Change Work January 2007

A Grand Strategy ... The practical part!


Your purpose (or "mission") is the answer to the question, "What are you here to DO?"  If your vision defines an overall direction in your life, then your purpose drives you along the road every day.

It might be directly related to your vision.  Perhaps simply "to create the vision".
Or it could be less direct.  For example, a purpose in life of supporting your family can be successfully pursued without ever achieving a vision of
living in the Caribbean.  And yet they can feed each other.

Very few people can tell you what their purpose is and, of the four building blocks we're discussing here, it's usually the most difficult to find.

It might manifest itself as a sense of doing something worthwhile. For example, some war veterans look back on dreadful experiences with some nostalgia - a time when they had a real purpose.

It can feel a bit embarrassing or pretentious to have a purpose - or rather to state it publicly!  If you've been exposed to company "mission statements" then you've probably absorbed the cynicism or ridicule that they often provoke.  In my experience, they usually try to say everything and end up saying nothing. "To deliver world class service every time ... and quality ... and shareholder value ... and protect the environment ... and respect our people ... and behave ethically ... "

Trying to find words that will inspire a diverse group of people is almost impossible. The mission statement has to encapsulate what people already know about the company.

For your individual purpose, it's only necessary to inspire yourself.  So ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do I love doing?
  • What absorbs me?
  • What makes it fun?
  • What am I good at?
  • What will I be remembered for?

As an example, my own statement of purpose eventually crystallised into, "To grow myself through helping others to grow". This seems to be about right for a coach!  It captures the idea that life is about learning and expressing our potential.  And, as it's my personal mission, it doesn't matter if no-one else "gets" it.

It may take a while to get this right but you'll know when it works for you.
Then you'll be able to do everything "on purpose".


So, with a set of values underpinning you, a vision to steer towards and a purpose to drive you, what are the milestones on the journey, the specific goals to be achieved?

How will you measure your progress

  • delivering values
  • towards the vision
  • on purpose?

How will you know when you've arrived?

The goals you choose will tend to reflect your dominant thought patterns or "meta-programs" in NLP.  We'll go into those another time but, for now, consider whether you are predominantly motivated towards things that you want or away from things you don't want.  People who are "towards-motivated" are likely to set goals that they have no idea of how to achieve.  They trust that a way can be found.  In contrast, "away-from-motivated" people will usually only commit to goals that they can see the path to.  They focus their attention on the barriers, the problems.

The trouble with this is that if you only go for the things you already know how to do, you're not likely to achieve anything you haven't already achieved before.  So, are your goals "realistic"?  Or are they "awesome" - even "ridiculous"?  At least some of your goals need to be crazy!

What about the need for goals to be SMART?  Yes, they need to be Specific, Measurable, Related to everything else and Timebound.  But what does "Achievable" mean in the context of goals we don't know how to achieve?  Well, I suggest you presuppose that everything is achievable - it's just a matter of how much effort you're prepared to invest and how much you need to learn. When setting goals, concentrate on why you want them.  This builds desire and with it the determination to succeed.

When your goals are set - and written down! - you can start to think about a plan.  Perhaps just the first step towards the first goal.  Then rely more on "meaningful coincidences".  This is about the vast array of opportunities that you don't notice until you have a need.  Once your unconscious mind is working on the problem it's amazing how coincidences happen!  This is the mechanism that makes impossible things possible.

Until you are committed, many things remain literally impossible for you.  They won't happen because you won't take any action to make them happen.

By deciding that you will, you move things into "the realm of the possible".

So that's the model:  Values, Vision, Purpose, Goals.  Get to work on all four parts now and those New Year's Resolutions will become inevitable!