The question I usually get after talking about personal vision is “Why? Why is it important to discover your personal vision?”
I’m going to answer this question with two more questions:
Do you feel fulfilled in your life right now?
Are people inspired by you consistently?
If you are like me, the answer to that question is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer. It’s more complex. There are some areas where I feel fulfilled and other areas where I don’t. At times I think I inspire or motivate others but there are also moments where I fall short.
So this is the reason it’s important. Your personal vision gives you insight into why: why you don’t consistently feel fulfilled and why you don’t consistently inspire others.
Before I explain more, let me share my personal vision statement:
To equip leaders to become the best versions of themselves.
My purpose in this world is to help people maximize their potential. To help provide them with the tools and resources they need to accomplish their personal and professional goals.
Let’s get back to those questions.
Question #1: Do I feel fulfilled in life right now?
Simon Sinek remarks, “Happiness comes from what we do. Fulfillment comes from why we do it.” Your “why” is your personal vision. When you understand your personal vision, you now have the goal or destination of your life. The next step is to create avenues in both your personal and professional life to live out your personal vision.
I have found this to be true in my own life. The seasons of life where I am helping others maximize their potential are the seasons where I feel the most fulfilled. And the moments where I don’t feel fulfilled are the ones where the busyness of life gets in the way and I don’t prioritize my personal vision.
The more opportunities you have to live out your personal vision the more fulfilled you will be.
Question #2: Do I inspire others consistently?
The reason we struggle to inspire or motivate others is because we are not inspired. You have to inspire yourself before you can inspire others.
Your personal vision serves as the fuel for inspiration.
Your goal each day is to live out your personal vision by competing against yourself (not others). Work to become the best version of yourself (not someone else) with the resources that you have been given.
When you compete against yourself, it gives you the platform to take the next step which is inspiring others.
How do you inspire others? You share your personal vision with them and invite them to join you on the journey. This is basically Leadership 101. You inspire and influence others so that they can become the best version of themselves. As Simon Sinek says, “The goal is not simply for you to cross the finish line, but to see how many people you can inspire to run with you.”
How can you live out your personal vision? What are some avenues or areas in your life that will help you accomplish your personal vision?
Who do you need to invite to join you on the journey? Who can you invest in and help them become the best version of themselves?
What is your purpose in life? I know that can sound like a very philosophical and maybe even daunting question to ask.
Or how about if I asked you what success looks like in your personal life? Again, many of us would struggle to answer that because at times it’s hard to know what the scoreboard looks like.
How different would your personal (and maybe even professional) life look if you knew your life’s purpose?
We all have an innate, unique life vision. This vision transcends our job and gets to the core of our purpose in this life. You don’t create your life vision, you discover it. And the good news is that finding your personal vision is not an esoteric exercise. It’s a very down-to-earth process initiated by asking yourself a few questions.
What are the 5 things I do better than most people?
This question is about your strengths. It’s not about comparing yourself to others but in identifying those natural gifts and skills that you have been given and refined over the years.
After you take some time to list out your 5 strengths, share them with a family member or close friend to review and provide further insight.
You can also take an assessment to help you get a more accurate understanding of your strengths. I highly recommend StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Gallup.
If money were no object, what 5 activities would I fill my time with?
The answer to this question helps you articulate what you are truly passionate about. Those people and activities that are the highest priorities in your life. In essence, you are creating your personal core values.
What are the 5 most influential events or stories from my past?
These are your significant stories. These could be positive or uplifting stories that we wish we could relive over and over again. Or they could be heartbreaking stories that we never want to revisit. Regardless, it’s important that we take time to lean into these stories — especially the difficult ones — because sometimes the most challenging moments of our life are the ones that are most significant in shaping who we are today.
When you think through your significant stories, be specific. Think of a specific time, place, setting, and people. Get past the facts of the story and think through the emotions you were feeling. What impact did that story have on you? If the story involves someone else, what contribution did you make to them?
I first became acquainted with the power of significant stories from the book Find Your Why by Simon Sinek. Sinek comments on the importance of these stories, saying, “At its core the WHY (personal vision) is an origin story. Who we are is the sum total of all the experiences we’ve had growing up—the lessons we learned, the teachers we had, and the things we did.”
To take your significant stories exercise to the next level, I highly recommend that you find a trusted family member or friend to share these stories with. The simple act of sharing our stories with someone else will help us identify potentially hidden lessons that we couldn’t recognize on our own.
What are the common themes?
As you look at your answers to questions #1-3, what are the common themes you see? What areas of passion, that you are also good at, are a part of one of your significant stories (where you used that passion/strength)?
