Begin with the End in Mind: Vision, Action, Passion

Begin with the End in Mind – Vision, Action, Passion
By Joey Ng

This article is a further look at one of the Habits (Begin with the End in Mind) in Stephen R. Covey’s work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

One can be very, very busy, and yet, achieve nothing. Why? Probably is because the ladder has all along been leaning against the wrong wall.

The fundamental of this habit centers on personal effectiveness. The belief is that by clarifying the future, one will make better use of the present.

Here’s how:

  1. Because one knows what he wants to achieve, he will be able to make better decisions. And better decisions will give better use of resources.
  2. Beginning with an End allows one to distinct what is important and what is urgent. What appears urgent might not be important at all. Failure to differentiate could lead to one neglecting the important while attending the urgent.
  3. An End provides the framework for the presents. Using End as the point of reference to lay your route map, providing an organized structure for one’s endeavors. With a structure, one will know where and how to maximized his resources. Example:  If one plans to knock off at 6.30pm, he would manage his work and time effectively to reach his End. Investment – if one End is to retire at 55 years old with $500,000 in the coffers, working backwards, he would know how much to put aside periodically.
  4. Peter Drucker:
     Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information.

    Feedback does not necessarily have to come from others. ‘End’ can be used to surface what one is good and not good at, identifying areas for improvement.

  5. Aligning End with reality – All things are created twice – once in the head, and once in action. Things changes in between. The more vivid the ‘End’, the easier it is to adapt to reality.

So far, the benefits mentioned highlight how having an End, a vivid one, promotes effectiveness and efficiency. The next 2 benefits are slightly different.

7. Compel Experimenting – because one knows what he wants and what he is doing, it gives him a reason to experiment with new methods and techniques in the name of achieving his goal. With no End in mind, any experiment will be directionless, filled with ambiguity.

8. Clarifying what one wants to achieve is the first step to Personal Mastery. Mastery is a process, not an End. Mastery involves extreme level of input, without identifying the End, they will be scattered and not focus on the key areas. Jack of all trades, master of none.

The ‘End’ in mind we have been referring to is the vision or goal one wants to achieve or create. The vision can be a set of targets, or it can be a sense of purpose. Whichever it is, it must be able to answer the question ‘What am I doing this for’.

‘Begin…’ is one way to increase personal effectiveness. However, vision alone will bring you nowhere. Action is the next step to bridge the present and the future, bringing the vision to life. Action also serves as a reminder of how realistic our ‘End’ is. If the effort yields no result over time, perhaps the vision needs recalibration.

Yet, there will be times when the question is neither on the practicality of the vision, nor the quality of the action, but, on the presence of passion. Vision without passion will see compliance. When one is complying, even towards a personal agenda, he will do just enough. The argument is, if the ‘End’ is achieve, isn’t doing ‘enough’ enough? In this sense, ‘enough’ is enough. But, when both vision and action are augment with passion, instead of compliance, one will experience commitment. Commitment brings about a sense of energy and excitement that cannot be generated by compliance. Passion sustains action. When a wall is hit, without passion, one will either stop on his tracks, or give up the journey. With passion and commitment, one will instigate ways around it, or even break it down.
References:

  1. The Fifth Discipline – the Art & Practice of the Learning Organisation (2006) by Peter M. Senge
  2. Eureka – Making Brilliant Ideas Happen (2004) by Philippa Davies
  3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (2004) by Stephen R. Covey
  4. The 80/20 Principle (2007) by Richard Koch