I am currently working on a day-long, customized strategic foresight and leadership curriculum for the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (MHDD) National Training Center’s National Leadership Institute. MHDD’s National Training Center is a collaboration between the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Kentucky, University of Alaska Anchorage, and Utah State University.
One of the topics we will focus on is creating and leading what I call a Purposeful Future. This is a pivot from the preferred future I have learned about and talked about for years. Why? Years of my research, and that of many others, continues to reveal the importance of purpose.
Too many people keep their desires inside of them. They unwittingly pursue the Purposeless Future. This is the future that “just happens” because people opt to stay on the hamster wheel of life rather than taking the time to develop and pursue a purposeful future that they truly desire.
A clear sense of purpose this is especially important for women, as well as businesses, looking to reinvent themselves, innovate or create a different future than the one they think the present will support. Purpose is associated with longevity, health, vitality and the ability to innovate.
Which future are you choosing to pursue right now? Have you been purposeful in the pursuit of your future? Or, are you running default mode?? There is no judgment here! I have, and still do, struggle to get out of default mode – especially when life gets overly busy!
I would really enjoy learning from those who are pursuing their Purposeful Futures with wild abandon! Why did you decide to approach your life and/or business with purpose? How do you approach the intentional creation of a Purposeful Future?
I look forward to hearing from you!
Go Wild with Your Purposeful Future!
PS: Enjoy the article (below) by Singularity University’s Chipp Norcross. I completed a professional development certification with Singularity a couple of years ago and like to study their strategic foresight research and ideas for the future.
Is Purpose A Company’s Best Protection Against Disruption? – Singularity University
Are you optimizing for the industry you think you’re in, or for the actual service you’re providing to your customers? Your answer could indicate how likely it is that your company might be disrupted, notes SU’s Chipp Norcross.
The end of the year – and in this case the beginning of a new decade – is a great time to take stock of where you have been and where you want to go!
Milestones in time create the ideal moments to clear the challenges of the past, celebrate our wonderful memories and launch our dreams. Listen to your internal compass. Maybe you have been feeling stuck or have an internal knowing that it is time to do something different. If so, it is time to give yourself permission to consciously create and pursue the future you truly desire.
One of the first lessons we cover in F * School is giving ourselves permission to do whatever we truly want to experience, try or pursue on the path to our preferred future – the future we truly desire.
I have noticed the need to “give permission” in both individuals and in organizations, so I created a lesson to address this need. Many people tend to keep themselves mentally stuck or wait for someone else to give them permission to move forward with an idea, project or vacation (Yes-sometimes leaders really struggle with taking time off to recharge and renew).
I have been guilty of choosing to stay stuck at times. My amazing executive coach, Elise Auxier, pointed this out to me as I transitioned from my job to my business. Instead of waiting for some external person or force to give me permission to leave a long-time career that was no longer serving me, I had to take ownership of my life and do it myself. It took a series of bold, baby steps. And, it took a lot of support. Ultimately, I had to be the one to take action. I gave myself permission every step of the way. Was it always easy? No. Has it been totally worth it? Yes!
The process of giving yourself permission to move forward with your dreams and desires can be especially important if you are going through a time of change or transformation. I used the Permission Slip several times to help with my midlife metamorphosis. It took me a year to leave the place I had been at for twenty-five years. As a mentioned earlier, it was a process of bold, baby steps. It has taken some time; however, I am finally emerging as the person I have always wanted to truly become.
Give yourself permission to take steps forward, no matter how big or small, to experience your dreams and desires. Don’t choose to pursue what I call the Purposeless Future.
The Purposeless Future
Too many people keep their desires inside of them. They pursue what I call the Purposeless Future. This is the future that “just happens” because people opt to stay on the hamster wheel of life rather than taking the time to develop and pursue a purposeful future that they truly desire.
The future is not a straight path forward. Rather, there are many alternative futures. In the world of strategic foresight (futuring), we us a tool called the Cone of Possibilities to help people understand this concept. In the cone, there are multiple futures that can be described as:
Preferred: The desired future we choose to pursue
Possible: The wide range of events and possibilities over the course of time
Plausible: Futures that are possible but unlikely
Probable: Events and future scenarios that are likely to happen
Purposeless: The future that occurs without conscious intention
There are also two key assumptions about the future:
There are multiple futures. It is important to clarify your preferred future through a visioning process; however, you must also be willing to change course when necessary. Remember, life is not simply about achieving in the future — it is also about enjoying the present.
