As a professional ballroom dancer and coach I have to keep everyone motivated — including myself. Spending god-awful amounts of money to travel the country and compete in a sport that is as difficult as gymnastics but as subjective as a beauty pageant often creates conversations and situations where assessing one’s vision, goals and actions are critical for long-term sustainability.
“Why is that person ahead of me?” or “How could I have gotten 6th in that performance, it was one of my best!” are echoes of feelings that have been expressed both in myself as well as my clients.
The truth is, life is like a dance competition. The most important things are subjective — success, love, wealth.
All of these things are abstract results that are different for everyone. What may be success to you may seem like a prison to me and vice versa. We’ve all heard the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and, what these sentiments point to is that life is, ultimately, what we make it.
But that assumes that you are engaging in making it. I often say to people, “Create or be Created” — the music of life will keep playing and you have no control over the tempo, but you can dance your heart out and make it a good one. If you decide to sit out and watch other people having fun, one day the band is going to stop playing and it will be time to go home — leaving you with memories of watching other people dance instead of having made your own.
Over the years of teaching and competing I’ve had to hone my skills in maintaining my ability to create the future both in myself as well as with my clients because, let’s face it, any place worth going to will come with a fair share of pitfalls, reasons and obstacles.
Most people quit one of two ways — before they ever start or shortly after starting. The number one reason? A weak connection to their future.
This can mean a few things. Some people have a hard time seeing the bigger picture — their vision — while others suffer in being able to create amazing ones but not see the small steps to get there and get disillusioned easily. As a coach I have to understand both sides and, through my years of practice, I’ve created a simple way to look at anything in life through something I call VGA Power: Vision, Goals, Actions.
The Big Picture
Take a piece of paper and lay it out horizontally. On the left write “Vision” and draw three lines moving to the right from it. Next write the word “Goal” at the end of each line. Leave enough space because for each Goal you are going to repeat the process by drawing 2 lines that move rightward and label those “Action.”
You should now have a sideways pyramid that flows from Vision to Goal to Action.
Now it gets even more fun. Draw a curved arrow that flows from your actions upward into your goals, and vice versa the other way back. The point? To see the relationship between the two.
This part is the most important, and if you do it for the whole chart (you will have a lot of lines everywhere so it may take a few times if you’re a perfectionist) you will see a critical part of the future creation process — that everything is related and causing everything else.
Traditionally, we assume that your Vision (long-term) will generate Goals(short-term) and those will create the Actions (now) that you need to take. This is still valid, but it is just one angle to a multi-dimensional puzzle. How do your actions support the Vision you are after? Once you’ve set a Goal and begun working on it, how does it need to adapt or change? Maybe halfway through doing all those Actions and completing all those Goals you have a change of heart and a different Vision arises. What then?
Thinking of this more as a fluid matrix allows you to constantly evaluate yourself in relation to both your past as well as your future. While we are creatures that plan and create based on time, the reality of the matter is that there is nothing else beside the present. That is all there is and all there ever will be — right here, right now.
Being able to relate that now consistently to where you came from as well as where you are going throughout the actualization process is key to fulfilling it and that’s what VGA Power is all about.