This week I had a long train journey down to Welwyn Garden City and back, to run a session with the NHS. I absolutely love train travel because it feel a little more civilised than flying and it gives a lot of time to just sit and think and read. Over the course of the trips down and back (slightly aided by the fact that the train down was cancelled, then the replacement was late in leaving, then it got held up outside Doncaster because there was an incident on the preceding train to which the police had been called and we couldn't pass through the station until they'd arrived and dealt with it...) I finished a couple of books. I also spent some time reflecting, daydreaming and wondering where my life and my work might take me over the coming years.
The session I ran was to support a new team which was created from three existing teams being merged together. I've worked with other teams in similar situations and it's always a great opportunity to help groups start this new phase of their journey with a refreshed view of where they're trying to get to. What type of team do they want to build? How do they want it to feel to be a part of it? What sort of things do they want to achieve and how will they know they're moving in the right direction, reflect and (if necessary) course correct along the way?
Whenever an individual or a team has a vision for where they want to go, articulating and capturing that vision is a huge first step in getting there, but that's where the hard work begins. Because turning that vision into a reality requires work and it requires the building of habits. Some of these things might be small, particularly when they're interpersonal factors to create a high performing team, but they're crucial. At every stage, we need to ask ourselves, individually or as part of a team, do our habits match our expectations?
To put it another way, I saw a social media post this week from Jake Humphrey (of F1 coverage and High Performance Podcast fame) where he shared his belief that "Every decision you make is a vote for or against the person you're trying to be".
In other words, the decisions we make right now will either move us towards or away from the future version or ourselves or the team that we are trying to become. If we want to be a team who have a genuine care for one another, who work collaboratively, who have fun, who find the right blend of support and challenge, or who have any other characteristics or cultural elements, we need to make sure that at every opportunity, we each behave in the way that reflects this desire, in order that the cumulative effect of those micro behaviours and actions is a team just like the one we hold in our vision.
My reflections on the train(s) home, going from WGC, to Hitchin, to Peterborough and eventually home to Edinburgh, were of the decisions I'm making and the habits I'm building in my own life; as a professional, a coach, a husband, a father and more. Tomorrow, and all of my tomorrows until I'm gone, will be shaped in some small way by the decisions I'm making right now and it's a humbling thought to recognise it. Not only my tomorrows but those of the people around me. The way Harper views the men in her life and the types of relationships she has will be informed by her relationship with me and the relationship I have with my wife. The types of professional opportunities I get in the months and years to come will have their roots in the work I do today and the relationships I build right now. The experience of the players I coach as an American Football coach will be affected by the work I put in, learning, developing myself and preparing right now.
It can feel a bit overwhelming when you think of the influence of the little things on your whole life, so that's why having a clear vision for where you want to get to, or the type or person or team you want to be is so important. It makes every little decision easier - will this move me towards or away from the place I'm trying to get to?
What's your vision for yourself - as a professional, a parent, a partner or any of the other roles you hold? Take some time to articulate it and then ask yourself whether the things you've done today and the way you've behaved has taken you closer to the vision or further away.