You influence the future through your true intent. Once you establish your preferred future, you must develop the beliefs, behaviors, mindset and actions to make it happen. If you do not truly believe in your preferred future, you will not consciously or subconsciously pursue it with true intent.
The Power of Honest Intentions
Our honest intentions are naturally supported by our beliefs and actions; therefore, all true intent is realized. Intentions become the outcome — they become your future. Your intentions serve as motivation and the source of actions and behaviors. Setting and pursuing false intentions can lead to a lack of interest and motivation, which typically ends in feelings of failure and self-doubt. Feelings of failure and self-doubt can seriously erode confidence and our sense of self-empowerment and success. Be genuine about your desired future and your intent to pursue it. If you honestly and consciously establish your true intentions, your beliefs, behaviors and mindset will align to create the outcome.
Dealing with Wild Cards
Sometimes, we experience Wild Cards — those unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that can impact our present and future. We might lose a job or have an unexpected health emergency. We might inherit a large sum of money or land a big client.
Wild Cards are a part of life, and we have to learn to deal with what comes our way.
Life is Not a Straight Line
There is no straight line to any future. As leaders of our own lives, it is important to take risks, learn from the challenges and celebrate the successes. Our preferred futures may ultimately look and feel a little different than we imagined; however, they may be even better than what our minds are capable of creating!
The Pace of Change
Wild Cards are unpredictable, unexpected and unforeseen happenings that we must deal with throughout the course of our lives; however, we are also living in a time of unprecedented change. Not only is technology evolving faster than ever – life is too. We are living longer and experiencing careers and families differently than ever before. We also feel like we need to always be “on” as we are constantly bombarded with the demands of life. This is especially true for people who are creating new ways of living and working.
All of this change can feel overwhelming and cause stress that undermines your potential. Don’t give into the hype! Change will continue to happen. The intention here is to create the positive change, and preferred future, that works best for you and your life. So, get give yourself permission to pursue your desired future!
WIN with Action!
Giving yourself permission to pursue your dream future is not about striving, working hard or struggling to make it happen. It is about the freedom to make decisions that work best for you. This exercise is about exploring how you personally WIN, and by WIN I mean let the process feel —
W = Wild = Free, Fulfilling and Fun!
You have the freedom to choose how to spend your life. Put your ego, external validation and the thoughts of others aside so you can be totally free and honest with yourself. Let your transformation be guided by self-honesty, personal fulfillment joy and fun!
I = Inspired = Explore with Energy and Excitement!
Anytime is a great time to explore new possibilities, so pursue your desired future in a way that gives you energy and feels exciting! If you are feeling a bit stuck, start asking yourself some questions designed to increase your self-awareness:
Where does your energy naturally flow?
What saps your energy?
What do you want to let go of doing, feeling or thinking?
What have you always wanted to do but have not yet tried?
This should be a process of experimenting and exploring. Remember, your true intentions will naturally lead to inspired actions.
N = Natural= Totally You.
Have you ever tried on a piece of clothing, looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow! This looks amazing!” It fit perfectly and the color made your face light up naturally. That is what the “N” in WIN should feel and be like. Write, do and explore what feels totally and completely like you. What comes to you without thinking about it? What have you been covering up or avoiding that is begging to be set free? What comes to you naturally — without effort or striving? What makes you feel alive and excited — taps into your intuition (that inner wisdom we all possess) and aligns with your soul?
It’s Time to WIN!
Download and complete the Permission Slip below. Take the time to give yourself permission to consciously create your future and experience your life by taking big leaps or bold, baby steps. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself permission to WIN and pursue your desired future!
Use extra Permission Slips if you need them. After you finish giving yourself permission to take consciously create your future by intentionally taking action, share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below! What steps did you decide to take? How did it feel? Whatever you want to share is absolutely welcome!
I look forward to hearing what you gave yourself permission to do, feel and experience to make your desired future a reality!
