You don’t often find great leaders who accidentally created a successful business. They are intentional about designing their vision and then making it a reality.

Carson Executive Business Coach Gerry Herbison recently wrote in the Journal of Financial Planning that you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint. That’s just asking for wasted time and money. Rather, you use a blueprint.

If you’ve been a coaching member or been around the Carson network for some time, you know how we love blueprinting. Blueprinting helps you to develop a clear and inspiring vision for your firm and then gives you a framework for making that vision a reality by building a focused and effective plan.

Just because you may have heard about it – or probably even already done it a few times – don’t dismiss blueprinting as something in the past or something that is “too soft.” Even Carson’s founder and CEO Ron Carson reworked his blueprinting process multiple times in the past few decades to refocus his priorities, refine the company’s vision and remember what was most important to him personally and professionally.

Without taking the time for mindful reflection, we can’t lead our firms effectively into the future. Engaging in blueprinting is crucial for both your business and your personal life so that you can be more proactive, versus reactive.

Blueprinting is an undertaking that requires clarity and focus. And I’ll offer you ways to prepare for the process, the key ingredients to make it successful and when you’ll need to revisit it.

3 Steps to Prepare for Your Blueprinting

Mise en place is a French term meaning “setting in place.” Chefs use this concept to ensure their kitchen is prepared and everything is in its place so they can create their brilliant culinary masterpieces.

This type of preparation takes time, according to author and entrepreneur Jim Rohn. But that is time well spent because preparation is essential for success.

“Life seemingly does not wish to waste success on the unprepared,” he said in a talk. “The preparation for doing a workshop means you’re serious about the workshop, you want to make the best contribution. That kind of preparation is important.”

The same is true for blueprinting. You need to use the concept of mise en place and get everything ready to create your blueprinting masterpiece. Here are three steps to take to do that:

Step 1: Get clear on your why and the commitment. You should first know why you’re committed to working through blueprinting and know that it takes work. It can take about eight to 12 hours to intentionally and fully work through it. Many people start the process, but few complete it in the timeframe they initially intended because they didn’t have clarity on why they were committed to working through it.

Define the personal, meaningful and important reasons you want to go through the process. The clearer you can get on the specific personal reasons you want to do this work, the more likely you’re going to follow through with it.

Step 2: Block a full, offsite day. Block a full day on your calendar so nothing gets scheduled over it and plan to do your blueprinting away from the office so you can fully commit to working through it. When advisors work through blueprinting in the office, it’s more likely they’ll get interrupted by fires that need to be put out or just by someone knocking on their door. Go somewhere where you can have the space and time to really commit your focus and attention.

Step 3: Tell your team what is going on and why. Tell your team what you’re up to and let them know that blueprinting is part of your working-on-the-business time. The more your team understands the why of it, the less guilty you’ll feel about being out of the office. Many advisors won’t leave the office to do business development activities like blueprinting because they feel guilty that they’re out and their teams are in the office working. But understanding why this is important to your team and mission can ensure everybody is committed to giving it the time it needs. Also, let your team know not to reach out to you unless it’s an emergency. Reiterate that you’re going to be out of reach just for the day to do blueprinting.

The Five Ingredients of Blueprinting

You’ve applied the concept of mise en place, now you’re ready to create your masterpiece. You’re going to need five ingredients to make it perfect:

A big dream. Don’t limit yourself. You have to bring your big dreams and big imagination and turn off that voice in your head that feeds you limiting beliefs. You need to be in a space of anything is possible.

Energy. You have to bring the energy to the blueprinting process. Take a minute to ask yourself: What energizes me? Then do that thing the day of your blueprinting. If it’s going for a run, doing a morning yoga flow or meditating, do it! You have to be in the optimal mental, emotional and physical state to be able to bring the ideal level of energy it takes to dream big.

A different setting. As I explained in the previous section, you have to get out of the office to work through the blueprinting process. Turn off the phones, put on your out-of-office and find a space to dedicate the time and focus to blueprinting that it deserves.

Ample time. Take a whole day away from the office. Blueprinting isn’t something that can be completed in just a few hours. Sometimes, it’s an eight-hour, whole-day venture. Give yourself the time to be intentional and thoughtful.

An open mind. When you’re dreaming big, ideas might come to you that you’ve never had before. Or sometimes ideas don’t come at all and you have to dig deep. Either way, keep an open mind to whatever visions, ideas or goals pop up as you work.

Revisit Your Blueprint from Time to Time

Blueprinting isn’t a one-and-done event. Think about a chef – they don’t just make one culinary delight and call it done. No! They keep trying new things and revisiting old recipes to improve upon them. You should do the same. Revisit blueprinting when:

  • Changes happen. Your vision and mission evolve and change over time because changes happen in life and in business. Things happen externally – good and bad – that we have no control of. Challenging things come into our life and work, and when those changes occur, that’s a great time to revisit blueprinting and work through it again.
  • Challenges happen. Adversity comes up and we need to work through it. And if you have that internal desire to keep going, then you’re more likely to keep making the effort. Reviewing parts of your blueprinting guide on a more consistent basis – daily, weekly or monthly – is a great idea to keep you excited and focused on where you’re going.
  • You’re feeling lost or stuck. There are times when we all feel lost or stuck. This is when your blueprinting guide can help to rekindle that inner spirit and excitement that you initially had for your mission and the vision. It’s a great way to remind yourself of your core values and what’s most important for you and your life.

I like to recommend you revisit blueprinting on a regular cadence – ideally annually. This will help you and your team to have clarity for the year ahead and it’ll stoke that inner fire to keep burning.

Let’s Get to Work

Now that you’ve got everything in place and the ingredients to whip up a great blueprint, it’s time for you to fire up that inner spark.

Whether you decide to embark on the blueprinting journey annually or take it on a more frequent cadence, you must first do at least one blueprint! If you need help or guidance with the process, be in touch with your coach.

Blueprinting is the best way to be intentional about building the firm and business of your vision.

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