Sometimes I ask my clients ‘what will it take for you to act on your idea or vision right now?’ Very often they will respond, ‘Gee, I would love to but…’ and finish with one of a litany of reasons why they need to wait. I have heard everything (and said some of these myself): ‘I need to finish my plan’, ‘I don’t have enough money’, ‘I am too busy’, ‘I am scared’ (the most honest of all the answers), and the catch-all ‘I don’t know what I want to do.’ All of these excuses (yes, they are excuses) seem highly justified at the time but they are, in reality, simply ways of avoiding our own fears.
When we take action toward our dreams we intuitively know that our life will change, and this generates fear. We are familiar with our life as it is today, and although we may not like it, we at least are comfortable with this reality. Taking action puts at risk all that we have become accustomed to, and so we avoid doing even those things we know will make us happy and successful.
The only way to move past this fear is to confront it. Look around you right now. What have you been avoiding that you KNOW would help you move forward? What small action can you take in that direction? What could you do RIGHT NOW to start this process? It may be sending an email or calling someone, or perhaps just writing one sentence of that book. Or maybe sketching a list of things that you know you want out of your life. My point is that there are many small things you can do right now to jar you out of your stasis.
If you want to achieve and move toward anything, there is a first step, then a second, and a third. All you need to do is choose to act RIGHT NOW toward your dreams. Then in every moment simply ask yourself again, what can I do NOW? And NOW? And NOW? Your small steps begin to add up until voila, you find yourself at your destination. Success is not an event…it is a process. Like drops of water wearing away a stone, so can you achieve anything if you take simple, moment by moment steps. Try this! Start NOW on something you desire…and watch what happens!
Leadership is a term that can mean a wide range of things to people. What does it mean to you? Who have been powerful leaders is your world? Who has created powerful vision for the organizations you’ve been a part of? Who has inspired the individuals within that organization to implement and move that vision into action?
Leadership encompasses a wide range of skills, but envisioning a powerful and inspiring path to focus an organization is a key component. But why is this not enough?
Establishing a vision, like all goals or great intentions, needs follow up and nurturing. This is where it gets a little trickier. It takes the engagement of the whole organization or at least a substantial part of it to bring it into fruition. What can a leader do to create the climate for this to happen?
- Beat the visionary drum. Repeating the vision, communicating it over and over in ways that truly inspire and engage people is necessary. A single pronouncement or publishing of that vision isn’t enough. It’s the repeat conversations about what it means on a daily basis that begin to create integration. Challenging the vision, practicing it, tweaking it and discussing it as experience is gained can enhance any brilliant idea.
- Allow it to morph. Vision is only as fresh and perfect as in the moment it is created, no matter how inspired it feels. Allowing the vision to have integrity, but change as circumstances evolve can give it longer life and allow for it to have true impact on an organization.
- Engage the next level of leadership to embody it, and inspire their teams to do the same. It is the ‘walking the talk’ at numerous levels of a business that create a real change. Hold yourself and your teams accountable for continuing to move towards the vision, while allowing them to make mistakes and get back on track. It’s an organizational skill to learn from mistakes in a healthy way and move on to do things better the next time.
- Revisit the organization’s progress, celebrate the wins and feed the beast. All things require sustained focus to be fully developed and vision is no different. Evaluate progress in part by watching for success. The attention to success and where things are going right aids the process and gives you opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate them.
While leading vision for an organization is not the only task of a leader, it is a powerful place worthy of attention and nurturance. Outlining a path for success requires cultivating focus on that vision for the long haul while inspiring a team to engage and implement it.
For the last eight years I have had the honor of presenting the R.R. Fordyce award at the Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group (PMRG) Institute held each fall. As Dick Fordyce’s daughter, it is a highly emotional evening for me.
Established in 1999, the R.R. Fordyce award is PMRG’s most prestigious award. It is given to the person who, like my father, exemplifies the principles of excellence, innovation, and integrity in pharmaceutical market research. Recipients have demonstrated an exemplary level of character, ethics, and leadership in their professional and personal lives. They have made an outstanding contribution to healthcare market research in their leadership, decision-making, and mentoring activities.
On the evening of the awards dinner each year, many of the people in attendance seek me out in order to share their stories about my father. I listen with a mix of joy and sadness. I knew him as a loving, family-focused father who I miss every day even sixteen years after his passing. But it also warms my heart to hear about the impact he had in the industry that he loved so much.
I have heard stories about how he had a direct impact on people’s choice of market research as a career; how he made C-suite associates see the importance and value of market research; how he mentored others not just by what he said but how he acted; and how so many looked to him for leadership especially during difficult situations. It is humbling to know that seventeen years after he retired, his legacy lives on. He made a difference in the industry and in the people he touched during his career.
My father has undoubtedly influenced my inevitably career choice. After spending ten years in other areas within healthcare, I started my own career in market research after his passing. I have find similar joy in the industry working with others to make a significant contribution. He continues to inspire me to learn new things, grow in the profession, and bring integrity to everything that I do.
Looking at the changing healthcare landscape, I can only hope others (and myself included) can continue to follow his example within healthcare market research.