Monday, October 18, 2004

The Three Circles

I'm currently reading the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. I'm about halfway through and can already tell you that you definitely need to read this book...regardless of whether you are a business owner/CEO (the book's target audience) or not. Here's why: Based on exhaustive research, the book details what qualities lead to a company going from "good" to "great"--but these same principles have instant and immediate translatability to the personal level.

On a side note: I don't believe I have ever before in my life used the word "translatability." This is a first...which is pretty stunning when I think about how many words I have spoken and/or written since I was 9 months old. Truth is, I don't even know if "translatability" is a word at all. But you know what it means, right. So I guess that validates it.

Anyway, for example, take the book's analysis of the Three Circles. The three circles are basically three questions that any company (or person) should answer about themselves. The area where the answers to the three questions overlap becomes the Path you should follow in life to move from a "good life" to a "great life."

Here's a visual, scanned from my journal entry just this morning.

Posted by Hello

The top circle asks, "What am I really passionate about?" And you can see my answer there: "I am deeply passionate about helping people achieve their dreams...i.e. setting hearts free." I already knew this--in fact, my life purpose statement is: "To set hearts free." That's what I'm here for, that's what I'm called to do, and every goal I pursue must be directly tied to that simple, profound vision of purpose...or I won't do it.

The left circle asks, "What is my brilliance?" In other words, "What can you potentially do better than anyone else in the world?" This is a VERY tough question to answer, and requires both extreme honesty and extreme faith. On a personal level, it will undoubtedly also require the presence of several honest, insightful friends who are willing to tell you the way they see you--both the good and the bad.

Notice it doesn't ask, "What do you do NOW better than anyone else?" but rather "What can you potentially do better than anyone else?" The question assumes you haven't arrived at your goal yet...but demands that you think big about what's actually, honestly possible for you.

Finally, the right circle asks, "What runs your economic engine?" Translating this to a personal level might be to ask, "How do you make your money?" or "What generates the cash flow in your life?"

Once you have the answer to those three key questions, the next step is to look for a synergy between them...which then becomes your path to ultimate personal fulfillment (what Jim Collins calls "greatness").

But what if one of the questions is WAY out of sync with the others? For example, let's say you're brilliant at organizing people and systems, and your passionate about helping others succeed. Everything's good so far, right? But let's say that you currently make money as a technical writer. That seems way out of step with your passion and your brilliance. What do you do then?

Well, you should change careers--no question about it. That's the beauty of the Three Circles--they force you to consider BOLD action. After all, this isn't a "practice life." This is only shot you're going to get (yeah, yeah--unless you believe in reincarnation...but I don't), so you'd better make it count.

I'm working through these questions myself right now--particularly as it applies my work as a coach and a writer. I've got two out of the three questions answered, but I'm still exploring the third. (Guess which one!) What about you? When you look at these three questions in your own life, what do you notice?

I'd love to hear. Share your thoughts under "Ask a Coach" on my discussion boards.

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