I was speaking at a culinary school a few months back upon the release of my book, Making the Cut: What Separates the Best From the Rest. (UPDATE: IF YOU WANT A SIGNED COPY I HAVE SOME AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME – CLICK HERE)

Afterwards I held a Q & A, one of my favorite ways to connect with an audience. After fielding a handful of questions on leadership, vision and creating an awesome career for yourself, a young lady raised her hand, asked a question and I responded.

The gist of it was this: she was looking for a summer job and was wondering if I could help her find one by tapping into my chef network. I asked her what kind of job she was looking for and her answer surprised me. She didn’t know. I can’t remember exactly how I answered her, but I know inside I was saying to myself, “why in the hell should I put myself out there by doing a favor for you if you don’t even have the slightest clue as to what you want to do with your career?.”

Vision: noun (in the context of creating a vision for your life, business, career): a vivid mental image, especially a fanciful one of the future.

The most important step to becoming a leader is one’s ability to create a compelling vision for their life, their career and their business. But, most of us don’t really do this. We want a job. We want to start a business to make money. We run our households and our kids grow up. We do all of these things, but we don’t create a vision. We don’t write it down. We don’t spend time thinking about and asking ourselves: “What do I want my life to look like 20 years from now? 10 years from now? 1 year from now?”

Until we ask these questions, we end up being pulled in different directions and reacting to the way life is around us, versus taking actually taking life by the horns, and figuring out what the proper steps are to move us closer to that vision.

I can’t seem to find the exact statistic that is floating around out there (all my research turned up different numbers), but you’re definitely 50% more likely to achieve your goals (perhaps 70%) if you write them down.

So the first step is to write down your goals for different parts of your life and business. Make them specific. Give them a timetable. Make sure that you can track them (i.e. don’t just say you want to lose weight …instead, say I want to lose 20 pounds by June).

Keep them somewhere close by so that you will see them regularly and remind yourself of them. Then, share them with someone you trust – your spouse, business partner, best friend – anyone that will hold you accountable.

This does a couple things:

  1. It helps give you clarity. To go back to the idea of losing weight, if you just let your friends know that you want to lose weight in the coming year, you aren’t going to hold yourself accountable, nor will the people around you. However, if you create the goal of losing 20 pounds by June, you’ll create an action plan around that.
  2. There is a part of our brain that is able to connect with the future outcomes that we want to create and that allows for us to, in a way, experience the outcome before we even get there. This reminds us of why we started in the first place and helps us to keep going when things aren’t going well. To better understand this concept, think about the last time you were really looking forward to something – a holiday with family, a vacation, or even when you were a kid on Christmas and you couldn’t wait to unwrap that favorite present that was waiting for you under the tree. When we envision something positive in the future that we are looking forward to (like a goal), we start imagining that thing coming into existence before it actually ever does. This is the reason why people say they sometimes enjoy planning an exciting vacation nearly as much as the vacation itself.

Creating a compelling vision for the various facets of your life is fundamental in being an effective leader, but you might ask yourself, how so?

Well, if we, as the leaders of our own businesses, families, careers, etc. don’t have a clear understanding for what we stand for and what path we want to go down, then people around us can’t buy into it, because there isn’t a real vision. They won’t understand what’s driving certain actions, behaviors, systems and processes.

For example, in a restaurant kitchen, it’s critically important to maintain consistency, but why? Well, without consistency, you don’t have a top notch product and as a result, you won’t attract the quality and number of customers you’d probably like, but also, that will inhibit you from maintaining stellar employees, because they won’t fully believe in the product they are selling.

So, you have to first create a vision and know why you have that vision. Then you must make it compelling for the people around you by clearly articulating what it is you stand for – why you have that vision and what it means to you. If you can get your staff to truly buy into what you stand for and as a result become ambassadors for your company (not just employees), it’s as a result of getting them to understand the vision you’ve created.

The long story short is this: if you want to be a leader, the first thing you need to do is create a vision, understand what’s driving that vision, and then clearly articulate that vision to your followers. Do that, and you’re well on your way to becoming the leader your team and organization needs.

If you want to learn more about my first book, I strongly suggest signing up for my email newsletter. Also, you can click on the front cover of the book that should be over here on the right somewhere (to this blog post) and I will send you the first couple chapters.

If you want to grab a signed copy of Making the Cut, Click HERE.

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