Decide Where You Want to Go and Work Backwards
by Robin Anderson
When my son Bridger was three years old I asked him, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
He responded, “A paleontologist during the day and a professional steer wrestler at night.”
My initial response was, “Of course you do. That’s what all three year olds want to do…”
At six, Bridger began losing interest in dinosaurs and decided he would head straight toward the pro rodeo ranks and tear it up in the arena with his hero, four-time world champion steer wrestler Luke Branqhuino. Even at the age of six, Bridger had a few things figured out in life… more on that later.
I’m on a plane flying back from a great NTCA marketing committee meeting held in Waitsfield, Vermont by our good friends at Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom. Our group, made up of telecom marketing execs from across the U.S., had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by Ray Carey, CEO of NeoNova. Ray is a “big picture” guy who has had his hand in several telecom startups. In his talk, Ray discussed the model he uses when approaching business strategy. He said, “Push pause on where you are and start at the end. You need to decide where you want to go and work backwards.”
Ray’s theory is that you can’t possibly know what you need to be working on if you don’t know what you are working toward. Seems simple enough. But how many of us are actually practicing Ray’s advice in our business and furthermore, in life?
I had a conversation this morning with a good friend who is trying to help lead a telecom company through major growth. My friend gets it. He knows that the current strategy of putting out fires every day isn’t working and won’t yield the results the company needs to be successful long term. He’s challenging others on his team to hit pause, step back and ask the right questions… put a plan together and use it as a working document. My friend knows where his company needs to go and is working backward to get there.
Far too often, people recognize that change needs to be made, just as my friend does, but rather than do something about it they continue to talk about all of the reasons things aren’t going their way. Often, those same people are surrounded by other people complaining about similar things. Change can be tough. There is fear in change. Fear of the unknown. But the funny thing about doing the same thing over and over again is that you get the same results. If you find yourself in this position, step back, hit pause and start at the end.
Back to Bridger… For a 16 year-old punk, he has a pretty good head on his shoulders. He decided a long time ago where he wants to go. He has surrounded himself with guys who are successful at steer wrestling. Guys who have the right mental attitude in addition to the athletic ability. He doesn’t try to pretend that he knows everything about the sport, and he is always working to improve to reach his goal: to compete under the bright lights of Las Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo. Bridge also knows that to accomplish his goal will take a lot of cash and a flexible schedule, which is why he is also considering chiropractic school with hopes to one day own his own business. Bridger has been working backward to accomplish his personal goals for years. I can’t wait to watch him in Vegas.