Paint Your Picture

A long time before this all eventuated, I was introduced to the concept of a painted picture by Cameron Herold, founder of 1800 GOT JUNK. He spoke at an entrepreneur’s dinner and shared his personal painted picture along with a blank template to guide me to complete my own.

The point of the painted picture exercise is to pick a date sometime into the future, typically about three to five years away, write down how it looks, acts and feels to you. When others read it, they have a clear idea of how your future and the business they are in should look, act and feel. The template gives a range of aspects of success for the leader to describe including personal feelings, culture and spirit, brand and image, leadership, communication, customer service, programs, deliverables etc. I later saw Naomi Simson, founder of Red Balloon gift vouchers and panellist on The Shark Tank television show, use this concept successfully. So, I thought, why not try it for myself.

In 2012 I completed my first painted picture of how my business would look, act and feel in 31 December 2017. I discovered, that sharing these thoughts after years of containing them between my ears, was quite a liberating experience for me. It was a continued source of inspiration for me however by time March 2016 had come around, I wasn’t feeling any closer to my vision. It had nothing to do with the painted picture template, or the content I had created within it. Rather it was my limited capacity that stood in the way. I still felt strongly enough about my painted picture that I decided to use it to engage my new employee so he or she had a clear idea of what they were getting them self into.

The interesting factor about the painted picture is that it describes outcomes, not activity. This was an important approach for me because whilst I knew I was currently responsible for all activity in my business, there was no guarantee it was productive. I had developed habits around my limited capacity that might not survive in a team of two. I therefore needed to be open to change in this new relationship.

It is important to note that the painted picture, like a leader’s vision, is a living document. It needs constant referencing and importantly, constant refreshing. In 2017 I learned of an idea from Peter Docker, who works with Simon Sinek, the author of Start With Why. He facilitated a workshop after Sinek’s keynote for The Growth Faculty in Melbourne and showed the audience members how to create ‘why’ statements for themselves. He used the following formula:

Activity (What you do Monday to Friday) + Impact (The effect you have on other’s lives) = Your Why

After completing the workshop with Docker, my ‘why’ statement began to simplify. I already knew it in general terms, however to simplify it meant that others would understand it easily. I was clear to me that I needed to be an example of the leadership model I champion to others. To do otherwise would be hypocritical. Being a role model of The 15 Disciplines was what I must be every day in every way in order to inspire others to aspire to living the same example for others.  Inspiring through my example was my Monday to Friday agenda, every week of every year. The impact I wanted to have on other people’s lives was just as pure in my mind. I wanted them to aspire to be the same, so they could have an extraordinary impact on the lives of the people they influence.

My ‘why’ statement became ‘Inspire ordinary people to be extraordinary leaders’. I have always understood this about myself and the work I do. However, I have learned over time that I should never assume that others understand the same. I, like all leaders, must always be explicit when clarifying meaning and purpose for others. My ‘why’ statement and the reasoning behind it i.e. my painted picture, was therefore essential for hiring someone to assist me. Whoever I hired, needed to go on this journey with me. He or she needed to understand it, embrace it, be it and create activity within our business that ensures my ‘why’ statement and my painted picture eventuates. I now needed to get clarity on how I would measure our success.

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