In my day-to-day work I focus a great deal on concepts like strategy and learning at the organizational and market levels. Over time, I have also become increasingly interested in how these concepts, in combination with an overall sense of purpose, apply at the personal level.
“Strategy,” in particular, is intriguing at the personal level. We hear a lot about “purpose” – there are many books and whole movements based on it – and we increasingly here admonitions to be lifelong learners. (I’ve done my share of preaching about lifelong learning.)
But we hear much less about strategy. What does it mean to live life “strategically?” I plan to come back to the question a good bit over the coming months – I think it is essential for being a successful leader, teacher, and entrepreneur – but for the time being I’ll offer up the simple framework below to illustrate the intersection of purpose, strategy, and learning. This, for me, captures the essence of living life deliberately and intentionally.
The three circles might be summed up as:
- Purpose – the why, the driving force
- Strategy – the what, the objective
- Learning – the how, the ability to grow and adapt
If you have strategy and learning with no real purpose your progress will be slowed – if not killed entirely – by a lack of motivation.
If you have purpose and learning with no strategy, you may grow, but in mostly random and unfocused ways. (There is, of course, a place for this kind of serendipitous growth, but you probably don’t want it to be your primary way of approaching life or business.)
If you have strategy and purpose with no learning, you will not be able to adapt and change in appropriate ways over time.
The best place to be is “centered,” with an optimal blend of purpose, strategy, and learning. This, of course, applies as much to businesses as much as to individuals. And, of course, it is both easy to say and hard to do in both instances.