Many years ago when I was in the amusement park industry, the then president of our association drawled this headline in his thick Georgia accent. And it has stayed with me because it is perfectly true.
Think about how you use navigation these days. You generally do not start with step 1, step 2, step 3… No, you start with your ultimate destination in mind and the navigation then helps you figure out how to get there depending on various parameters including traffic congestion, tolls, etc.
We use this exact principle in helping our clients to figure out where they are going professionally up front, so that the career change process is not simply a search for an isolated job. Instead, it lays out a road map for possibly more than one job—a career plan—that will take the client to the ultimate destination.
As part of our Clarity Program© (the “targeting” component of our five-step career change process), we ask the client to spend some time articulating his or her Vision of that ultimate goal. This process is extremely interesting for those who truly engage with it. Let me tell you about one such experience.
Let’s call him Leroy. He is a co-owner of a small specialty construction company in a hot market. He and his partners have ambitious plans to grow this business, so I asked him to elaborate his Vision as part of his Personal Strategic Plan.
Leroy promptly sketched out a business about 25 times larger than the current business. He addressed the quality of his envisioned associates. He highlighted his personal health, his income, and his family and relationships. We ask people to do this in the first person, present tense… as if it has already happened so as to make it palpably real. Then we sat down to discuss his draft.
In this case, I approached it from the point of view of constraints. Why hasn’t this Vision already happened? What is holding it back?
Leroy talked about how there is only so much room to grow in the niche he’s in in his current market. He realized as we talked that he is thinking about expanding to perhaps ten major cities in the US and setting up a mini-organization in each of them. This opens questions about where to focus first, about the infrastructure and organizational form required to support such an expansion, and about the nature of his own role, too, since clearly he cannot both remain highly operational and drive such a roll-out. There is of course also the question of where to find the capital to finance this growth, but let’s address that a little later in the process.
As long as we were probing his draft Vision, I asked Leroy to explore the role he is writing for himself from two other perspectives: a) is the skill set required from him in this Vision consistent with his skills, and b) will the day to day activities required of him per this Vision also bring him satisfaction? These are key questions, of course, since he could potentially write himself a role for which he is ill-suited and that will make him miserable. It’s happened many times before.
Leroy is still working on his Vision as I write this, but we are also taking it now to the next level even as he perfects it. The next piece of the Personal Strategic Plan that is part of our Clarity Program© is the Mission. As we define it, the Mission addresses what needs to change in order for this Vision to become true. Often this is a review of the constraints and then itemizing how the client plans to address each of these constraints and in what sequence.
In this case, Leroy and I came up with a relatively short list of a) management capacity (both skills and working hours), b) management focus (doing versus leading), c) balancing the capital required vs. the return achievable, and d) access to adequate and qualified manpower. Leroy will need to develop a strategy for addressing each of these as he progresses his Personal Strategic Plan.
And so it goes. If you can envision your goal clearly enough, you can prepare yourself, step by step to achieve it. That is exactly how our career change program works and why clients provide testimonials like this one from Megan Lovell:
“Vivek was a great coach! This was my first experience with the Clarity Program© and all the components of it. I needed quite a bit of clarification and he was so patient and kind through it all. He also had great reading suggestions to deepen the knowledge I acquired from it. Although I have to take smaller steps to get to my ultimate goal, he worked extremely hard to help me understand why and formulate tangible goals to get there. I truly enjoyed every phone call I had with Vivek and feel more empowered to make the necessary changes. Thank you!”