The compass matters more than the calendar

compass

Image credit : Lewis Howes – Leadership Compass

Today a guest post from my friend Jeff Raker of Level Up Leadership.

Jeff is a wonderful guy and a top swimming official in the USA. We met a number of years ago through world of international swim officials. When not volunteering in swimming, Jeff is a certified executive coach who develops leaders at all levels in business and in sports. Regular readers know that I am passionate about seeing the linkages between elite sports and elite business. Jeff and I therefore often exchange ideas and thoughts.

When I saw his latest post, and given that one of my phrases when helping clients set direction is “if you don’t know where you are going, all roads will take you there”, he kindly accepted my request to make this a guest post today.

Oh, and when I made the request, he shared this.

“The inspiration for the article comes from a phrase I either created or picked up somewhere (I know not where if I did). My wife, calligraphied it and I sit it in front of an actual compass on my desk:

“The compass matters more than the calendar. The direction you’re heading matters more than the speed with which you are getting there.”

So many applications of that thought.”

So, to Jeff’s post

The compass matters more than the calendar

I am a fan of the compass more than the calendar. Admittedly, I have a plan and when it doesn’t come together as quickly as I’d like to, the calendar is frustrating, perhaps disappointing. But I still love the compass more because it’s more important.

Compass questions matter more because they are about direction. If I hastily get somewhere but it’s not the right place, it’s not helpful. Another way to think about it is through the question: “Am I building an oak tree or a flower? One takes 3 months and is gone. The other takes 60 years and lasts.”

Companies and teams that lose sight of the compass heading in the midst of busyness and deadlines, will end up ineffective and unhelpful. The same goes for individuals. Each of us has our own True North, a direction that guides us, leading forward.

Here are two compass questions to consider:

(1) Am I making progress? Speed or lack thereof can be deceptive. Gauge direction. I recommend comparing month to month or quarter to quarter rather than daily or weekly.

One company might say that their compass is customer service while another says it is “to make money.” Choose your compass. Then decide what steps are defined as progress.

What does positive momentum look like? What will it take to get to the next level?

(2) What forces are ahead of me that may impact my course direction?

When an archer lets go of an arrow, it’s with the knowledge of what lies between the archer and the target: wind, elevation, distance all play a part.

What forces will push on your arrow as you launch it toward your target? Economic? Personnel? Politics? You can’t anticipate everything, nor can you avoid everything. You can however look ahead and make some adjustments.

By the way, there’s no way an individual or a company can ask all the right questions on their own. Closeness to the present circumstances distorts eyesight and understanding. Call in a Coach or Consultant.