One of my favorite things to do is work with leaders who are eager to shape the future. I especially enjoy working with leaders in the $3 trillion healthcare space. Why? Their world is being disrupted at an increasingly rapid pace, and many leaders in this important industry are doing what they can to innovate and shape the future. I also appreciate the fact that women comprise a large portion (approximately 75%!) of the healthcare industry. When I help hospitals and other other healthcare organizations reinvent their futures, I am helping female leaders, their families and their communities. Thanks Western Healthcare Alliance and all involved for taking on this important conversation about leading innovation to help build a better future for all the people and communities your serve.
I had the wonderful opportunity to stretch myself yesterday on Pure Nebraska with Jon and Taryn Vanderford. I was all set to discuss the future of leadership with a focus on women. My goal was to point out the important contributions women have been making for a long time in the area of leadership. I also wanted to note that their contributions have often gone unrecognized, and that it is time to change the mindset and conversation around women and leadership. It is critical for us to redefine leadership while realizing that people want to connect with their purpose and issues that matter to them. I also wanted to talk about their participation in the growing #GigEconomy. Research by the National Women’s Business Council noted that 91% of female entrepreneurs are in businesses for themselves. I related this to their participation in growing #GigEconomy. Women are participating in the #GigEconomy in an effort to make economic gains while building lives they enjoy, which often involves balancing income generation with family time.
Let’s just say that the three minute segment went faster than I thought, and I did not make my key points very well. It was so different from recording videos that are edited. However, it was an amazing experience! I left thinking about all the ways I should have/could have, etc. Then, I realized how much of a stretch experience this was for me. Recording a live, three-minute segment was a first. I had fun, learned a lot and would love to do it again.
My experience yesterday reminded me of the importance of taking risks and enjoying the ride. I tend to be very critical of myself but also realize it is hard to do well when taking on new experiences. The point is to have the new experience! Being entrepreneurial requires us to take risks, learn, tweak and repeat. Was it perfect? No. Was it cool? Yes!
I am not sure I have been living entrepreneurially lately. The Pure Nebraska interview was a great reminder that I need to intentionally incorporate more risk into my everyday life! And, I have to live my mantra: Be You & Do Something Cool! Life should be lived as an amazing adventure.
Thanks Jon, Taryn and the Pure Nebraska crew for the opportunity! And, a BIG thanks to the Rural Futures team for your support and help getting the interview out to the world. You are all amazing!
Business is in the age of the “Empowered Consumer” who has a buffet of buying choices. Empowered consumers decide how they want to purchase goods and services. Big Data [collecting information (data) from multiple sources to detect trends, identify patterns and make decisions] is one tool that can be used to develop marketing campaigns, study human behaviors and determine patterns. It is also being used to examine and redesign various areas of the consumer experience.
Entrepreneurs and leaders can use Big Data to capitalize on consumer patterns and demands while creating more customized consumer experiences. Data is collected with every click, and some metrics can be used almost immediately. In 2014, Black Friday was November 28. Data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Black Friday Report was available almost immediately and was published on December 2, 2014. According to IBM, online Black Friday sales grew by 9.5 percent from 2013 to 2014. Retail ecommerce (orders via computer) and mcommerce (orders via mobile device) are predicted to increase by double-digit margins well into 2018 (eMarketer, 2014). Data demonstrates the continued growth of the digital marketplace, and rural businesses must find ways to capitalize on these trends.
The world is fast-becoming an “Add to Cart” society for anything and everything. Individuals are creating local, national and global communities of meaning and change that are self-selected and self-formed. Many of these same individuals are transforming commerce and communities in new and innovative ways. The definition of community is not limited to a physical location. Technology, combined with the need for meaning, self-expression and self-actualization, has created an increasingly decentralized marketplace.
People are choosing how to meet virtually, and when, where and whether or not to meet face-to-face. They are also connecting around common causes. Commerce, along with so many other areas of life, is becoming increasingly decentralized. Savvy consumers seek and create value they crave to transform their lives. Technology enables the delivery of information, goods and services anytime, anywhere, and from anyone in a way that makes sense while adding value to the lives of consumers.
For example, companies like Stitch Fix (http://www.StitchFix.com) initially get to know their customers with a personal style quiz and continue to gather information about the clientele every month by sending them personalized clothing selections. Orders are delivered to clients and customers pay only for what they keep. Stitch Fix tracks the feedback on likes and dislikes after every shipment and learns how to better serve its customers with the data it continuously collects.
