“Time may change me. But you can’t trace time.”~ David Bowie
Changes is a popular chart-topping song by David Bowie about an optimistic personal journey of stepping out on your own. He wrote it when he was going through a lot of personal change in his own life, as he and his wife were expecting Duncan, their first child.
I recall with fond affection the changes we faced in similar circumstances when Sue and I were eagerly expecting our first child. There was so much excitement and so many new things to learn and to experience, and our children have become our best friends.
After that, probably one of the biggest times of change for me was when I started my own business. Looking back I know that I didn’t really have much of an idea what I was going to do to make a living, but I did know that I was determined to make a living working for myself.
At the outset I explored several opportunities and pretty soon I uncovered my passion for helping people learn. I was experiencing the excitement of helping other people learn something useful and valuable that I had helped them discover.
“The difference between vision and a goal is the finish line. A goal is 26.2 miles. You can simply count the metrics and know when you’ve completed your goal. A vision is having a crystal clear sense of what the finish line looks like, but no idea of how far away it is.”~ Simon Sinek
I had eagerly taken an opportunity that he’d been presented in the form of a voluntary redundancy package, and the way I saw it was that this package provided me with a security pot, a sum of money that would provide for me and my family for a defined period. Everything I earned from my new business would add days to the far end of the pot, which was being spent at the near end. So long as these two ends didn’t meet and I earned more than I spent then I wouldn’t have to start looking for employment again.
There was an urgency that I felt very keenly, especially in the first days and weeks, since I had a family to support. I turned my hand to anything that would provide an income, and for many months no two weeks were the same. Within the first year a vision started to emerge which has been the guiding light since then, a vision of what I imagined “there” would be like, and that vision has captured my passion and set my direction. Sometimes it has shone very brightly, and other times it has seemed to shine but dimly, occasionally it has changed as circumstances around me have changed, and it has rarely (and only briefly) disappeared from sight.
Along the way there have been some key relationships which have helped me to understand where the vision was taking me and my family, and to keep a close eye on priorities along the way. I know that I have missed several correct turns and made more mistakes along the way than I would have liked, however, I also know that we have faced up to those mistakes and moved forward more strongly as a result.
It is this journey that is a large part of the inspiration behind the leadership model that has emerged from my experience as an employee, running my own business, and in being involved in the leadership of a variety of organisations locally, nationally and internationally.
At the heart of this model, we have the DREAM. This is where we let our imagination take us to the vision that Simon Sinek refers to. I like to describe it this way; that “Every dream needs a PRIZE: an inspiring image of the future that produces passion in people and turns ‘have-to’ into ‘want-to’.”
As with many challenges, there are many obstacles along the way that can conspire to derail the dream and many “fear barriers” to overcome, and I’ll pick that thought up in next week’s blog post, however for today I want to focus on the destination.
For a dream to be successfully implemented there needs to be both “away from” and “towards” pressures. The “towards” means there needs to be something attractive about “there”, or where we are going to, and the “away from” means there needs to be something making “here” unsustainable.
Apparently, Kodak had the technology for digital photography as it was emerging, they invented some of it and even flirted with using it, but missed the opportunity to embrace that emerging opportunity because they misunderstood their market and how it was evolving. They remained focused on film and the profits ensuing from the printed image, rather than on the dream of capturing (and sharing) memories. They could have been world leaders yet ended up out of business.
“[Kodak Management]~ Steven Sasson to The New York Times.
wereconvinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set,”
Although “there” was sufficiently attractive for Kodak to make a handsome profit from their patents for digital photography, “here” was too attractive to the company for them to leave it behind. The result is now history.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”~ widely attributed to Henry Ford
Although there is little evidence that Ford actually said these words and some compelling evidence that he didn’t, the intent behind the words is true of his approach to manufacturing the Model T. His premise was that true innovation is best conducted when the customer is not involved. However his reluctance to understand the changes in the marketplace almost caused a terminal demise of the Ford Motor Company some years later when he refused to deviate from the design freeze on the Model T that had allowed him to drive down the cost of manufacture that had made them so successful.
For Ford, “there” was inspired and the Model T grew from just 10,000 cars manufactured in 1908 to over 450,000 cars just 7 years later in 1915, yet in the 1920s Ford had become so attached to this way of working that when General Motors introduced new ideas (a new dream) Ford’s market share fell from over 60% to around 15% in a few short years.
Although the initial dream was sufficiently compelling to move away from the status quo at the outset in 1908, that dream became the new status quo to which Ford had become too attached to leave behind in the mid 1920s.
For a dream to be successfully implemented there needs to be something attractive about the dream to make people want to pursue it, and there needs to be something that makes not going there sufficiently unattractive that people don’t want to stay put.
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.