I recommend that you try to come up with at least 5 different themes. It is also beneficial to bring a family member or trusted friend into this process to help you identify those themes. They will bring some valuable insight.
What is your personal vision statement?
After you have identified your themes, the next step is to narrow them down to the one or two most significant themes. Then, summarize those theme(s) into a short sentence or phrase. Don’t worry about getting the words just right. Create a rough draft, let it sit for a few days, and then revise it accordingly.
One you’re finished, just like an organization has a mission statement, you now have your very own personal vision statement.
I would encourage you to set aside some time to go through the personal vision discovery process. Here’s a recap of what you need to do:
Answer questions #1-3 on your own.
Find a trusted family member or friend and share with them your answers (set aside about 2-3 hours for this step.)
With your trusted family member or friend, answer question #4 on your own and then compare your answers. Then, together, narrow down your themes to the one or two most significant themes.
With your trusted family member or friend, answer question #5 on your own and then compare your answers. Revise accordingly.
Post your personal vision statement in a place where you can see it regularly and after a few days revise it. Keep revising and sharing it with others to get their feedback. You will know your statement is “complete” when you share it with others and it inspires both you and them.
If you need help going through the personal vision discovery process, send me a message via social media or on our contact page. We can schedule a complimentary introductory session and begin the discussion to help you discover your personal vision.
Whether we realize it or not, we all want to be an influencer. You may not want to be a social media influencer, but you do want influence. You’d like to be respected and trusted enough that your spouse, kids, friends, and co-workers pay attention to what you have to say and, in many scenarios, act upon what you have shared with them. That’s influence.
Leadership is influence. Without influence you will never effectively lead others. Why? Because at the core of leadership is the ability to mobilize (aka influence) a group of people toward a common mission or goal.
Since influence is important in all aspects of life, how do we grow or develop it?
If you would like to begin the journey towards becoming an influencer, the first steps you need to take can be found by the following example of Ezra.
You might be asking yourself, who is this Ezra guy? Ezra was an ancient Hebrew leader. To give a brief history lesson… The nation of Israel had been displaced. Conquered by the Babylonians and many of their citizens were exiled to Babylon. Years later they were allowed to come back to Jerusalem and start rebuilding their city. Ezra was one of those leaders sent to help out the cause. The problem is that he faced an insurmountable challenge. How do you influence a group of people who have been devastated by war, have no national pride, and have lost their identity (and motivation)?
Here’s what the ancient Hebrew history text says: “Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach his statutes.”
Ezra didn’t rally the troops and give them a “ra ra” speech. He didn’t try to persuade them with a catchy slogan. The first thing he did was to study and learn. Ezra was a spiritual leader. So he set out to perfect his craft. He did this by gaining knowledge and then applying that knowledge so he could become an expert in it. He got in the trenches with his team and lived out his mission. As he learned more about their situation, their feelings, and their priorities and concerns, and as he earned trust through his actions, then he used his words to motivate them.
If you want to become a person of influence, you must practice the Ezra Principle: learn, apply, share.
But in order to have effective influence, you need all three. Here’s why:
If you learn and share but don’t apply, you are a hypocrite
Remember the phrase, “your actions speak louder than words?” Our life is a more powerful sermon than our words. As influencers, there can’t be duplicity between the words we say publicly and the way we live our life personally. They must match up. On the flip side, when you live out what you are sharing it multiplies your influence.
If you apply and share but don’t learn, you are ignorant
You are hollow. It’s like someone who talks a big game but can’t actually play. You need to perfect your craft (or skill set) through becoming a lifelong learner. A person who is not a learner is like a car without an engine. You might look really good on the outside, but under the hood you lack substance and depth.
If you learn and apply but don’t share, you are selfish
In my opinion, this is the saddest state. This person has the ability to influence those around him, but chooses to withhold. Most withhold because of a lack of confidence or because they’re worried about what others will think of them. As a result, both parties lose. People miss out on being impacted and this person misses out on helping others.
My hope is that you understand that all of us have the ability to influence others, but to turn that potential into progress we must learn, apply, and share. We must perfect our craft through learning and applying and then sharing both our successes and failures with others so that we can help them out on their journey. That’s influence.
Out of the three components to the Ezra Principle, which one comes most easily or natural to you? How can you refine or perfect that?
Which component do you struggle with the most? How can you grow in and develop that area so that it doesn’t hinder your ability to influence?
