1 Developing a clear vision

1 Developing a clear vision

Hopefully we have got far enough into the book for you to have begun to believe that there is still a spark of entrepreneurship left in you that can be nurtured and developed. This chapter takes the first steps on that journey to self-realisation and the opportunity to do what you want to do with your life.

In Creating an Entrepreneurial Mindset we discussed the sort of characteristics that make up an entrepreneurial mindset. These characteristics were:

  • A clear and achievable vision
  • A vision where all the resources may not be in their control
  • Self-awareness
  • Confidence
  • Self motivation
  • A willingness to take calculated risks
  • A willingness to listen to others
  • A lack of fear of failure
  • A willingness to work hard

If we were honest, few of us actually have a clear and achievable vision that we have created ourselves. Indeed, mostly they are not a vision at all but could more readily be defined as expectations of others. These expectations are shaped much more by parents, teachers and peer groups than by our own thinking.

Ask yourself how often you have made the important decisions in your life. If you are pursuing a career, who was it really decided or persuaded you to follow that path? If you are still at school, who decided what subjects you should follow, and were they ones you wanted to follow or ones that they thought you would be best at? Who decided what hobbies would be open to you? Are you one of the boys that are forced to play football every week, not for fun, but so that parents can shout at you?

Ask yourself if you are really happy following the subjects or hobbies that were chosen for you or the career path you were expected to follow. If the answer is no and there is a desire to do something different then keep reading.

People have invented a term for young people like you that don’t follow the accepted norms and attempt to forge their own vision. We talk about ‘rebellious teenagers’ and the fact that it is a ‘phase that they will grow out of’!

At school they make judgments about future careers based not on desire or vision but on academic success. If you are good at sciences and happen to ride a horse then rest assured that the careers teacher will have you down as a veterinarian!

Peer group pressure also plays a part in establishing ‘your’ vision. People want you to conform to the norms of the group. For example, the decision of whether to buy or rent accommodation is determined as much by your social group as by your personal desire. Only the other day I met a parent who was incredulous that their children didn’t want them to make a present of a deposit on a property. There was little understanding that many young people today want to take advantage of the global world we live in rather than being tied to a single base.

The rest of this chapter is a process I originally developed for people who had been made redundant and is designed to help you, possibly for the first time, to build YOUR personal vision. These exercises work towards your personal definition of what you want to do with your life. Once there is a vision we can move on to the other entrepreneurial skills necessary to implement your vision.

The aim of these series of exercises is to help you to focus on the sort of person that you are, the values that are important and rewarding in your work and leisure times and the transferable skills that you have gained and would like to use in the future.

Importantly, it recognises that all of us have skills and values that will be different in every case. As a consequence we need to understand that we are not a failure just because our skills and values are different to the next person.

Often the creative person is derided because they are not academic in the accepted terms of the word. In reality the ‘academic’ person may not be as creative as the artistic person.

So starting out on these exercises it is important to know that there are no right answers. Actually, it may be truer to say that there are an infinite number of right answers. There is a unique set of right answers for each person that embarks upon them.

Perhaps for the first time in your life we are starting from a position that you are unique and that there is no one to compare you with. You do not have to live up to adult expectations, an older brother or sister or your best friend. This is the first step on the journey of eliminating cloning and re-inventing individuals.

So lets start with the first exercise.

Constructing a lifeline

When considering who you are now, it is interesting to look at the history that has shaped you. During this part of the exercise focus on the key events and people that come to mind, peaks and troughs, stresses, decisions made by you or for you. Bear in mind that your lifeline has to contain events that are important to you. For that reason it is impossible to tell you what sort of things to put on your lifeline. What may seem trivial to one person may be of great significance to you.

  1. Take a piece of blank paper and draw a line across it to represent your life so far. The shape of the line has no significance so draw the line the way you want it.
  2. One end of the line is when you were born and the other end is now.
  3. Mark key events along the line from as early as possible until now. Leave plenty of space between the years to fit memories as they flow.
  4. Look back at each event and put any symbols that are appropriate next to each one from the selection below:

    P

    Peak or High point

    V

    Trough or low point

    S

    Stressful

    R

    Risky

    Y

    Your choice

    X

    Not your choice

    What you will find is that activities throughout your life may well have more than one code against them. For example, an activity may be a high point and may have been risky and your choice. This would generate a set of codes of P, R, and Y.

    The more events you can put on the lifeline the better the analysis.

    You will already start to notice that this is not about external measures of achievement, but things that are important to you. What you may see as important may be trivial in someone else doing this exercise. That does not matter as this is all about you and your feelings and desires; no one else.

    What you will find with the lifeline is that consistent patterns will start to emerge. High points in your life will usually have similar patterns and low points will tend to have different but consistent patterns. You need to look at these and identify the patterns that lead to highs. It would be a good idea in constructing a future vision to construct one that is based on the characteristics that produce highs rather than lows.

