Listen to any elite athlete talk about achieving peak performance and you can bet the mortgage that visualisation is mentioned somewhere as one of the critical techniques.
In fact don’t even listen. Just watch. Watch someone like Amy Williams – Britain’s first woman in 58 years to win individual gold at a Winter Olympics – standing at the top of the skeleton bob run, and you know exactly what’s going on behind the crash helmet. She’s imagining pushing off for the perfect start, that first corner…
And I decided today that I was going to channel that same thinking to visualise the success of my current project.
You see, one of the big downsides about being something of an idealist is that you have to know when to rein in your enthusiasm – when it’s time to park your well-intentioned evangelism at the door and assume the mantle of Mr Pragmatic Head.
And nowhere is that more true than here in Saudi.
Some examples are obvious. For example, extolling the virtues of renewable energy in one of the world’s most oil-rich nations is likely to be an exercise in futility!
Others, though, are much more subtle.
For example, the uninitiated might look at the current paradigm of corporate responsibility here – essentially “CSR = charitable giving” (period!) – and make the assumption that the thinking just isn’t as advanced here as elsewhere.
Not true. (At least not entirely.)
It is far more a function of cultural traditions and religious duty that places massively greater emphasis on giving to those less fortunate than oneself. Indeed, the notion that a company might benefit commercially from taking a more systemic view of sustainability, and incorporating it into core business strategy, is almost a little distasteful.
So there’s an incredibly fine balance to be struck when talking about “materiality” and linking the company’s success with serving a higher social purpose – ensuring that the primary motivation is understood as contributing to the greater good of society.
And, ultimately, there’s a similarly fine balance to be struck between proposing something that is sufficiently new and different to achieve meaningful advantage (which is, after all, the goal of the project) and, at the same time, being sufficiently respectful of past activities and those cultural traditions.
I was beginning to question whether we were getting that balance right, and here’s where the visualisation comes in.
The litmus test?
Simple. I just imagined myself as the CEO, standing on the big stage several months from now, proudly launching our new strategy. What would he be saying?
Hardly revolutionary thinking, I know, but extremely helpful. ‘Cause, you know what…
I reckon we’re bang on!