In an article about how to rethink global strategy by, McKinsey & Company’s Pankaj Ghemawat, the author talks about correcting a “misperception reinforced by conventional ones: that the world looks the same regardless of the viewer’s vantage point or purpose.” His article goes on to present an innovative mapping methodology as a way to access new thinking about strategy. My wife and I recently spent a week in Tuscany with author, poet, naturalist and management consultant David Whyte who also addressed the strategic mind during our workshop. His invitation was to see if we could step beyond or set aside our strategic mind to be able to access a deeper sense of our true calling, vision or core motivation.
While Pankaj Ghemawat was seeking to assist the reader with employing his or her strategic mind in a different way versus David’s request to set it aside. Both were seeking to break through the sense that “the world looks the same regardless of the viewer’s vantage point or purpose.” To me Ghemawat’s approach was to shift the reader’s vantage point while the purpose - create a new global strategy - was assumed constant. David's intention was to focus directly on accessing purpose itself.
Perhaps you have never even thought about having a strategic mind. You may be wondering, “versus what other mind?” The strategic mind that we are focusing on here is the thought patterns that keep you focused on everything from “how am I going to get a front row seat” to all the other “how do I?” thoughts that run through your head every hour, most of which you probably don’t notice. Mostly these thoughts are part of your survival machinery. Nothing wrong with that. It would be hard to get home at night if your strategic mind wasn’t planning the route.
The question is, can you notice it operating and next can you stop it or at least slow it for long enough to engage in other, bigger picture questions like “what would I do if I weren’t afraid?” or “what is the next phase of my life about?” If you find that you can’t silence the strategic noise in your head, try journaling your thoughts, meditating, or listening to quieting music.
Why worry about it? Because it is valuable to shift your vantage point and clarify your purpose to achieve different outcomes in your life and work. As Ghemawat observes, it is a misconception that the world looks the same from all vantage points and purposes. In fact, I’d go so far as to assert that if you don’t change your mindset, do anything and the outcomes over time will be the same. By the same I mean at the same level of success or effectiveness.
Breakthroughs require shifting your vantage point or paradigm and having clarity of purpose. Slowing or silencing your strategic mind is a way to increase your access to clarity of purpose. That clarity will redirect the automaticity of your strategic mind in ways that are more consistent with your true intentions.