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The Teachings of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Habit 2 – Begin With the End in Mind (Part 1)

November 24, 2023
The Teachings of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Habit 2 - Begin With the End in Mind (Part 1)

Previous articles for this series can be found here.

Good leaders are created; rarely are they just born that way. In order to be shaped into strong ones, they will have to manifest certain characteristics and habits.

Being proactive is the first of those characteristics, as we talked about last time. And beginning with the end in mind, which is the habit of creative vision, is the next one we’ll discuss.

Now, if you’ve been around me any time at all, you’ve heard of the prosperity plan. The prosperity plan is essentially your mission statement for your life. It’s a written expression of what you’re trying to do, how you’re trying to do it, and your basic values and priorities.

In the Beginning…

And when you have a strong mission statement for your life, you have a clear understanding of who you are, and what you’re trying to accomplish.

I came up with my personal mission statement about 15 years ago, which still drives me to this day. It’s one sentence that encapsulates what I try to do in terms of my professional life:

“I inspire, and I teach organizations and individuals how to thrive in the face of adversity.”

As you know, challenges will always be out there: financial, relationship, and health challenges.

So today, we’re going to talk about the two creations. All things are created twice.

Again, your personal goals in life I’ve always referred to as your prosperity plan. But this is really about the prosperity plan for your business. Hopefully, the goals for your business have been clearly written and are reviewed regularly.

This Looks Familiar

Without a plan, your team will tend to believe they are wandering in the desert without a purpose. And if you don’t have a clear sense of where you’re going, why should they follow you? What kind of confidence are they going to have in the potential of your business?

Here’s the point illustrated by a quote from Alice in Wonderland:

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where…
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

So without a clear direction of where we’re going, it doesn’t matter what you do every day, right? You won’t know any of these: Did I move closer to my goals today? Did I execute on my plan today? You can’t evaluate progress if you don’t have anything to measure it against.

James Allen wrote these famous words in 1909, “Dispersion is weakness, concentration is power.” Having a plan is concentration. The team having a singular focus is concentration.

Rabbit’s Foot

The ineffective paradigm in business is, “The ship will correct its own course.” I can’t tell you how many managers and owners I come across who honestly believe their job is to observe what’s going on and then complain about it if they don’t like the results. They’re not really proactively impacting what’s happening. They’re kind of sitting back and passively observing.

And then, if they don’t like it, they complain about it at the water cooler. That’s just accepting results by default. That’s crossing your fingers and hoping things work out. And you can’t effectively run a business that way. You have to constantly apply pressure to the direction you want it to go. And it’s a never-ending effort. It’s rarely going to be easy.

The effective paradigm is, “My business succeeds by design.” Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t need to make adjustments. I’m saying I will modify the plans and change the ship’s course when necessary. At some point, Netflix changed its original business plan, and look where that change brought them. There definitely is a time for re-evaluating and improving the old plan, especially when the industry changes in front of your eyes.

How would your business look today if you did not at least change with the times? The newspaper industry was disrupted by the internet, incandescent light bulbs by LED, TV cable by streaming platforms, brick and mortar bookstores by Amazon, Kodak film by digital cameras, and the music industry by Napster and then by Spotify.

The Road Map

The bottom line for my company is that we know where we’re going to end up. We have the financial objectives in mind, the revenue we need to earn each year to get where we’re trying to go, and we will get there according to plan. We won’t be at the mercy of luck, accidental success, or other unknown influences.

So we have to be in control of our business life, and having a clear mental image of where to go is a big part of that. It gives clarity. It gives focus, and also it gives employees something to follow.

You don’t ask your family to pack for a trip without them being part of the plan, right? How will they know what to pack if they don’t know the destination, the weather, the duration? That’s not very good leadership if you want them to be on board with your plan. The same is true with business. If your team knows the goals they all need to shoot for, it helps them pack. Hell, they may even know a shortcut to save you miles or money.

All things are created twice, as Dr. Covey says. If you think about a building, there’s a set of blueprints. If you’re going to a meeting, there should be an agenda. These are examples of beginning with the end in mind. The building was first built on paper and then built in person. The ideas for the meeting’s topics were thought out ahead of time in the form of an agenda. And then when the meeting was underway, it followed that plan.

Next time, we’ll discuss the plan in more detail and will have some famous examples of mission statements.