I was with the top management of a company the other day, discussing how to have continued success in the midst of chaos and change. We were using my framework of The 7 Cs of Success to tackle the issues. One topic that came up was how to prioritize when too much is happening at once and apparent chaos prevails.
The first point worth mentioning is this: Chaos creates confusion. Clarity begins to establish control. As we discussed this idea, we dwelt a bit on the first of my seven conditions of success, the one saying that, in any challenge, we need:
C1: A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
How do we get clear goals? Where do they come from? I pointed out that we often think we have a goal when all we have is a fantasy, a figment of the imagination floating in and out of our conscious minds. And sometimes, we think we have a goal when we have something stronger than a fantasy, but it's merely a desire, an inclination of the appetites, as philosophers have said. A goal can be suggested by a fantasy or a desire, but it isn't the same as either of these other things. Then what is it? It's a commitment of the will.
A commitment is an interesting thing. It's a decision and a new path of action. It embodies focus, conviction, and determination. If you don't have new actions in your life, or in your business ventures, you don't yet have a new goal. You may think you do, but unless you've made specific, concrete commitments, you don't - at least, yet.
We often speak of goals and values. What, then, is a value? You may say, "I value my family" or "I value growth" or "We value customer service," but what does that mean? A value isn't just an affirmation or a mild belief that something is good. A value is also a commitment of the will. If you don't have a real commitment to something, you don't have that thing as a value. You may like your family a lot, you may enjoy growth immensely, or see the need for good customer service, but unless you're committed to these things, they aren't really values for you.
So a value is a commitment of the will. And a goal is a commitment of the will. Then, what's the difference? It's simple. A value is a general commitment. A goal is more specific. Both are present and future oriented, and enriched by the past. But one is broad and the other is narrow. In fact, it's our values that best suggest, support, and guide our goals.
Everyone in a business needs to get as clear as possible on what the values of the company are. Only that can reliably lead to the right goals. Each of us needs to do the same in our personal lives. What are your values? What proper goals do they suggest, going forward?
In times of chaos and complexity, we can prioritize well only if we're clear on our goals and values. That clarity can create a new form of control and a personal command that's otherwise impossible to attain.
So think a bit on what your foundational commitments are, and about what your specific goals are.