Get your strate­gic mind work­ing

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - MOTIVATION - Mil­ton Kamwendo Hunt for Great­ness

WHAT is on your mind right now? I hope that it is some­thing big, bold and ex­cit­ing; for as you think and strate­gise, so you be­come. Strat­egy is not just an im­pres­sive doc­u­ment that is neatly typed out, demon­strat­ing your scholas­tic prow­ess, ticked as hav­ing been done then placed in some file and con­ve­niently for­got­ten un­til a year or so later. Strat­egy is not a mere pre­sen­ta­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion painful an­nual rit­ual that some or­gan­i­sa­tions do.

Strat­egy is a way of think­ing, am­pli­fy­ing fo­cus, clar­i­fy­ing goals, and mak­ing clear choices. In strat­egy, be­ing clear about what you are not go­ing to do is more im­por­tant than try­ing to do ev­ery­thing, be ev­ery­thing, and end­ing up do­ing noth­ing.

If some con­cept can­not sit clearly in your mind, it is not strate­gic. Claim­ing to have a game plan that you can­not re­mem­ber is an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity. Hav­ing a game plan that you do not use is wast­ing men­tal re­sources. Strat­egy is a game plan that is pre­sent in your mind as you play to win. Those who do not have a strat­egy just play to play, while those that have a strat­egy play to win.

You have a strat­egy when you have de­fined what your win­ning as­pi­ra­tion is, how you will play to win, where you will plan and what com­pe­ten­cies you need to be in the game and then to win. Hold you strat­egy with sus­pi­cion if you can not ex­plain it in sim­ple words, clearly with­out the aid of elab­o­rate and con­fus­ing pre­sen­ta­tions.

Eyes that look are all too com­mon, but eyes that see are truly strate­gic and pre­cious. Peo­ple just look­ing across the street to copy what­ever a com­peti­tor is do­ing are mis­tak­ing strat­egy with pho­to­copy­ing. Your strate­gic mind is the “eye of the mind” that al­lows you not just to look but to see with clar­ity, make def­i­ni­tions and ar­tic­u­late a clear path into the fu­ture.

Your en­ergy and re­sources will go in the di­rec­tion of your strate­gic at­ten­tion. Op­er­at­ing with­out a clear strat­egy shows that you are con­tent with self-preser­va­tion and not fly­ing. No air­craft ever takes off with­out a flight plan. To get your strate­gic mind, work­ing start by look­ing in­tently and you will see things that other peo­ple may have ig­nored or are not see­ing.

Look at the past and catch the “Sankofa”

When you look at the past, be in­ten­tional and re­move the blink­ers of pride from your eyes. Look to find what hap­pened, what you can learn and what you can build on. What worked in the past is a use­ful tram­po­line to help you spring higher. The knowl­edge and stud­ies done in the past is a use­ful strate­gic plat­form to build on. Not ev­ery­thing in the past should just be tossed away be­cause times have changed and bright lights are shin­ing.

Pre­cious lessons of the past are too im­por­tant to throw away in the name of blind progress. Cel­e­brate and build on what worked in the past and gave you wor­thy re­sults. Oth­er­wise you will keep dig­ging foun­da­tions, rather than build­ing go­ing up. Fit the wheel in the right place in­stead of rein­vent­ing it. Build on the things that worked in your past. Do not let your ego in­ter­fere with your clear think­ing. Catch your “Sankofa”.

Sankofa is a spe­cial African word from the Akan peo­ple of Ghana. The lit­eral trans­la­tion of the word and its sym­bol is “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of be­ing left be­hind in the past.”

The Sankofa is a myth­i­cal bird that has its feet firmly planted fac­ing for­ward whilst its head is turned back­wards. In some de­pic­tions, the bird is tak­ing an egg off its back. The Sankofa sym­bol­ises look­ing at the past in­tently, ex­am­in­ing it crit­i­cally, in­tel­li­gently and look­ing pa­tiently at the past to un­cover pre­cious “eggs” that you should be coura­geous enough to go back and get.

Strat­egy is a quest to build on your strate­gic DNA, dis­till lessons from the past, clar­ify your game plan and spring for­ward with de­ter­mi­na­tion. The Sankofa strat­egy play­book is: Face for­ward firmly, look back to learn, re­flect deeply, then take off in flight and seek to stay rel­e­vant. As you march for­ward and speed into the fu­ture, do not for­get the plat­forms that were built in the past and the knowl­edge as­sets of the past. There is no need to spend your en­ergy de­stroy­ing what you can be learn­ing from. Never throw away a book, burn a li­brary, avoid a mu­seum or ig­nore a per­son with ex­pe­ri­ence.