The value of currency changes. At any given moment, the American dollar can increase or decrease in value. This change in value doesn’t mean you stop using the dollar (even though some do), but it may mean that in certain seasons you can get more “bang for your buck.”
Leadership is like currency. Leaders use different types of “currency” in different moments to cast vision, build trust, and ultimately get a team to move in a unified direction toward a common goal.
And just like physical currency, there are certain types of “leadership currency” that have more value in certain seasons than in others.
In this new-normal or next-normal season, one currency that has significantly increased in value is transparency. It’s always been important but now its significance has grown exponentially. And just as in certain countries they expect you to use a specific type of currency, in this new-normal landscape, employees, team members, and even friends are expecting their leaders and key relationships to use the currency of transparency.
Transparent communication is a buzzword right now. So what does it actually mean?
Maybe the best way I can define it is by giving a real-life example of what transparent communication looks like.
That’s where Beyoncé comes in.
The setting is January 2013. President Barack Obama has just been reelected back in November and now at his inauguration Beyoncé sings the National Anthem. As always, she does an exceptional job. However, after this particular performance, the internet is not as concerned with how she sounded, as much as they are wondering if she sang live or was lip syncing.
Fast forward to about two weeks after the inauguration and the scandal is growing. Beyoncé is scheduled to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show and has a press conference for the event. Leading up to the press conference her camp had not responded to the lip sync speculation.
Then, at the Super Bowl press conference, Beyoncé used the platform to address the rumors. And in typical Queen Bey fashion she squashed any controversy, which is why you probably don’t remember this “scandal.” You see, Beyoncé came out on stage and before taking any questions she sang the National Anthem (in case there was any doubt about her talent) and then explained why she decided to lip sync at the inauguration. (If you would like to see the press conference and hear her response, you can watch it here.)
You may not agree with her reasons, but there was no cover up or controversy after that. She owned it, didn’t make excuses, and spoke with authenticity.
That’s transparent communication in a nutshell. You have the courage and boldness to share from the heart and trust people with that information.Now, transparent communication doesn’t mean that you share everything with everybody. You definitely need to think through your audience and what they need to know. But it does mean that you lean toward giving them more information than not enough. As Laszlo Bock says in his book, Work Rules!, “If you believe that people are good, you must be unafraid to share information with them.”
Basically, transparent communication is treating your team like adults and not children with the information that they need to know.
As a caveat, I actually think Beyoncé and her team could’ve done one thing better. They could’ve announced that she would be lip syncing before the ceremony. Frustration and/or disappointment come from unmet expectations.
Transparent communication seeks to clarify expectations up front so that frustration and disappointment are minimized.
How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 when it comes to transparent communication?The best way to find out is to ask the people around you (your spouse, inner circle, co-workers, and direct reports.)
Charlie Munger, who is Warren Buffet’s longtime business partner, quipped, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time.”
If we combine that bold saying with our opening quote, the point is well taken. If you want to give yourself the best opportunity to lead effectively, you need to read.
Maybe you have heard about the reading exploits of Bill Gates, who takes a reading vacation each year and reads 50 books a year. Or Mark Cuban, who reads 3 hours a day. In fact, many of the most successful (and busiest) people find time to read.
The question comes in, “why is reading so valuable?”
Well, it comes down to learning. Learning is probably the greatest skill you can possess.
In our ever-changing world, the knowledge that you gained in college or even just a few years ago has become irrelevant. The best tool you can give yourself (and your organization) is the ability to learn. Learning allows you to adapt and evolve with the changing landscape. It helps you gain new skills and refine existing ones.
With that being said, how do we get the most out of learning?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been opening up my toolbox and letting you see the tools that have helped me become more productive and effective both in my personal life and with my business. (If you missed our first two posts in this series, I encourage you to check them out: My Toolbox: Productivity and My Toolbox: Blogging.
Today, I’m sharing the tools and books that are helping me cultivate my personal and professional growth.
The book market is saturated. It seems like everyone you talk to has a book they are recommending. But which books are the most valuable to your learning? That depends on what you want to learn or what skills you want to develop.
For me, leadership, management, and business are extremely important. Here are my top 5 books in each of those categories (and note that each link is an affiliate link in case it looks like something you may enjoy also):
I don’t know if you are like me, but I struggle when it comes to current events like politics and business. The reason is that 1) I can spend too much on Facebook or Apple News “getting caught up“ and not realize that an hour has just passed by and 2) I get tired of the bias that many people and news companies have. I just want the facts.
