What do the words Vision, Mission, Objective, Goal mean to you?
Well, for most of us from the corporate world this would be the mumbo jumbo that leaders speak of and the wordsmiths of the corporate world spend hours, weeks or even months trying to craft to perfection.
During our professional journeys all of us have been subjected to these terms a zillion times. Nevertheless, the words fail to leave a mark on us as individuals. The question that is begging to be asked is why do most(yes I am risking the generalisation) of us not have a thought through, well crafted mission statement for our lives personal or professional.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Our first conscious decision making is all based on a set of instructions that we would have assimilated right from the time we are born. If one be critical, these are typically instructions on WHAT NOT TO DO rather than WHAT TO DO. All of them well intentioned but imagine being at the receiving end of a constant barrage of “Don’t touch that” or “Don’t go there” or “Don’t eat that”.
This is the phase in life that I’d term Early Consciousness.
And thus we build our decision making capabilities.
(See that wiggly yellow line …..the curve depicts our learning and while we are on explanations; the red curve shows the potential of the decision to impact our life to follow).
Moving on, the scenario improves a bit during the scholastic years wherein the instructions revolve around the “do this” or the more mild mannered “you should not”. Perhaps some understanding of consequences gets ingrained during this phase. A step forward in enabling the decision making abilities. One is encouraged to make choices and take decisions however, the reward/consequence is immediate in nature. “Get 95% in boards and you can choose Sciences” or “Join XXX tutorials and you can make it to a good engineering/medicine college” or “Make this CGPA and you can ensure a good placement”.
This phase is what I’d term Carrot & Stick.
All this while our ability to make informed decisions is improving with all the… ahem! education. Mind you nobody has yet said or discussed anything about those words that I mentioned right up front. But basis all the inputs and the time that lies ahead of you this would be the best time (A) to sit back and plan forward. Truth is no such thing happens.
Next comes the phase that I call Sunshine & Hay. The acid test for all that we have learnt.
Sadly, this is also where the dumbing down phase where the horses with blinkers learn to focus on Targets which I daresay are not very long term. This is the phase one is really slogging to appease. Those of us that happen to be in organisations where HR means more than recruitment and payroll get our first glimpses of goals and performance assessments. Discussions are held where the chain of command kicks in and from top down the “what the hell are we trying to do” pitch is amplified into the vision, mission, strategy, plan highfalutin. This is around the time (B) where we still have enough time to figure out the what and where part of our life. However, we are too busy blowing up the new found riches.
Mondays roll into Mondays while slowly (for most) but surely (sadly not for most) you are making your way up some corporates ladder. The mighty HR meanwhile, basis all the reviews and discussions over the years puts you on a development and skill renewal path winding its way through several workshops, trainings and online courses all decided by some mystical algorithm.
One fine day, you land up in a “leadership” workshop and at the back of your mind you are thinking “I have arrived”. And then…reality hits you. A gentle prod at first…you look up and see there isn’t enough space on top; you look around and say “Hmmm these guys are vying for the same thing”. Then, reality really shakes you up. You look back and say to yourself “Where did all the years go?”
You are almost 40 and at point (C). In a position to lead without a strong idea as to why or how you got where you got to or for that matter, whether this is the place you wanted at all to get to.
So now, at a point in life where both the yellow and red worms are getting limp; you have got to remember all that you’ve learnt, comprehend it, figure whether you have come to the right place, regardless think of a way forward, plan your approach and implement it. Everything at once!!
Problem is, the only phase that you have ahead of you is Reflection.