Year-End Planning and the Impact of Tension on Success

Success appears to come so naturally for some while others struggle. What differentiates those who succeed from those who do not? I have written many articles about the importance of strategic planning, but today I would like to shed some light on another element beyond planning that can make or break success. This other component…

Success appears to come so naturally for some while others struggle. What differentiates those who succeed from those who do not? I have written many articles about the importance of strategic planning, but today I would like to shed some light on another element beyond planning that can make or break success.

This other component of success is one that I deal with extensively in my coaching practice- the challenge of change. Change is almost always required when implementing a forward-thinking strategic plan, yet as we all know can be extremely difficult. Interestingly, research has shown that what motivates people to change, or what holds them back, is the level of tension involved.

Tension, contrary to what you might suspect is not always a bad thing. People step up and stretch to do amazing things with a high level of challenge. However, if the level of tension involved in overcoming the challenge is perceived as too high, stress and often paralysis takes over. If the tension is too low people tend to become apathetic and lazy. Success requires getting the tension just right!

The level of tension involved in any set of activities can predict whether you will act to initiate change and do what it takes to climb over the hurdles along the way, or whether you will stay stuck. Every goal or activity has a perceived level of tension associated with it. Tension is comprised of a combination of three things; your ability, the perceived level of challenge, and how important you view the task.

The most successful companies have figured out how to set big goals and match them with the right set of abilities to get them done in a motivating way. As you go about putting together a roadmap for the coming year you can strengthen your ability to predict success by taking a closer look at the tension involved in what you strive to achieve.

Let's take a look at a real example.

A financial advisor is looking to attract new business prospects. One of their goals for the coming year is to launch a social media campaign. The project has been looming for some time and they decide to put it on their 2013 goals list. The owner views their ability to get this done as medium and the challenge as extremely high, creating a high level of tension.

Another one of their goals is to add a new level of certification to their impressive resume. While adding another credential is a great goal, in contrast to all of the other goals on their plate, they view the level of challenge as much lower, with their ability quite high, creating a very low level of tension.

Both of these goals are important, but are at risk compared to their other goals that have high levels of ability and challenge involved. Our attention naturally goes to the goals with high levels of tension- where we have the ability and it involves a big challenge.

By lowering or raising the level of tension involved in each of these goals, there will be a much higher likelihood of success. Getting outside help on the first task, and determining how to motivate them on the second would increase the chances of them succeeding on these goals.

If you are part of a team or a larger organization the perceptions of each member of the team around the level of ability, challenge and importance of a goal may look very different than your own. Gaining insight into the perceptions of others can be quite useful. As a business owner or manager if your team is not as engaged as you would like them to be, there is a high likelihood that it may be related to their received level of tension on specific goals.

A quick way of understanding how the concept of tension might come into play in your organization can be seen by taking a no-cost assessment developed around a standard set of strategic planning activities) at http://tinyurl.com/clvlkjh

Now is the perfect time to identify the largest areas of opportunity for your business. I look forward to hearing about your 2013 success.