Finding Your Vision – A Call to Action

Nancy B. Alston

Our President is an example of a man who has taken his blinders off to see the potential that surrounds him. I expect that he will continue to teach us a lot about vision and action during his administration. In the meantime, here is my call to action – now is the time for YOU to focus on your potential and your vision AND take the action steps that will make your vision a reality.

The owner of a small shoe factory sends a young salesman to a developing nation. The salesman calls in and says “These people don’t wear shoes. I can’t sell anything. I am coming home.” A year later the factory owner sends another salesman, with a different attitude and perspective, to the same location. She calls in and says “These people don’t have shoes. This is an untapped market with unlimited potential. I am opening an office and hiring distributors.”

Think it can’t happen?

Until the 1970s the Swiss watch industry had a monopoly and a world-wide market share of about 90%. Then quartz technology was developed. Swiss manufacturers rejected the technology. However, the Japanese saw the potential. By 1978 quartz watches overtook mechanical watches in popularity and the Swiss watch industry plummeted into crisis. Many Swiss watch houses became insolvent and the industry suffered financially and psychologically. Today, most of us wear quartz watches that were made in Japan.

We all have blinders in our lines of vision and occasionally miss the potential opportunities that cross our paths each day. What can you do to adjust your vision so that you don’t miss the possibilities?

In the new economy some of us will not only survive, we will thrive. Others will wither. I believe that those who will succeed are those who have the ability to complete three key tasks:

o Reduce expenses. What worked during boom times will not work now. If it is too difficult for you to see what you can trim, sit down with someone else who doesn’t know that much about your life and/or business. Show them your expense spreadsheet. Explain where your money is going. Which expenses can you justify? Which ones seem out of line?

o Provide exemplary customer service. If you are an employee your employer is your customer. If you have a service business or a professional practice your customers are key to your success. Can you keep your customers happy? I am amazed at how often I encounter businesses that seem oblivious to the fact that if they don’t make their customers happy there is someone else waiting for the business.

o Create an out-of-the-box niche. Your out-of-the-box niche is what makes you stand out from the crowd. If you don’t have a niche and nothing in your industry calls to you, start studying your industry’s past, current, and emerging market trends. Do some market research by talking to targeted customer groups and find their unmet needs. Having a niche doesn’t mean you turn away other business. You can still take that business in. But, having a niche gives you a marketing target and expert status.

If you are struggling and the economy is making things difficult for you, now is the time to assess and readjust. And, if you are one of the fortunate ones still sailing smoothly, now is the time to assess and readjust – the world outside is changing fast. Here is an exercise that may help you.

1. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and give yourself permission to relax.

2. Gently, without judgments, fast-forward ahead one year, to December 31, 2010. Its been a great year. The best year of your life.

Focus on where you are, on what is happening, whom you are with, and how you are feeling. Allow yourself to see as much detail as possible.

Now, look back and get a mental picture of 2010. Reflect on your accomplishments, experiences and successes. What made this year so great?

When you are clear, begin to write what you see. You can use the following questions as a guide.

a. Where am I?

b. What am I doing?

c. What is my work?

d. How do I play?

e. What is different or surprising about me, my situation, and/or my environment?

f. What is the same?

g. What have I accomplished?

h. How am I spending my time?

i. What am I enjoying?

j. Who is with me?

k. Who is no longer a part of my life?

l. How much money do I have?

m. What else is important?

Now is the time to take your blinders off and use your vision to see the potential that surrounds you. As part of this assessment look at your expenses, your customer service, and your marketing niche/expertise. You can provide others with unique value. Go out there and do it!!

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