Begin With The End in Mind

I recently was talking with a co-worker of mine about a meeting we had recently attended.  He referred to my ability to be a “closer” for meetings like this and how he felt I was very good in those types of situations.  I shared something with him that I now share with you which had one of the greatest impacts in my career and ultimately my life.  Back in 1990 I read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  One of the habits that stuck out to me more than the others was “begin with the end in mind”.  Covey was really applying this at a macro level as he had the reader imagine themselves sitting at their own funeral listening to the eulogy.

I found the activity fascinating but realized that I could also apply the same ideas at a micro level.  That’s what I had done this week at our daylong meeting.  I envisioned before the meeting how I would like the meeting to adjourn.  I thought about what the needed take-a-ways would be and then throughout the day worked to achieve my vision for the end of that meeting.  It didn’t always go as hoped but it meant I would need to adjust in another area.  By having these ideas in my head, it helped at the end of the day to be able to summarize and close in the way I had hoped the meeting would end.  This micro level approach to begin with the end in mind has served me well in situations like delivering bad news, doing a disciplinary chat with an employee, or simply thinking about how to organize my day to optimize the chances of having a good day.

This technique is also essential in our conflict prevention.  When we consider how to approach workplace conflict, we must start with the end in mind.  Preferably, that we resolve the conflict in a way that not only maintains the relationship but makes the relationship better through the process.  This was one of our key focuses in the meeting my co-worker and I attended.  We wanted the customer to think about what their ultimate end game was for implementing our training.  We wanted them to acknowledge what the workplace conflict scenarios were currently and what they would look like a year from now if handled in a different way. Ultimately, we wanted them to begin with an end in mind.  

When we begin with the end in mind both at a micro and at a macro level, it gives a destination that allows us to map our way there most successfully.  We look at potential problems that lay along the road to success and adjust as we see necessary.  It also allows us to always have a point to focus back to when we are knocked about a bit.  Though we find ourselves off target, by having an end in mind we readjust to make our end a reality.  Is there an area of your life you feel that you are going along with no real purpose?  My challenge to you would be to think about the end and make a place to achieve it with purpose!

Tim Geels – Director of Implementation and Governance

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