One of my favourite personal development books is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Chapter 2 explains that you need to ‘begin with the end in mind’. Standard personal development stuff but explained in the classic Covey way. But please come with me on my slightly reinterpreted version:
Please find a place to read this where you can be alone and uninterrupted.
In your minds eye, see yourself going to the funeral parlour of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlour or chapel, parking the car and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of the people you know as you pass along the way. You feel the sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from hearts of the people there.
You walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket. You suddenly come face to face with your business. This is it’s funeral, three years from today. All these people have come here to honor your business, to express their feelings and appreciation for it’s life.
As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first used to be one of your employees, perhaps the middle manager from finance or personnel. The second used to be a customer. Not your sycophantic reference customer but perhaps one with a better perspective of how your business really was. The third used to be one of your suppliers. And the last person, was the security guard for your the building where your 5th and 6th floor office is based.
Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about your business and its life?
What type of character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements do you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?
This is a litmus test. Spend some time thinking about it. In a few years time you might just be thankful you did.
PS For added benefit, apply this to new products too!