Fortunately, about two years ago, I came across the Morning Brew. They offer a free daily newsletter that is a concise, unbiased summary of both national and world news including politics, business, technology, and sports; and it is presented in a light-hearted, clever manner. It takes me about 5 minutes to read and I feel like I’m more “in the know” than ever before in just a fraction compared to before I started receiving this newsletter.
One of my favorite quotes is “Information is not transformation. Transformation is in the application.” The caution or danger for those that read voraciously is that the knowledge simply gained doesn’t impact our lives and the people around us. For reading and learning to be the most effective, we have to apply it.
One app that has helped me out with this is Evernote. Evernote is like my digital brain. For learning purposes, I record the highlights from my books in what they call a note. This way I can review my highlights whenever I want.
I also put quotes, articles, and even my daily Morning Brew newsletters in Evernote. This way I can easily recall that information for a certain topic or training session I’m conducting as needed.
What skill or subject area do you need to learn in this season of life to take your leadership to the next level?After you identify that skill or subject area, create a learning plan to start working toward that goal.
And if you need help, let me know. We just launched a new coaching and accountability program called GPS (Guidance for Personal Success). In this program, we help you create a customized personal development plan and then provide “turn by turn” navigation to help you accomplish that plan. If you are interested in talking more about this, let’s schedule a free consultation session. Just click here and we will get the conversation started.
The right tools enhance your ability to complete a project and the wrong ones hinder. Every industry, whether that be construction, science, marketing, or leadership, has tools to help you be more effective.
I can relate. I’ve been blogging since 2009. I started my blog because I have a passion for helping others become the best versions of themselves through leadership development. Blogging has given me the opportunity to share my leadership journey with the world, refine my personal leadership skills, and help others aspiring leaders wanting to grow as a leader. (You can read more about why I started this blog here.)
Now to the tools: for those of you who have a blog or are hoping to start a blog, here are the tools I use to help me blog effectively:
I wrote about Evernote last week and discussed how it is one of my top productivity tools. It is also the tool I use for creating content.
Evernote is my source for new content. I store potential blog topics, quotes, and ideas in Evernote. Then, when I’m planning my blogs for the next month, I review the list. This way I don’t have to create “new” content right away. I have ideas at my fingertips.
One of the number one reasons many bloggers fail at being consistent is because they feel like they have run out of ideas. Evernote allows me to have a plethora of content ready to be crafted.
Bluehost is where I purchase my domain names and it was my first hosting site for my blog.
Let me backup. If you are just starting a blog, I recommend you use WordPress.com. WordPress makes it easy to setup a blog and it’s free. Plus, WordPress will host it.
At some point, you are going to want to have more control over your blog and get your own personal domain name. It makes your site more professional. This is when I recommend you will move to a WordPress.org site.
If you go this route, you’ll need to self-host your website. This is where Bluehost comes in. For those who are on a budget, Bluehost and WordPress go together like PB&H (I like honey better than jelly.)
This is what I did when I first launched my website, shawnlwelch.com. Bluehost let me get the URL and provided an affordable option to self-host my website. And bonus! You don’t need any coding or html skills to do this.
I used Bluehost to self-host my blog for years. However, when I started Your Leadership Coach and launched my company SWCo, I knew I needed to hire a professional to take my website and blog to the next level.
That’s where SkyrocketWP comes in. My good friend, Chad Barnes, started this company for small businesses and bloggers like me who need a professional look without the “professional” cost. I used SkyrocketWP to build my new website and they also provided a graphic designer to help me create my company logo. Their company provides monthly hosting and maintenance. The best parts of using SkyrocketWP are their great customer service and how they take away the headache of needing to be a WordPress expert. Highly recommend.
Every blogger needs a reliable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This is a fancy way of saying you need a system for people to subscribe to your blog so that you can create an email list.
Your email list is the holy grail of blogging. The more subscribers you have gives you a greater opportunity to influence others and it also allows you to monetize your blog more effectively.
When starting out, most people use a free service like MailChimp. That’s what I did. Free is your best friend when beginning a blog.However, at some point you want a more customizable and professional look to your emails. This is where GetResponse comes in.
GetResponse allows us to create customizable email templates. We can pre-schedule emails so that we don’t have to be up at 6:00am to send out the latest blog post email. We have also used GetResponse to help with our marketing campaigns including our Summer Webinar Series.
If you are looking for an affordable CRM that will make you look like a pro, I’d recommend GetResponse.
What’s your blog about?Now I don’t mean a physical blog (although you may already have one.) But what passion, experience, and/or skills are you going to share with the world? What avenue are you going to use to share that with us? Social media, blog, podcast, online cohort, etc. Once you’ve given it some thought, get out there and share!