Especially in a difficult economy, our wishes can help us move forward. This issue of The Harper Report demystifies wishing and discusses how to use it on an ongoing basis to accelerate progress and improve business results.
While research groups routinely use wishing as a way to unleash creativity and problem solving, wishing is just as powerful for developing business objectives and strategy. Studies show that the more we open our minds to what we really want and commit to a course of action, the more likely it is that we’ll do what it takes to make our wishes come true.
There are three elements that must be in place in order for wishes to be effective:
- Imagination: In your wildest dreams, what do you wish would be happening? Would you be a celebrity? Would your company’s name be at the top of the Fortune 100 list? Would your products and services appear in every country in the world? For some people, giving themselves permission to let go like this can be difficult because it requires embracing the philosophy that it’s only by being unrealistic and silly that we can expand our thinking and find new possibilities. Serious, rational thought comes later in the process.
- The need behind the wish: Why do you want your wish? What problems would it solve? What opportunities would it open up? As you ask these and other questions, you may discover that the need behind the wish is actually broader and more far-reaching. This gives you more options for making your wish come true. For instance, you may find that instead of wishing to establish a presence in a particular country with high barriers to entry, your need is to establish a presence in a particular geographic region. At this point, you may have more options for making your wish come true by staying focused on the region rather than on the country.
- Passion: This is the force that fuels commitment and helps you overcome the inevitable obstacles that arise along the way. In fact, I’ve found that the degree to which a company meets its objectives is generally tied to the degree to which the CEO, executive team, and employees across the organization are living into their passion. Although entrepreneurs are famous for having passion, I’ve also seen larger organizations where people are equally as passionate about making their wishes come true.
Wishing is not only the basis for innovation; it can be a valuable tool for addressing strategic and tactical issues at all levels of your company.
Once you’ve committed to a wish that addresses your real needs, the next step in the process is making your wish come true. Here are three things you and your colleagues can do:
- Focus on why this wish makes sense: While it’s natural for others to object to ambitious objectives, you and your team must be clear about all the reasons why it does make sense to act on this wish. The more concrete and rational evidence you can use to support your case, the more your own confidence will build, along with the confidence of others.
- –Negotiate ongoing stakeholder buy-in: One of the keys to increasing your luck is telling others about what you’re trying to accomplish and negotiating their buy-in. The more engaged they are, the more they will help you identify opportunities that you may not have known about to move your wishes forward. Communicating frequently and credibly about progress will help you retain others’ ongoing commitment.
- –Brainstorm through the obstacles: Out-of-box thinking requires out-of-box problem solving. Working together with others who impact or will be impacted by your wish, generate a list of ideas that could help solve the problem. The more ideas you come up with, the more likely it is that one of them may be useful to address the issue.
Turning wishes into reality can’t be done in a vacuum. Engaging others in your wish and actively nurturing their involvement in the process is essential to success.
Obviously, a certain amount of making a wish come true is due to luck. However, we often give this element much more power than it deserves. Here are three ways you can improve your chances of making your wish come true:
- Take Prudent Risks: A prudent risk is one where the positive aspects outweigh the negative aspects of an action. You can further increase your luck by putting contingencies in place to handle potential problems that may arise.
- Develop a Positive Attitude: Focus on what can be done instead of what can’t be done. This increases your own and others’ resourcefulness and can open new opportunities – and thereby increase your luck.
- Set Milestones and Checkpoints: Keep track of your wish by linking it to important events that would show progress or a need to alter your course.
While we can’t totally control luck, we can do things to greatly improve the odds.