It’s undoubtedly a western concept and the consistency is like the tides. Every year around June, business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals follow the school kids into a summer slowdown.
Most of them legitimately need a break from working hard and pouring themselves out for the sake of progress, so the summer is as good of time as any. Besides, the kids are home, the weather’s nice, and opportunities for fun are everywhere!
We’ll talk about all of the advantages there are to working hard during the summer another time, so for now let’s talk about the other phenomenon that occurs… the post-summer gear up.
Just like we learned as school children, the end of summer marks the time we have to get our heads and our butts back in gear to start working again. Our attention shifts from the pool to the P & L and our energy focuses on recapturing the pre-summer momentum. “How can I get going again?”
Here’s my question… If the year has 12 months and 7 of them are gone, should we really be looking backward to find something that doesn’t exist anymore?
The answer, if you were wondering, is NO. It is completely counterproductive to yearn for the same level of action and activity we had two months ago. More time is lost trying to recapture old momentum than it takes to create it new. Let’s focus forward.
If we’re focusing forward, where do we direct our attention?
The natural tendency is to focus on the end of the year and to finish strong. This isn’t a bad thought, but it puts us at a disadvantage. By concentrating on the end of the year, we find ourselves in need of new momentum at the open of the New Year. Second verse, same as the first.
To capture momentum quickly, give ourselves a great finish, and have to start over again in a few months we need to focus on the kind of year we want NEXT year to be. Does it seem like too much work to think that far ahead? I promise you, it is actually less work than the start-and-stop action we get into normally.
Whether you are a solopreneur, small business owner, commissioned sales person, line manager, middle manager, or Fortune 10 CEO, reality is the same. The year you will have in 2012 is being determined right now.
The quickest and most sure way to a great conclusion of 2011 is to answer the question, “What do I want 2012 to look like?”
“But PJ…I won’t know the answer to that until I see how 2011 shapes up.”
If that is on your mind, let me ask you to sort yourself with this statement. If you lead a company of any size and you can’t see past the end of this year to know what you would like the next to look like, you aren’t leading. By definition, leaders have followers. People follow others because they think they have a better view of what’s ahead.
Anyone can look at the end of the calendar. Leaders look beyond, determine where they want to go, and begin prepping everyone to make it happen. Are you willing to lead?
I’ll take that as a YES.
So answer the questions…
- What do I want 2012 to look like?
- Who will we be serving and how?
- What size and shape of our staff will best suit our growth?
- What do I want my role to look like?
- Are there new projects, products, or services on the way?
There may be more that come to mind. Answer them too. The point is to start forming the vision of where you want to go and mapping it back to where you are now. Accomplishing the steps you layout for 2011 while moving toward 2012 is the easiest way to have a great year-end.
This is the heart of strategic planning and is missing from a remarkable number of large corporations. Strategy sessions aren’t reserved for a 2-day offsite meeting in November. Frankly, that’s too late. If you haven’t begun intentionally shaping 2012 by the end of September, you’re behind.
Get to work now on your 2012 vision and 2011 will take care of itself. I’ll be working with a select few applicants on these issues and more in the 4th quarter session of SWITCH90 starting in September. We’ll open applications on August 26th so be watching.