Consumer demands are shaping the marketplace and future trends. Empowered consumers want unique experiences that add value to their lives. Future-focused leaders and entrepreneurs who ask and answer not, “What is the lifetime value of a customer?” but rather, “What value can we add to a lifetime?” will be in a better position to compete in the increasingly decentralized marketplace.
Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs and Leaders:
Connect and work together online and offline.Build your support network to generate ideas and get help growing your business. The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders help one another. I see this all of the time with authors too! They promote one another while helping each other grow their businesses and ideas.
Get rid of assumptions and use data to make decisions. Take a few ideas from places having success in the marketplace, such as Stitch Fix.
Future-Focused Entrepreneurs and Leaders:
Take Action with Cooperation, Creativity and Purpose
Interestingly enough, the hottest jobs at Facebook require a “human touch.” Why? Facebook is looking for people who can close sales because its revenue relies heavily on ads (Anders, 2014). Perhaps the most future-focused entrepreneurial leaders are blending “high human touch” with “high-tech” in new and interesting ways that holistically add value to the lives of others.
Future-focused, entrepreneurial leaders can use megatrends and technology to change the game of life. One person cannot do it alone in a world that continues to change at an increasingly rapid pace; rather, rural entrepreneurs should innovate in communities with a spirit of cooperation, creativity, and purpose. Together, with a common purpose, female entrepreneurs and leaders can examine megatrends, utilize emerging technologies, and monitor analytics while creating meaningful experiences and innovating rural businesses in ways not yet imagined.
Go Wild with the Decentralized Global Marketplace! Watch the video below for more details on how you can innovate your companies and communities with cooperation, creating and purpose!
PS: Share your thoughts, ideas and actions with the Ask Dr. Connie community. We would love to hear from you!
The tools and technologies that help people create their own businesses and design their lives in ways that best suit them, are also fueling Megatrend #2: Living with Purpose and Meaning. Purposeful living is shaping everything from healthcare to education.
Our society is quickly evolving into an era characterized by shared purpose and meaning. Personal fulfillment is a growing trend in business and entrepreneurship. People are looking to decrease their levels of stress and strengthen their healthy habits while finding greater fulfillment.
Ben & Jerry’s is an example of a company that integrates purpose and meaning into its core existence by creating “linked prosperity” for everyone involved with the business. The company supports “linked prosperity” by establishing and aligning social, product and economic missions (benjerry.com/values).
The Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend will continue to grow as the global population increases and places more demands on the planet’s limited natural resources. What does this mean for female entrepreneurs? They may be able to grow by connecting to people through purpose and meaning. Technology may be one way future-focused entrepreneurs can holistically add more purpose and meaning to the lives of both clients and employees.
For example, a forecast by Carbone and Nauth in The Futurist (2012) describes the evolution of the “cloud” from a repository or information to an intelligent resource that can help make decisions and provide assistance. They discuss the cloud evolving from a place to store data to an intelligent resource that will actively help people improve their lives:
Virtual agents will migrate from being an automated form of phone-based customer service to a personalized form of support and assistance that provides information and—more importantly—performs useful tasks. For example, such agents might design a weekly menu based on a family’s health profile, fitness goals, and eating preferences, and automatically order ingredients.
This forecast provides an example of how entrepreneurs can use technology to help their organizations innovate with a focus on the future. A transition from cloud-based computing to cloud-based living and learning is an opportunity for female entrepreneurs to create new profit centers and customer experiences while strengthening employee engagement in a more holistic manner.
Three trends supporting the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend include: 1) minimalism, 2) life increasingly flowing together instead of being compartmentalized into work, family, recreation, etc., and 3) the quest for greater well-being, health and vitality.
Minimalism is one of the trends shaping the Living with Purpose and Meaning megatrend because people are seeking less stuff and more life. Trend-setting places like the Silicon Valley have embraced minimalism, and this approach to living is influencing everything from living spaces, to workplaces and web design.
People are increasingly learning and living on the go in both the virtual and physical senses, which blurs the lines between family, self-care, work and play. Research has demonstrated that happiness is a precursor to success. These findings question the view that hard work will lead to success, which eventually leads to happiness. Raising levels of positivity in the present creates a “happiness advantage” in the brain, leading to better outcomes in the areas of education, business and well-being. To learn more, check out Shawn Achor’s 2011 TED Talk: The Happy Secret to Better Work.
