A Coaching Power Tool Created by Cynthia Brendel
(Career Coach, UNITED STATES)
Beginning with the End in Mind
Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen. – Stephen Covey
In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain
In order to truly realize our goals and dreams, we must keep our eyes focused on the road ahead. We must visualize success and develop a strategy for going from where we are today (the starting line) and where we truly want to be (the finish line.) As I work with various clients, I find that what’s most important to help them move forward is allowing them to see how they can get behind the wheel and become the driver in their lives to realize change. Taking a back seat approach often leads to a great deal of unhappiness and frustration. But it often takes a tremendous amount of courage to move from the back seat to the driver’s seat.
Have you ever heard anyone say – “I’m just along for the ride.” Are they realizing their dreams? Are they living in a way that allows them to be their authentic selves? Or, are they just sitting in the boat allowing the current to take them downstream hoping to land in a good place?
I have coached a number of individuals who say they want to make a change in their lives. They want to move from where they are today to another place. But, after much discussion, I am not sure that they were ready to make a change. What I have noticed is that many individuals are comfortable taking a back seat approach to life. It is often much easier to just let things come as they may rather than developing a plan and strategy, putting into place a structure, doing the work, and taking risks to move to that new place in life. That new place could mean taking on a new job with new people and a new organization. It could mean getting a divorce and learning to live alone. It could mean making a commitment to another person and sticking with those commitments way into the future. Whatever it is, it takes work! But one thing I know for sure is that for those who decide to get behind the wheel, set forth a plan, and take the necessary steps to move forward there are few regrets. Those individuals can take pride in knowing that they developed their vision, goals, objectives, and did what it took to move to a new place in life.
I was witnessing a wedding recently and found the sermon given by the Priest to be very thought-provoking. He told the bride and groom to imagine that he was holding a blank piece of paper in his hands. He went on to explain that this piece of paper represented a legal document that bound the two of them to stick together regardless of any future challenges in life the two might face together as a couple. That they would guarantee to be there for one another in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. And, that they both needed to sign the blank piece of paper showing their full commitment for life to one another. He joked that no lawyer in the room would suggest that this was a good idea. Who in their right mind would sign a contract that had not been written prior to signing on the bottom line? But, the two did marry on that day and did promise to get behind the wheel of life and do what it would take to make the marriage work for as long as the two were alive. In this example, both parties will not be able to take a back seat as marriage is something we must work at each and every day. Anyone who is married for a number of years would most likely agree that taking a back seat would be a much riskier approach.
Benefits of keeping our eye on the board road
In life, there is never a way to know what lies ahead or how long we have to enjoy life. We are put on earth and are given the opportunity to decide what to do with that life. Life is full of choices and we can take action or proclaim that we are victims of what happens to us. Below is one of my favourite quotes about life. My personal experiences have taught me that success comes from looking at life through the windshield rather than the rearview mirror.
I remember when I was sitting in an industry roundtable with peers and realized that many had much more education than I. I was actually in the securities industry and companies were merging on a daily basis. The next time I attended one of our monthly meetings in New York City, there were fewer attendees. I witnessed this over and over again. Many had lost their jobs due to downsizing as well as mergers and acquisitions. I decided that I needed to take control, go back to school and complete my undergraduate degree and obtain a master’s degree to stay competitive in my market place.
I went to a local university to enrol in evening classes. On that day, I had no idea what I was in for. I ended up going to night school, while running a training department for a large brokerage firm, for seven years without a break. I graduated with a dual master’s degree in HR Development and Management and Leadership. If not for obtaining that degree, I would not be where I am today with respect to pride, knowledge, and skills that help to ensure that I can support my family financially. I never took my eye off the road ahead for even a week.
I truly believe that ensuring our clients take a front seat approach to whatever it is that they want to have happened is how we can really make a difference in their lives. Our believing in them and supporting them along the way can help them develop the courage needed to define their targets, develop their action plans, and do the work necessary to move them from where they are today to where they would rather be in life.
A good coach can ask the right questions to help their clients define what they want the road ahead to look like, develop structures to help them continuously move forward and set perspectives that will ensure that they keep their eyes on the road.
Powerful Questions to ask your clients
- In a perfect world, what would your life look like one year from now, two years from now, five years from now and 10 years from now? You may want to look at various aspects of your life such as family, friends, career, finances, personal health and wellness, spiritually, etc.
- What aspect of your life do you want to work on transforming first?
- Develop two to three short-term goals that will get you moving in that direction.
- Develop one or two long-term goals that will help you attain your long-term goals.
- Break down each goal into steps or action items that you can begin taking on a weekly basis.
- What are you willing to commit to doing in this upcoming week?
- What challenges do you believe will hold you back from delivering on those action items?
- How can you overcome those challenges?
- What structures do you believe you need to put into place to help you attain your goals?
- What or who can help support you to ensure you complete your action items?
- How can I, as your coach, help you hold yourself accountable?
- How can you support yourself to ensure you are keeping your eye on the road ahead?
- How will you celebrate your successes along the way?
In summary, I’d like to share with you words of wisdom from the famous author Stephen Covey. When he wrote one of his many bestsellers, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he coined the phrase “Beginning with the End in Mind.” Here is how he defines it:
Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It’s about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfil yourself. Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.
In my personal opinion, to arrive at a destination we must first know exactly where we want to land. Otherwise, we will find ourselves watching the wall when we need to be focused on the road.
When we empower other people to shape our lives, we are simply along for the ride. To get the most out of life, we must get behind the wheel and take control of our own destiny. And, by keeping our eyes focused on our goals and dreams, anything is possible!