The New Year brings gyms and workout classes filled to the brim with people who have set a new year’s resolution to get in shape. As a workout fiend myself, I love going to workout classes that are fun, but also tough and little painful. The fun keeps me engaged, but it’s the discomfort in the process that makes me stronger.
When debriefing a recent strategic planning project with our client, the CEO joked that the strategic planning process had been “mostly fun, and a little painful.” Our consulting team had brought up some tough questions that were uncomfortable for the organization’s leadership to confront, but ultimately important to figure out as the organization looks to the future. And the leadership’s efforts to think through those challenges will make the organization stronger.
The parallelism struck me. The point of strategic planning is to make an organization stronger in the long-term. It’s fun to think about the future, especially the opportunities. But, it can also be uncomfortable to face challenges and threats to the current way of doing business. For me, it’s fun to be active, but I’m not getting stronger if I’m not challenging myself. As workout instructors are always encouraging their classes, it’s the tough moments when we most want to quit that we are making the most progress towards our goals. And, upon finishing a workout, I always feel accomplished and glad I did work through the hardest parts. Our work can be like that of the instructors, and my hope is that every organization feels that sense of accomplishment and progress through strategic planning.