I wanted to share a recent guest blog I was honored to publish for Josh at Quieted Waters.
Josh asked me to share my thoughts on the importance of finding a true north in any endeavor in your life.
— Ivan Pavlov
Whenever you embark on a journey, there are two things you need to determine. You need to figure out precisely where you are, and then its relevance to your final destination.
Navigators call it True North. Those two little pieces of data become the context of your entire adventure. When I talk about pinpointing your locations, I am speaking metaphorically. Where are you in the creative process? Whether you are starting a company, writing a song or launching a new product, one must plan for the journey. Without a place of origin and a clear picture of success, where you actually wind up is often a matter of random chance.
What Is True North For Your Initiative?
The main idea here is that you must acquire a True North or what you have determined to be the proverbial “promised land” for your initiative. An objective that is along the path to success should always be measured in its relation to the prize!
I could not imagine creating a plan or deriving a strategy without first knowing where I was. That requires an honest evaluation of the assets or liabilities I have at my disposal. Only then do I develop a plan for where I want to go. Everything else I do from that point onward should be in reference to that inventory and my picture of success. Elements of that inventory may change from decade to decade, year to year, or even quarter to quarter.
Although your business will grow and evolve, your destination rarely changes. Think about that picture often — so often that you are able to communicate and even illustrate it for others.
Just The Beginning
Ideas don’t stop with success. In fact, success enables you to be more creative than ever because the ideas are easier to fund. The important part of building upon proven ideas is that you do not allow your picture of success to change without serious contemplation and self-evaluation. Many successful people and products have lost their bearing and damage the picture by carelessly building on the foundation of previous success. New Coke anyone?
Ask yourself this question: How consistent is this new idea with the overall picture and general direction of my life and career? If it advances the direction and intensifies the picture, I then establish what I consider to be the milestones and timelines required for the journey. I then regularly reflect on my vision to make sure that I am moving in step with True North (my picture of success).
Paint Your Portrait
Many people experience only relative success as opposed to reaching their dreams because they never had a true picture of what they were after. They did not visualize it, right it down, and in turn, help others to see it as well.
Life will occasionally present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In the creative world, it is hard to know how many opportunities or flashes of brilliance will actually present themselves, but in those critical moments, you cannot afford to miscalculate by using the wrong set of metrics or by not knowing your definition of success, your True North.