Leaders: Do Your Actions Bring You Closer to Your Vision?

by  Wendy Appel  |  Leadership Development

This morning I hung out my freshly washed clothes to dry in the sharp, hot Mallorcan sun. After 3.5 years, I was struck by the realization that I actually enjoy this weekly act.  Awaiting each batch of clean laundry is my funky royal blue clothes line strung between two orange trees. The process is so simple, yet it feels timeless and primitive.

I didn’t grow up hanging my clothes out to dry. We had a washing machine, and as an adult I had one too. But here and in many parts of Europe, this is normal. I now love folding my laundry and burying my nose in the fresh smell.

My decision to move to Mallorca was not an easy one. The San Francisco Bay Area had a strong pull, but myintense longing to slow down and simplify won out.

There have been tradeoffs, however. In order to reach out across the globe,  my computer and I have developed a very special and intimate relationship. Connections with friends, family, colleagues are through Skype. I fly away to work and network. There are many, many things I miss about my life in California.

My Home

Yet, I continue to choose here and live in a way that is congruent with my vision. By my daily choices, I choose simplicity. Social connection is spontaneous. For human contact, a stroll to the plaza ensures a meet-up with friends and acquaintances. “Holas” to Mr. postman and Marga the banker, and a wave to the butcher Joan as I pass his shop. Some days I pop into the sporting goods store for a chat with Karen or Michelle. Inevitably, someone wants to sit down for a coffee. Drew called today to invite a few of us over for tapas and drinks.

For food shopping and errands, I strap on my saddle bags and hop on my trusty steed–my bicycle–and I’m off to the market! Some weeks, I may use my car just once.

I pick lemons, oranges, figs, grapes, and plums from the orchard to eat on the day and friends drop by to join in the bounty.

I keep it simple. Small, uninteresting car. No mobile phone contract — pay as you go. No cable TV. Shop at the indoor market every other day–no freezer. I only buy things I really love–no clutter and minimal shopping. You see, I found that things started to own me instead of me owning them. My weekends used to be spent in the care and feeding of my things.

How did I get here? Motivated by my desire to live full-out / no regrets, and through a process of self-reflection, I decided to press the reset button on my career and narrow my focus while expanding my playing field.

Lurking inside me for years was a wish to live and work internationally. My university studies reflect this: Spanish and Ibero-American Studies, undergrad and Social and Cultural Anthropology MA. I chose to study what I captured my attention and imagination. Finally, that wish became a reality.

Action follows intention and attention.

Many of us react to what is most immediate and in front of us. Take time to step back and look inside. What is your purpose? What is your vision? What are your priorities and will they move you toward your vision?  How do you move through your day and does it reflect your purpose, priorities and values?

I realized that some of my long-standing patterns (habits, reactions, motivations) caused me pain and suffering. I became more transparent to myself and began, step-by-step, to shift my patterns. On my journey to grow and learn more about myself, to clarify my purpose and vision for this next era of my life, I spontaneously (truly) wrote a book: InsideOut Enneagram: The Game-Changing Guide for Leaders. The process of writing this book was life-altering.

At the same time, my professional vision became clear: to promote my brand globally and play on a larger stage; to bring my voice out in the world and to work with leaders to make a shift towards conscious leadership (the essence of my book).
Everyday I have to prioritize. It would be so easy to get swept off course. You see, we create our lives with every little and big decision. As leaders of organizations and in life, we create the results we get. Everyone is thrown curve balls, and some more than others. How we respond is what makes all the difference.

I challenge you to ask yourself as a leader of your organization and as a leader of your life:

“Is my vision clear and do I keep it in front of me at all times?”

Do the actions I take move me towards my vision?”

What’s your vision? Do you see yourself clearly in the picture? Do your words and actions demonstrate these priorities and do you offer clear direction to your organization and your team?

See Small Choices. Big Impact for a related post.



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Articles By wendy-appel
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What People Are Saying

Jon Mertz  |  31 Aug 2012  |  Reply

A very thoughtful post, Wendy. I like the phrase “It would be so easy to get swept off course.” How true! With a slight movement, we end up on an unintended path. Knowing our vision, keeping to it, adjusting consciously… all keep points to keep in mind in living and leading. Thanks! Jon

Karin Hurt  |  01 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Very interesting to hear about your authentic journey

Wendy Appel  |  01 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Hi Jon,
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You captured the essence!

Wendy Appel  |  01 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Thanks, Karin. It is ongoing …

Alan Derek Utley  |  01 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Wendy, great post, and how timely. Your questions are right on; but for me, the first question is “what is my vision?” Curious how this was defined for you. Was is accidental, like your book, or something you thought long and hard about? And how does someone who sees the potential of multiple visions – or directions – narrow things down to the right one? My fear is, with unclear direction one may end up nowhere. As Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Wendy Appel  |  01 Sep 2012  |  Reply

HI Alan,
In answer to your question, my vision has changed over the many years. However, my purpose has only clarified with time and my values have solidified. Those are the drivers out of which my vision emerges. So I would keep your purpose front and center and then give yourself time to reflect, explore and tune into your intuition so that your vision can surface. And it will change or come more clearly into focus as you continue on your journey. Enjoy the ride!
Thanks for stopping by to comment, Alan!

Suzanne  |  04 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Wendy, I love your desire to simplify things. I think that in the U.S. we have over-complicated our lives with all our stuff. What we can’t fit in our houses, we rent storage facilities to store our stuff that we are not using at the time. We we refocus our desires and really break it down to what our mean, we can get closer to our vision. Suzanne

Wendy Appel  |  12 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Hi Suzanne,
Thanks for your comment. It boils down to, “do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?” If we weren’t using our energy for the care and feeding of our “stuff,” would we redeploy it to bring us closer to our vision; to a life well lived?

Appreciate you stopping by to comment. Simply live.

Nouf  |  04 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Hello Wendy,
thank you very much for writing this article. i really enjoyed it. for me my vision in 5 years is so clear. and sometimes i find some opportunities which get my vision becomes slower and far of the way.
always remind myself of it!! have a strong base of principles in my life.
thank you a lot

Wendy Appel  |  12 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Hi Nouf,
It sounds like you have a great way to stay on track! Sometimes those other paths lead to something unimaginable. As long as you keep your vision and purpose clear, the path can go in many directions. So glad you enjoyed the post, Nouf.

Bill Fox  |  19 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Hi Wendy,

This is a great story and inspiring post! My love of flying and aerial photography caused me to take more time to step back and reflect on my world from 3,000 ft. Now it’s changed the whole trajectory of my life and career in ways I never could have imagined.

I’m ordering your book today and look forward to posting a review here!


Wendy Appel  |  02 Oct 2012  |  Reply

Thank you so much, Bill. I would love to know more about your shift in trajectory. Sounds like you have an inspiring tale to share.
I am delighted you ordered my book and can’t wait to read your review!! (and your own story :-))
My best,

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