So I had a Breakthrough Goal to earn $45,000 through poker in a year…so what? It wasn’t as if I had never set myself a goal before. I may not have written them all down, or shouted to everyone from my keyboard, but I had goals. In my past experiences I just used to hope that my goals would come true, and every now and then I would participate in a little bit of unplanned action to try and move the process along a little quicker. The net result of this methodology was a lot of broken personal promises and very little in the way of results.
Goals that are not written down are no different from letters sent to Santa
This time things were a little different. For the first time since the abortive attempts of schoolteachers I had some help. I had a mentor in the shape of my Success Principles coach Michelle O’Connell. We spoke about the process of identifying a goal and working backwards in time. Imagining that I had achieved the outcome – what would have been the necessary steps that would have carried my weary body to that point?
First, have a definite, clear practical ideal – a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends – wisdom, money, materials and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end – Aristotle
The linking of an activity to an end goal involves using a process known as brainstorming. I learned the word in school as I expect everybody else did, and the great thing about brainstorming is that anybody can do it, irrespective of how many framed certificates you have hanging on your white washed walls.
I used to brainstorm quite frequently in my former business. My team and I would gather in our offices and write all manner of ideas onto Post It notes and slap them onto the walls. So it was a familiar process but not one that I had used in my personal life. When I did introduce it into my personal life I used a piece of software called Mind Mapping by Tony Buzan. I loved using this piece of kit but you can use Post It notes or even crayons – it doesn’t matter as long as you transfer all of your ideas from your mind onto some visible apron. The key to a good brainstorming session is not to stop to ask questions but to make sure that all your ideas are placed onto the apron irrespective of how stupid or far-fetched you may think they are. It is also an excellent idea to have somebody to help you because the old adage two minds are better than one is certainly true when it comes to brainstorming.
We just remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history – Sonia Johnson.
Your brainstorming session is limitless in terms of time. You can set aside an hour or two to empty the core of your mind, but you will find that after the initial splurge, ideas will just come to you as naturally as rainwater falls from the sky in Manchester. For this reason I suggest you also retain a method of recording ideas instantaneously. I used to carry a Dictaphone but these days most mobile phones have voice recording equipment installed. I also recommend an app called Wunderlist, which is a great way of recording your ideas in the written word.
Have you used brainstorming to improve your personal life? Please share your success stories with us.
The first person to ever teach me to Brainstorm was an old CDT teacher called Quentin Jones. We had a little bit of a hate-hate relationship but I would love to meet him again, if only to apologise for my unruly behaviour as a child! He taught us to use the technique when trying to think of things to design. Back then we just used paper and pen to brainstorm and the whole class was involved. The movement between individual brainstorming and group brainstorming also taught me the valuable lessons that multiple minds can bring.
The next place I used brainstorming was in business. I used it sparingly through the years but stepped up a gear when I started to work closer with my biggest customer Corus. Corus were on a different level to my company when it came to training their employees and supporting them to bring what they had learned to the workplace. I learned so many wonderful processes that improved my brainstorming, during these years and I thank people like Martin Rees, Paul Bradshaw, Paul Harris and Gareth Duggan for their help and support.
Then in my personal life the inspiration came from my Success Principles Coach Michelle Connell. Michelle gave me confidence that I could use brainstorming to great success in my life and how right she was.
Photos courtesy of kozumel & zipckr (cc @ flickr.com)