One of the stumbling blocks many women face in their careers does not come from anyone else – it comes from within.
Have you heard the story about JFK visiting NASA? The story goes that he met a janitor, and when he asked him what he did there, the janitor replied ‘I’m putting a man on the moon’.
I tell this story quite often, as I think it nicely sums up one of the key foundations for success – having a personal vision for business.
At one of my recent workshops, one of the delegates came up to me and said that she thought not everyone was a leader, or could be.
We are all leaders. Or at least have the potential to be, if we want to. And having a personal vision for what we do turns us all into leaders.
I believe it’s this vision, this ‘reason for being’, this inner drive, that sets those who feel successful apart from those who feel that there’s something lacking… that feeling of not quite being satisfied, but you can’t put your finger on what it is.
And I think this is true whether you work for yourself or other people.
Your vision is your big ‘why’. It’s the reason you get out of bed every morning. It’s the reason you tolerate a less than perfect job, low pay or difficult colleagues, because you recognise the role you’re in is a stepping-stone to fulfilling that vision.
It’s the reason you work 18 hours a day in your business, forgo holidays and plough every spare penny back into your dream.
A clear and compelling personal vision is a tremendous motivator. As a woman, it’s all too easy to lose sight of that vision as we juggle careers, families and other demands.
Understanding your vision will drive you and fuel you towards success.
Having your own vision and keeping it uppermost in your mind can help you to focus, pull you back to the centre when you drift off course and underpin your impact. It will help you to be more resilient when times get tough.
You’ll even walk and talk differently!
Your vision may start life as something quite long and wieldy. For it to be most effective, I’d challenge you to distill it into something you can sum up in one crisp sentence.
This is because you’ll be able to hold it in your head/heart more easily and articulate it to yourself and others at every opportunity (you can also have it as a screen saver/background on your phone).
So, how do you arrive at your personal vision?
You’ll need to consider your own values, skills and talents and the things you enjoy.
You’ll also need to be honest with yourself – and brave. Finding your personal vision may mean recognising that you’re not where you want to be, or doing what you want to be doing. And that can mean making changes.
Once you understand what your personal vision is, and you’ve distilled it into something you can utter in one sentence, then you can make sure everything you do is aligned to this.
Every career decision you make, every piece of professional development you undertake, every networking meeting you attend, every project you volunteer for, every minute you spend on social media, every investment you make, every role you apply for.
This works whether you are a CEO, running an SME, leading a team or on the first rung of your career fresh out of education.
My own distilled vision is this: To help more women sit at the table where decisions are made.