    Note any thoughts, ideas or words that come to mind as you look at the final result. The following questions may help to stimulate this process:

    1. Are there any surprises?
    2. What sort of experiences are the peaks?
    3. What sort of experiences are the troughs?
    4. What are the main causes of stress?
    5. Do you take many risks?
    6. Is there a positive or negative outcome to the risk taking?
    7. Do you see any themes?
    8. Do you see any changes in pattern?

Make a note of what you learn about yourself and how you have been living your life until now. These notes can be useful for reflection later when considering your next course of action.

Understanding your work and leisure values

The aim of this part of the process is to help you to answer questions about what you want from your life such as:

  • How do I or would I like to spend my time
  • Where do I want to live and work
  • How important is money, status, security, etc.

Having identified the values that matter to you it becomes easier to make life more rewarding by making sure that you build them as far as possible into your future work and leisure vision.

Your work values

Print off the following list of 35 values and the header cards.

A WELL-KNOWN ORGANISATION

You like being part of a well-known organisation

PROMOTION

You like to work where there is a good chance of promotion

CHALLENGE

You enjoy being ‘stretched’ and given new problems to work on

ROUTINE

You like a work routine which is fairly predicable

PRESSURE

You like working to deadlines

COMMUNITY

You like to live in a place where you can get involved in the community

WORK WITH OTHERS

You like to work in a team alongside others

PHYSICAL CHALLENGE

You enjoy doing something that is physically demanding

WORK ALONE

You like to work on your own

ARTISTIC

You enjoy work involving drawing, designing, making music, making models, etc.

COMMUNICATION

You enjoy being able to express ideas well in writing or in speech

RECOGNITION

You do like people to appreciate you for work you do

SECURITY

It is important to know your work will always be there for you

CONTACT WITH PEOPLE

You enjoy having a lot of contact with people

PRECISE WORK

You like working at things which involve great care and concentration

HELP SOCIETY

You like to think that your work is producing something worthwhile for society

SUPERVISION

You enjoy being responsible for work done by others

PERSUADING PEOPLE

You enjoy persuading people to buy something or change their minds about something

LEARNING

It is important for you to learn new things

BEING EXPERT

You like being known as someone with special knowledge or skills

TIME FREEDOM

You prefer to be able to choose your own times for doing things, not having rigid working hours

FRIENDSHIP

You would or do like close friendships with people at work

FAST PACE

You enjoy working rapidly at a high pace

STATUS

You enjoy being in a position which leads other people to respect you

MAKING DECISIONS

It is important to you to have to make decisions about how things should be done, who should do it and when it should be done

CREATIVITY

Thinking up new ideas and ways of doing things is important to you

RISK

You like to take risks

EXCITEMENT

It is important for you to have a lot of excitement in your work

MONEY

Earning a large amount of money is important to you

HELPING OTHERS

It is important to you to help other people either individually or in groups, a part of your work

PLACE OF WORK

It is important that you work in the right part of the country for you

PEACE

You prefer to have few pressures or uncomfortable demands

VARIETY

You enjoy having lots of different things to do

COMPETITION

You enjoy competing against other people or groups

INDEPENDENCE

You like being able to work in the way you want, without others telling you what to do

IMPORTANT

OF SOME IMPORTANCE

QUITE IMPORTANT

VERY IMPORTANT

NOT IMPORTANT

Considering each of the 35 value cards, think about how important each one is in your paid work

Sort them into columns allowing a maximum of 8 cards in the ‘very important’ column

Use the blank cards provided to create any extra cards that you wish, and discard any printed cards that seem irrelevant. Rank the cards in the ‘very important’ column in order of importance.

When you are happy with the sort, complete the table below for paid work to provide a record of your actual work values at the current time.

This chart can be used as a checklist to compare any likely future work activities to your needs. It is also good to identify whether or not the work you do at the moment mirrors these values.

Work Values

Very Important

Quite Important

Not Important

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Your leisure values

Make a note of the things you do for leisure:

Repeat the card sort for leisure; some cards may need a little translation,

e.g. work alone = being alone.

When you have completed the sort, fill in the chart for leisure activities and consider how well your current activities fulfill the very important and important values.

Very Important

Quite Important

Not Important

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

How values change with time

Our ‘important’ values are key motivators for our life journey, but these journeys and values change as a result of life events, experiences and our changing self-image.

Spend a few minutes noting under the following headings, which values you think were or will be most important at different ages:

Age 18

Age 30

Age 45

Age 65

Looking back at these three ‘value’ exercises make a note of what you have learned about your values and needs.

Which of the values have changed with time and which have remained constant?

How well are you meeting your most important needs at work and in your leisure time?

Could this match be improved?

Transferable skills

Too much emphasis is paid to academic qualifications and not enough emphasis is paid to transferable skills. It is often difficult to fully identify the ‘transferable skills’ that we have because of the importance that is often placed on our role as a paid worker. We usually understand the skills that are directly related to our paid work, but it is more difficult to discover the underlying skills that really are transferable to other paid work and leisure activities in order to make our life more rewarding.