How do these trends influence entrepreneurship? As more people want to connect with their purpose, find meaning in their lives, and increase their vitality, businesses and communities should take a more people-centered approach focused on meaning, well-being and the mind-body connection, supported by the right social networks, experiences and technologies. A few ideas might include:
Integrating holistic, healthy living and self-care principles into business practices in an effort to create better employee and customer experiences and to create more value in products and services.
Providing coaching for employees to help them uncover their purpose and to create strategies and structures to support meaningful actions designed to improve their careers and lives.
Adding physical activity and fun into the workday in an effort to stimulate creativity, decrease stress, build camaraderie and strengthen overall wellness.
It’s time to focus on the whole person and what life means to each individual. Helping people find their fulfillment, purpose and definition of success may provide future-focused leaders and entrepreneurs with tools to innovate their organizations and communities. Businesses should find new ways to add increased value to the lives of customers, employees and families. People can choose where they want to work, shop and live. They also choose how to invest their time and money. Businesses that add the most value, including those in rural areas, will have the competitive advantage.
Coaching Tips for Female Entrepreneurs:
Develop a clear purpose.Clarity of purpose creates a meaningful path to success. A great coaching tool to use: Create a vision board with your “why” in mind.
Define core values. A business should develop core values that truly represent its brand. Empowered consumers connect with brands and businesses that have core values similar to their own. Outline the core values of your business and what each value means. A great strategic plan can evolve from clear core values. Create visual images for each value and make your values public. Share them with world. They help tell your story.
Make self-care a priority.Physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being are all important. Successful entrepreneurs and their teams need time for creativity and a lot of energy to grow their ventures!
Get positive.A positive mindset has been scientifically proven to support everything from creativity and innovation to increased sales and employee engagement. If you need more help learning how to be more positive, begin coloring your way to happiness with Blue the Bee Learns to Be Happy! (Reimers-Hild and Wetizenkamp, 2015).
Practice gratitude. Keep a physical or digital journal and write in it daily. Writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for everyday will help your brain focus on the positive while helping your notice new opportunities!
Share the stories that enhance the brand with your team and your customers. Use social media platforms to create and present meaningful content worth reading and sharing. People connect with experiences and stories behind the products and services they use!
HAVE FUN! Fun is absolutely invaluable. It decreases stress and improves relationship. Fun is also a foundation to creativity and innovation. This is an area I expand upon in my first book, Go Wild with Confidence! (Reimers-Hild, 2013).
Check out the video below focusing on Megatrend 2: Living with Purpose and Meaning. And, let us know what you are doing to improve your life.
Go Wild with Your Future! And, as always-Be YOU and Do Something Cool!
I received the press release for the InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge in Lincoln, NE on March 26 and had to share it with all of you.
Go Wild with Your Creativity and Ideas, Support Women and Go For It!
Be You & Do Something Cool!
OMAHA–The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Nebraska District Office invites entrepreneurs with an idea or product to improve the lives of women and families to compete in Lincoln at the InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge.
The challenge is scheduled for March 26 starting at 11 a.m. at the Southeast Community College Entrepreneurship Center, 285 South 68th Street, Suite 214, Lincoln.
During the competition in Lincoln, contestants will offer a business plan pitch explaining their product or idea. The winner will be eligible to contend for one of the final ten national slots and a chance to win a cash prize in Washington, D.C. during National Small Business Week May 4-8.
The SBA wants to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America’s women and men by providing needed resources and technical assistance to business owners and innovators.
InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge is an engaging women business challenge in which the SBA will facilitate unearthing and empowering entrepreneurs.
The competition in Lincoln is open to entrepreneurs throughout Nebraska, both women and men, who are developing products or services that have a measurable positive impact on the lives of women and families, has the potential for commercialization, and fills a need in the marketplace. As demands on women and families grow in our society, the need for products, services, and technology addressing those needs increases.
For more information and for a complete list of rules and a formal application, please call Elizabeth Yearwood, Economic Development Specialist at the SBA, at (402) 221-7200 or email Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications must be completed and submitted no later than 4 p.m. March 16 to be eligible for the challenge in Lincoln March 26.