This little plaque was given to me as a gift by my wonderful friend Amy when I was going through a period of tough transition in my life. It is one of my favorite display items in my entryway at home, and a reminder, every time I look at it, to be proactive and think about where I am headed. Beginning with the end in mind is a habit most teachers are familiar with, as we create units of study for our students. For myself, I know I begin with my learning outcomes. The end is what I want my students to know and be able to do upon completion of the unit. It is from that point that I work backwards and plan my approach and our various learning experiences. This is a habit I embrace in my personal life as well. When I cook, I have an end in mind so that I can shop effectively and make sure I have all of the ingredients I need on hand. When I lace up my shoes and leave the house to go for a run, I usually have planned out my route and distance so that I can mentally prepare for enduring the run. As I head into a weekend with my children I usually have the same type of mental activity happening so that I can help to create an enjoyable and productive experience for our family, with everyone's desires and needs in mind.
As I think about this habit in terms of leadership and leading, I can clearly see why it is important. Beginning with the end in mind translates to Vision. The vision of a leader is the leader's guiding light. Vision is what guides decisions, actions, and behavior. As a leader I want to express my vision well. To do that I have to have thought about it and fleshed it out- become intimately acquainted with it myself, before I, and people within my sphere of influence begin the journey toward that ultimate vision. To do that I must dwell in the end for awhile before I begin. Then I can begin with the end in mind.
One thing I will say about this, though, is that while I already do live this habit, I also leave room in my action plan for growth and transformation of ideas. That is to say, along the way toward that ultimate vision many times the path will change a bit because new and better ideas evolve through collaboration and learning. I always leave room for inspiration and spontaneity. I think it comes with having a creative personality. I don't usually stray far from my ultimate vision, but I'm not afraid to allow wiggle room for growth.
My commitment this week in terms of teaching this habit is to stick with my favorite students: my children. Since we've begun our conversations around being proactive, we have had some awesome conversations! I'll save that for another post, but they are really interested in this idea of personal growth being something we can influence through our own habits. To summarize last night's dinner conversation over our weekly "Taco Tuesday"- they feel empowered that they can change some things about themselves. Kai mentioned liking that his bad habits "aren't genetic." Gotta love that! So this week we will talk about the habit of beginning with the end in mind. I don't have to remind them about it either. At breakfast and dinner they'll say, "Mom- don't forget we need to talk about that proactive stuff." At the end of last week I challenged them to teach the habit of being proactive to some of their friends ;-)