Do you ever feel you are swimming upstream? Does it seem like a huge effort to make anything happen?

I want to tell you about a conference that I organized this past month. I learned the power of having an inspiring vision and the skills to direct and redirect attention to create success.

I was asked to lead a volunteer team to organize a conference for 100 people. At first I was reluctant… it was someone else’s idea and all I could see were obstacles. The venue that was suggested was new, we’d have to have a different venue for the lunch, we’d need to make it a full day conference not the usual half day, there was no easy parking. There were so many unknowns!

Then I visited the conference venue and loved it! I warned the team what we were taking on. Everyone agreed – let’s do it!

A few times during the preparations I found myself thinking…Oh this is so much work, why are we doing this, and then I caught myself, I am enjoying this!

After the event I sat down, exhausted but happy and contemplated how come this project was a success and fun.

Having a vision played a huge part. We had a vision that started as a skeleton of an idea and filled out as more people got involved and built different pieces…the lunch venue, how we could make a bare room into a room for the lunch, what our theme was, what the workshops for the day could be, who the workshop leaders could be, how we could tackle the parking issue. And then people gradually took responsibility for different pieces.

The sustained effort that we put in was really important. There were a lot of unknowns that we had to get information and advice on. How much would this piece cost? Could we afford to do that? Would people pay for that? Would we sell enough tickets? And through all this we were good at directing our attention. We kept our attention and efforts focused on things that mattered, the things that we could do something about and not on the things that we couldn’t control like the weather. A couple of weeks before the event we didn’t have many registrations and we could have started panicking. We redirected our attention away from the panic, kept up our marketing efforts and then the registrations started coming in.

And then the day came. The sun shone for us, everything came together.

What did I learn? The power of a vision. The power of sharing that vision and then holding onto the vision as we worked toward it. Asking for advice. Asking for help with the multitude of tasks. Always believing that we’d find the solution. Believing that people would come through on their promises. Sustaining the effort to create the vision. Directing attention to the important things.

How could you apply this to the things you’d like to create?