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Strategic Planning: A Gift and a Skill

So I’m getting out of the shower Saturday morning, and the phone rings.

At 6:30am. Highly unusual in my home.

It’s my sister. She lives in Arizona, so it was 3:30 in the morning where she was.

Had she not been so pleasant, I would have thought the world was on fire.

She called just to catch up, see what’s shakin’ and share a little news in her life. She didn’t know I was packing to get on a plane to D.C.

My sister works for an incredibly wonderful company and one of the highlights of the year was the fact that she exceeded corporate expectations by 132%.

So not only did she reach the goals attained by her company, she blew them out of the water.

And after I complimented her work ethic, I quickly joked that she just made it that much more difficult for herself the next year.

Then with all seriousness she revealed her strategic vision for the next 5 years – which didn’t include staying in her current position as a sales rep. We talked about management opportunities and things she’d like to pursue – all of which are still on the table – and she laid out a definitive vision of how she’d like the next few years to go.

In that moment, it occurred to me that my sister has an incredible gift of foresight.

She worked at AOL (I can say this now) during a time of “save the customer no matter what” and could see there was no profitability in that. She got out just before her head own was on the chopping block – and she was one of the top performers in her facility, probably in the country!

She’s always been two steps ahead (at least) when planning her career moves, and every time, her focus and determination have put her head and shoulders above everyone else in her organization.

As her sister, I’m uber proud. As a business owner, I’m impressed with her gift of vision and skill for strategic planning.

As a coach, I want to convey the lesson clearly to all of you: You can’t sit comfortably. Ever. Even if you’re outperforming your colleagues and besting your own performance by 130%, you can’t rest on your laurels.

You need to have a vision for yourself, your life, your future.

Most people don’t get into direct sales thinking they’re going to be at the top of the food chain someday. Oh sure, they may win some recognition, earn a few incentive trips, but the real, underlying reason for direct sales has nothing to do with being a direct seller.

We have some kind of vision for our lives and see Direct Sales as the vehicle to take us there.

This is what I talk about when I talk about your “what” being more powerful than your “why”.

Behind it all is some kind of vision of what you want your life to be like. How you see everything shaking out in the next few years – or at the end of your life, depending on how far out you plan.

I’ve learned that some people have an amazing GIFT for forethought and planning. It just comes naturally.

I’ve also learned that while my sister excels with the gift, I have learned the SKILL.

It’s work for me to plan. I have to think and process and sift out tons of ideas. My head gets so cloudy with all the “what if”s and bright ideas that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees – that’s one of the reasons for this Mastermind planning session. To help us clear out and focus on the ideas that are most impacftul and significant to ourselves and our businesses. And while you’re reading this, I’ll be heavy duty in the thick of it.

Once I get clear, as I’m sure is the case for most people, the planning almost takes care of itself.

So to all of you that say “I’m no good at planning”, I offer myself as the poster child of the unbalanced checkbook – even though I was a licensed financial planner, and the person who was voted most likely to succeed – and still feels the pressure of an unkept home.

This year I’ve already doubled my income – and tripled my profitability (probably quadrupled, but I don’t have the final numbers for the year yet). And you can talk income all day long – it’s the profit that counts. The key to all of that is clarity, focus and planning.

But as Robert Frost would say, I still have “miles to go before I sleep”. With strategy and planning, I too will leave this weekend with a forward look into how I want my life to be – instead of letting life happen to my business and to me.

Eat your heart out, sister mine!