Res­cue from the past all the good you can and bring it into the pre­sent in or­der to make ac­cel­er­ated pos­i­tive progress. Fail­ing to learn from the past is giv­ing up your pre­cious eggs to oth­ers while you fail to ben­e­fit from them. The essence of the Sankofa mind­set is that you can­not let pre­cious lessons of the past just remain the past.

His­tory is too pre­cious to ig­nore and if you must carry any­thing from his­tory carry the best and most em­pow­er­ing parts. It is per­sonal mu­ti­la­tion and need­less suf­fer­ing to carry the hurts, mis­giv­ings, tox­i­c­ity and mis­takes of the past and im­port them into your cur­rent and fu­ture strate­gies. Knowl­edge gen­er­ated in the past is too pre­cious to just burn in the name of change and at the al­tar of pride. In­stead of dump­ing what worked in the past, a strate­gic mind seeks to ben­e­fit from the past and build on it. Learn­ing from the past is strate­gic wis­dom that al­lows you to build a strong fu­ture faster. Look in­side and find your “Owl” What strate­gic is­sues are on your mind? Stop cog­ging your mind with worry, neg­a­tiv­ity, bit­ter­ness, hate or any other toxic de­pen­den­cies that rob you of your en­ergy and mo­ti­va­tion. The fu­ture be­longs to those who are work­ing to pos­sess it, not those who are wor­ry­ing that they missed it. What keeps you awake at night is im­por­tant enough for your strate­gic re­flec­tion.

If any­thing is worth keeping, you awake at night, let it be en­ergy gen­er­at­ing, not stress in­duc­ing. Owls wisely fly at night and see in the dark. When an owl perches it­self near your win­dow and starts hoot­ing in the dead and dark night, your sleep is in­ter­rupted. Wake up to do some great think­ing, grate­ful that the owl woke you up to do some un­in­ter­rupted think­ing and strate­gic re­flec­tion. Do not waste any mo­ment that you get for quiet re­flec­tion. The key to strat­egy devel­op­ment is be­ing able to slow down, tune out the noise and hold deep re­flec­tions.

What strate­gic un­cer­tain­ties keep you awake at night? You do not have the lux­ury of re­lax­ing in the mid­dle of a storm as though noth­ing is hap­pen­ing. You do not need to have all the an­swers but you need to be clear of the strate­gic un­cer­tain­ties that keep you awake at night. A few good ques­tions and a blank page could be a good start­ing point.

Robert P. Bau­man, who used to be the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of SmithK­line Beecham in the 1990s once boldly stated that all newly-ap­pointed CEOs should ask five key ques­tions, namely: ◆ What are the ba­sic goals of the com­pany? ◆ What is the strat­egy for achiev­ing these goals? ◆ What are the fun­da­men­tal is­sues

fac­ing the com­pany? ◆ What is its cul­ture? ◆ And is the com­pany or­gan­ised in a way to sup­port the goals, is­sues and cul­ture?” These ques­tions are not just for new CEOs or just CEOs, but they are im­por­tant ques­tions that ev­ery team mem­ber in any or­gan­i­sa­tion should be seized with. Spend as much time as you need to get clar­ity on these ques­tions. In­stead of be­ing seized with fruit­less worry, be kept awake by strate­gic re­flec­tion.

What are the ba­sic goals that you are pur­su­ing? Strat­egy is not just about run­ning end­lessly with­out a clear di­rec­tion. It is the abil­ity to dis­till your fo­cus on the es­sen­tial goals and then put ac­tion and re­sources in the pur­suit of those goals that mat­ters. Big goals re­quire big fo­cus and big bold moves and this is what the big lead­er­ship bench needs. Chas­ing is not enough, be clear about what you are chas­ing and if chas­ing it is worth your time, at­ten­tion and re­sources. Chase some­thing big enough to jus­tify strate­gic think­ing.

Com­mit­ted to your great­ness.

Mil­ton Kamwendo is a lead­ing in­ter­na­tional trans­for­ma­tional and mo­ti­va­tional speaker, au­thor, and ex­ec­u­tive coach. He is a cut­ting strat­egy, team-build­ing and or­gan­i­sa­tion devel­op­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tor and con­sul­tant. His life pur­pose is to in­spire and pro­mote great­ness. He can be reached at: and Twit­ter: @Mil­tonKamwendo or What­sApp at: 0772422634. His web­site is:­

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