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A highly successful business man once told me that he can ‘see the future’. He didn’t mean a potential or possible future. He meant he saw what he knows WILL happen.
While talking to him, it became clear that three things happen simultaneously in this moment of him ‘seeing’ the future:
And what happens next? The very thing which he ‘saw’, because he operates within a practical conviction.
Often we dream of an outcome and even though we know it is technically possible (because it exists in a similar form in the reality of people we can relate to), we don’t have a practical conviction of that outcome for ourselves. Perhaps we haven’t connected that opportunity to ourselves in a positive way. Perhaps we see the opportunity, but the path is unclear. Or perhaps we can acknowledge the path, but we don’t believe we have the ability or the energy to walk that path.
And so what we want seems frustratingly out of our reach.
It is important to note however, that a practical conviction can grow and mature over time, giving us access to what we want. We create this by first opening our minds to an opportunity, specifically understanding the full benefits within that opportunity (as opposed to the assumed negatives). We then purposefully define the practical path to that outcome, perhaps by drawing on our own skills and knowledge, or when needed, drawing it from others. As the practical path unfolds and our understanding of it matures, it gives us an easy conviction of our personal ability to walk that path. When we gain this conviction, achieving the desired outcome then simply becomes a natural progression for us.
In short, where we don’t have a practical conviction to achieve a desired outcome, we can create it deliberately.
All of us have areas where we have a practical conviction and areas where we don’t. Most people who work hard and care about the outcomes of what they do, will have a practical conviction in many areas of their work. I have found that those areas usually lie where the outcomes rely heavily on the person’s individual contribution, as opposed to the areas where extensive collaboration is required.
Where the path to a desired outcome in our immediate group is much bigger than our own contribution, we often falter - either through avoidance or an assumption that we can't change what we can't control. We quite simply put it in the ‘too hard’ basket and focus on the areas where we have a certainty in the result through our own action. And yet we still want the imagined future.
We can get there by recognising the importance of people collectively having a practical conviction, then seeking to create and mature the 3 elements listed above for all those involved.
As this article series forms part of the MIA Profitable Excellence conversation, I will use Profitability as an example of how a Practical Conviction can be deliberately crafted:
We need to view profitability (or more specifically the process of achieving profitability) as an opportunity. This requires an insight into what the positive achievement of profitability can look like in the day-to-day, including what the direct benefits are to our own goals and what the wider impacts are to business, clients, environment, community and industry. With focused leadership, this can be explored and learnt over time, or alternatively more deliberately taught within a much shorter time frame.
It is crucially important that we don’t allow the assumed negatives to overshadow the very real, yet often undiscovered benefits gained from the process of achieving profitability. Once our heads are completely in this game, the rest becomes remarkably achievable.
2. TOOL SET:
The practical path to profitability requires clarity in the numbers, easy access to those numbers, highly functional project processes, visibility of progression, responsibility structures, accountability supports, management follow-through and constant efficiency innovation.
The above elements co-exist in a Profitability Management ecosystem and are highly reliant on one another for their individual usefulness. Often what we believe is an unavoidable frustration in one area, merely requires some simple adjustment in another area.
3. SKILL SET:
People then need the skills to manage themselves within all relevant parts of that practical path, which requires training, as well as well-structured on-project mentoring support while they practice these skills.
If you find yourself reading this and feeling burdened by the thought of what would be required to train and mentor people consistently and effectively….take heart! With Mindset and Tool Set in place, a natural momentum is created which draws people into a higher level of continual learning and teaching. I'm not going to say it's effortless, but it certainly is a positive and rewarding process which people commit themselves to.
Where do you see an opportunity for yourself or collectively for the people around you? Do you find yourself doubting that desired future outcome because you don't yet have a practical conviction for it? Does it perhaps seem too awfully far away to start taking a step towards it now? Perhaps it's not far away and all you need to do is start by seeking clarity in Mindset.
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