“It can be really off-putting when you lose your way somehow.”
– Winnie the Pooh
Not to get too philosophical but most of our difficulties, in businesses and, more broadly, in life are firmly rooted in one thing — misalignment. This is not a new idea. In fact, many philosophies and belief systems explore this concept under one guise or another. You may have encountered phrases like true seeing, being awake and, even, in the zone. Ultimately, these revolve around aligning ourselves with the realities of our environment. When we do, we are not guaranteed success but we can increase our effectiveness and, maybe more importantly, our peace of mind.
While this is a simple thesis it may not be readily obvious. To get a better sense of it, let’s do a brief mental exercise. Think for a moment about the most significant business challenge you’re currently facing. Really take a moment before continuing and get it firmly fixed in your mind.
Now take a mental step back from the challenge your envisioning and imagine how it might be caused by a misalignment. For instance, maybe you’re having difficulties with a particular employee’s work or attitude. Could there be a lack of alignment between her capabilities and the job responsibilities of her role? Or, perhaps, a fundamental disconnect between her personal value system and that of your business culture or those of her coworkers? Similarly, you might be having trouble connecting with your customers. Is your marketing message aligned with their needs? Are your services provided in a way that meet their expectations? Do they sense that your communications align with the values you purport?
Try the same exercise again with another challenge in your life, either business or personal. As before, fix it in your mind and then identify a potential source of misalignment. Now, take the exercise a bit further and imagine one or two. Notice that we can generally identify one or more misalignment(s) as the potential culprit(s). At this point, the goal is not to definitively determine the cause, but to begin to see how we can reframe in terms of alignment. Of course, the same need for alignment applies equally to our opportunities, which are just our challenges seen in another light.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll delve more deeply into the power of this relatively simple concept and examine how recasting our challenges into an alignment framework can provide the platform to maximize our business and personal potential.