The following exercise is designed to help you to discover not only the skills that you have, but also the ones that you would like to use in future roles.

Over the page is another set of cards that you need to print off.

P

Drawing out people

T

Hand-eye co-ordination

T

Keeping physically fit

T

Using hand tools

T

Handling things with precision and speed

T

Assembling things

T

Fixing, repairing things

D

Analysing, dissecting, sorting and sifting through information or things

T

Building, constructing

T

Muscular co-ordination

D

Problem solving

T

Finding out how things work

T

Physically strong

D

Reviewing, evaluating

T

Driving car, motorbike

T

Quick physical reactions

D

Diagnosing, looking for problems

T

Manual dexterity

T

Using machine tools, sewing machine, lathe, power tools

D

Organising, classifying

D

Reading for facts

D

Following instructions, diagrams, blueprints

I

Creating, innovating, seeing alternatives

D

Researching, gathering information

I

Working creatively with colours

I

Sizing up a situation or person quickly and accurately

D

Calculating, computing

I

Fashioning or shaping things or materials

I

Reading for ideas

D

Memorising numbers

I

Working creatively with spaces, shapes or faces

I

Developing others’ ideas

D

Managing money, budgeting

I

Composing music

I

Conveying feelings or thoughts through body face and/or voice

D

Examining, observing, surveying, an eye for detail and accuracy

I

Improvising, adapting

I

Writing creatively

D

Taking an inventory

I

Designing things, events, learning situations

P

Conveying warmth and caring

P

Helping others

P

Taking first move in relationships

P

Promoting change

P

Giving credit to others, showing appreciation

P

Motivating people

P

Leading, directing others

P

Listening

P

Organising people

P

Showing sensitivity to others’ feelings

P

Selling, persuading, negotiating

P

Teaching, training

P

Performing in a group, on stage, in public, etc.

VERY COMPETENT

COMPETENT

ADEQUATE FOR TASK

UNDEVELOPED

Exercise:

Layout the four heading cards and sort the rest of the cards under these headings according to competency

Use the blank cards to write on any skills not listed. Discard any that you feel are irrelevant On the table over the page write down your skills under the headings ‘very competent’ and ‘competent’

From the remaining three columns note onto the table any that you would like to develop, then put the cards in these three columns to one side

Sort the ‘very competent’ and ‘competent’ piles into skills that you would like to use a lot, sometimes, rarely and note these on the table.

Transferable skills

Very Competent

Competent

Want to use a great deal

Would like to develop

Want to use sometimes

Want to use rarely or never

The skills that you have identified as ‘very competent’ and want to use a lot are your most transferable skills. Those that you have identified as ‘competent’ and want to use a lot are your next most transferable.

It does not mean that skills are not transferable because you do not want to use them. However, you will be less motivated to use these skills and find less satisfaction in using them.

Data, ideas, people and things

Each of the skill cards has a letter on it D, I, P, T. Look at your most transferable cards and transfer the letters into your chart to see in which categories most of your skills lie.

Explanations of the categories can be found below and you may find it interesting to consider the types of work or leisure activities that your choices indicate will be most rewarding foyou.

On the blank sheet that follows make a note about what you have learned about your transferable skills and which types of work or leisure activities will be most rewarding for you.

D = Data

These represent the kink of skills required to record, communicate, evaluate and organise facts or data about goods and services. People who like using these skills typically enjoy working with figures, systems and routines.

I = Ideas

These represent skills used in being creative, designing conceptual models and systems, experimenting with words, figures, music. People who like using these skills typically enjoy creating, discovering, interpreting, abstract thinking and synthesising.

P = People

These represent skills used in helping, informing, teaching, serving, persuading, entertaining, motivating, selling and directing other people. People who use these skills like to work towards changes in other people’s behaviour.

T = Things

These represent skills used in making, repairing, transporting, servicing. People with these skills like using tools and machinery and understanding how things work.

Building the vision

You now have all the necessary components to build your vision for your future life. You know what has worked well in the past from your lifeline, you know what values you want from work and leisure and you know what transferable skills you have that you want to use. Your next step is to write your fantasy life. Consider your life as a whole and outline your perfect life including pattern of work, where you would live, integration of work, home and social life, status, income, life style, etc.

Once you have written your fantasy life you need to ask yourself some questions.

  • What are the differences between fantasy and reality?
  • How much of the fantasy might be achievable now or in the future?
  • What are the barriers to achieving some of the fantasy?
  • How might these be overcome?
  • What consequences would there be for you and others in working towards this fantasy?
  • Would the pursuit of the fantasy be worth the consequences?
  • What objectives would you like to set for yourself on the basis of this exercise?

Having used this process with a large number of people one thing has consistently come out of the process. Although the gap between fantasy and reality may be large or it may be small, everyone seems able to identify a path to achieving that fantasy life. The next stage in the process is to develop the other skills to enable vision to move forward to reality.