodges. Chris spent 12 years growing the Alabama church from a congregation of zero to the second-largest in the United States.
In that time of incredible expansion, Chris says there were three strategic questions that helped give him and his team the clarity they needed each step of the way – and when you apply them to your own personal growth, they can do the same for you.
1. WHAT ARE MY MEASURABLE WINS?
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement,” says author and business expert H. James Harrington. What gets measured becomes better understood and contributes to clarity. Not only that, but measurement turns into motivation once you’ve made improvements.
Looking for measurable wins clarifies what you’ve been accomplishing and how you’ve been keeping track of it. How do your recent wins factor into the big picture? What progress can you see according to your measurements?
2. HOW AM I DOING NOW?
Let’s say you know exactly where you want to grow. You have an image, a number, or a benchmark in mind that you know you want to aim for. You are beginning the best way anyone can: with the end in mind.
But how can you get there if you don’t know where you are?
Movement toward your goal is relative to where you are today. We can only start to strategize if we have some idea of where we stand when we get started.
Assess what you’ve measured and get clarity on your current position. Now that you’ve measured, what does it mean? What does it say about the journey ahead?
3. WHAT NEEDS TO GET BETTER?
This is a focal question for growth-minded individuals. Some of us are always asking how we can improve something, including ourselves.
But strategic thinking asks what needs to improve after gaining context and clarity on where you are now, what’s going well, and where you want to end up.
Set aside time to analyze your goal objectively and ask what must change for you to get closer to it. Specifically, what one area of your life or strategy, if it were different, would make the biggest difference for your progress?
What is your personal growth strategy?
What end do you have in mind at the start of your growth journey? Maxwell Leadership wants to partner with you to help you get the clarity you need. The Maxwell Leadership app is free to download and designed to direct your development with intention.