Having a vision, a strategy, is so important. Whether the realm in question is business or life, it is very useful to have an orientation. To know what inspires you and what you are aiming for. However, we have to also be mindful that we don’t get sidetracked with all this. That we don’t miss the point of strategy.
Vision and strategy by their very definition tend to be about the future. No matter how broadly expressed, the focus is on being somewhere different, along with a big picture idea of how to get there. And, typically the time frame is years. Whether the aim is to become a highly innovative company in your field or develop personal mastery of mind, it is not going to happen overnight.
The danger with too much future focus is that it can end up distracting you from the here and now. Those day-to-day things that you are actually doing now, over which you have direct control. You might get so caught-up in obsessing over where you want to be that you forget to pay attention to the quality of the present. The quality of the actual doing and being. And, if you are in fact embodying your strategy, today, this hour, this minute.
Working from where you are
Truly acknowledging where you are is really the starting point for all growth and change. No matter how inspiring the vision and compelling the strategy, a failure to accept and recognise where you are today will hold you back.
Furthermore, by deeply acknowledging how things are today, without denial, without deflection, you create the potential for useful self-feedback. You are much more likely to have insights into what you are not doing, or not doing enough. And, from that place be able to make more effective changes.
Quality of focus
What we are really talking about then is the quality of your focus in the here and now. Have a vision, design a solid strategy, but check what that means in practice for today. Check that you are not constantly living in the future at the expense of today. All good strategy involves practical action. And, all practical action requires high quality focus in the moment for it to be effective.
So, the current moment must become the very embodiment of the vision, perhaps in a nascent form, to whatever extent you can muster today. For example, if mastery of mind is the vision, remember that you don’t have to become the Dalai Llama tomorrow. But, try and be aware of your thoughts and behaviours in everyday matters to the best of your ability, and not just during formal sitting meditation. If you want to create an innovative company, pay attention to how you approach problem solving generally, even with the little things. Don’t just reserve “innovative thinking” for the next killer-idea.
All this requires a real commitment to truly living your strategy here and now, the best that you can.
The point of strategy
You strategy has to then be lived everyday with a focus on practical actions. Otherwise, you risk building a future focused fantasy that you never really “do”, but just dream or worry about. Know what you want, and what you need to do. Then remember to notice the quality of your focus.
In summary, the common pitfalls are:
1) Obsessing over the future at the expense of the present
2) Denial and not acknowledging where you are today
3) Half-hearted embodiment of strategy
What to do:
1) Remember that things take time
2) Know how your strategy translates into practical doing
3) Maintain deep mental focus on the practical doing (and notice when you are not)
The point of strategy is to orient the mind and help find focus in the doing, not to distract you from it.
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