FOREWORD: I began writing this blog post about a year ago. My intent was to share with project managers and others in the project community some concepts I learned from a mentor which I have used over the years to guide my direction and career. When project lessons learned became a compelling topic for me, I put this post aside thinking I would come back to it at some future point. The recent death of Louis Tice of The Pacific Institute was the impetus for returning to this blog post and sharing my thoughts with you. Lou was a great teacher, mentor and motivator in the area of “Achieving Your Potential” and “Investments in Excellence.” His principles have been passed on to individuals and organizations around the world and have created successful lives wherever they have been applied. Many of Lou’s principles and quotes have been used in my blog posts over the past couple of years because I really believe in his concepts and believe they apply to a vast array of human experiences in business, social, family and societal contexts. This blog post is dedicated to Louis Tice and I hope the principles of “affirmation” and “visualization” serve you very well in your career development.
Consider the meteoric rise of Dunkin’ Donuts in the last few years. Its brand is everywhere to be found now.
I recall a time when my daughter Christina was a student at Yale University in New Haven, CT. My wife and I would often fly into JFK in New York City and drive the I-95 to New Haven. Along the way, we always made Darien, CT a favorite stop. Darien was a sleepy but affluent community along the I-95 and the AMTRAK tracks to New York City. Each time we would plan to stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts shop on the main street in Darien. The shop was right next to the AMTRAK station so that customers were always coming and going on their way to or from New York City. We would always think about what type of donuts we would have and I could just taste the great coffee when I was driving I-95. Would it be a jelly filled donut and what flavor? We would always take a little bag of goodies to Christina who always claimed hardship with the food in the Morse College dining hall at Yale.
It was fun to watch the patrons of the donut shop rush in to place their orders and then run to catch a train. Or, in the evening when we were on our way back to JFK, we often stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a quick donut an coffee. People always seemed to be de-training from their trip from Grand Central Station to be picked up by a family member but also to stop and get a donut and coffee.
I am sure the workers behind the counter at the Dunkin’ Donuts shop never dreamt that someday their beloved shop name would be a common household brand known to many throughout the world.
But someone in that organization had to visualize what it would be like if they could someday rival Starbucks in name recognition. If somehow, the customers that frequented shops like the one in Darien would take that name Dunkin’ Donuts to a new height in the world of business. Lou Tice teaches us a basic principle that “People move toward and become like that which they think about.”
Someone thought about what Dunkin’ Donuts could be. They visualized how it would work. They gathered the impetus from their previous successful experiences and made Dunkin’ Donuts the name it is today.
Today the brand “Dunkin’ Donuts” is everywhere. Their coffee is sold not only in their stores but in other retail stores on the same shelves as Starbucks. Their brand presence is the result of someone clearly visualizing what a future might look like for such a brand and then proceeding to plan for it. Goal setting, expectations, performance measurement and feedback have clearly become elements of their continuous performance improvement framework. They are a living, breathing BRAND.
Lou Tice introduced me to a method of visualization and affirmation which I have used for many years. It is all based on the principle that you move toward and become like that which you think about and that your thoughts words control your future. It is also based on the principle that people act in accordance with the “truth” as they perceive it to be.
Visualization is exactly the method that got you where you are today. What you have achieved, what you currently believe, what aspirations you currently have were all conceived as you “thought” about and planned a path for your future. It is true that many people take paths in their lifetime that change directions or that were influenced by factors that they reacted to. But ultimately you are where you are today because you “visualized” what you wanted.
Lou Tice often pointed out that the amateur leaves to chance what the professional controls in this arena. In other words, the professional uses clear visualization and affirmations to stir their subconscious to create a future that they envision.
One of the distinguishing features of Lou Tice’s treatment of visualization and affirmation was his explanation of the “states” of being. Fore very aspect of life for which an individual sets a goal or objective, such as business, social, spiritual, intellectual, professional, etc., there are any number of states of likely possibility for that aspect of life. For example, suppose a person sees that his current situation is such that he cannot provide some of the finer things in life like vacations and special gifts to his family but his desire is to financially be able to do so, he can set objectives and goals for achieving that situation or “state” and then write affirmations and visualize so that the subconscious will create that new “state.” There are of course many possible “states” along the way between the current situation or “state” and the end objective “state.”
But often its the case that a person will look at his checkbook or bank account and realize that this current “state” is far from adequate to do the things he desires to do. The mistake is to focus on the current state because the subconscious will create that “state” continually by recognizing that it is the one being focused. The key is to affirm and visualize movement to a higher level “state’” in which the objectives and goals are reached. If this is the case, the person will create a subconscious energy to find the resources and the knowledge to reach that end “state.”
What does this have to do with project management? If you are a project manager who continually sees that your progress toward your professional or personal goals is not being met, you can adopt the visualization and affirmations methods of Lou Tice. I highly recommend that you spend a good amount of time assessing your goals and objectives in every major aspect of your life before you proceed with this course however.
Controlling your self talk is very important in the affirmation and visualization process. Self talk is that three dimensional form of words, thoughts, and actions that goes along with your daily activity. In the normal course of interacting with others, we talk and then tell ourselves a story about how are feeling about the activity we are engaged in. Or we react to the input of others and we tell ourselves a story about the activity. Self talk is very important in the development of the right self esteem that really controls our achievement of goals and objectives.
“Our present thoughts determine our future. So, if you want a better future, begin today. Use the power of your mind to first see the change, then live it. There is great power in purpose.” Louis Tice