Everything starts with direction
For centuries, many travelers looked to the night sky to see the North Star. Polaris has shown bright for millennia, illuminating the Northern Hemisphere with clarity and stability.
Sailors especially could rely on Polaris to determine their latitude. What a comfort to have at least one timeless anchor point during all the obstacles a voyager must face during long journeys.
In my work as a corporate consultant, we often ask organizational leaders to define their North Star. Without at least one clearly defined anchor, people are directionless. And without direction, we are adrift, unable to set priorities.
What about you? What is your North Star?
Entrepreneurs and business professionals need their own personal and professional Polaris. Once established, you can systematically work towards your purpose, passion, and goal(s).
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The Communication Kingdom Magna Carta
How do you go about creating such a lofty statement of purpose? In this article, I’m going to guide you through some steps to do just that.
We begin with some helpful guideposts I like to think of as the Magna Carta for Communication Kingdom.
You may not be familiar with the Magna Carta if you slept through history classes. No worries or judgment. As a former history professor, I am empowered to absolve you of your schooltime napping. Ego te absolvo, my friend.
Magna Carta simply means “great charter.” In history, this famous document was used in 1215 England to help get an unpopular king back on track.
Like I said in this site’s initial post, your King Communication can be good or bad, and you need the good version to achieve your goals.
Get off on the right foot by adopting these five creeds.
Your Personal Communication Charter
- Know Thyself: If you don’t know yourself, you’ll be a rudderless ship, unable to course correct even when you do clearly see the North Star. Be honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses, and motives.
- Know Your Audience: Serve the people! You don’t want an angry mob at your castle gate. Learn about the people you intend to work with. Understand their pain points and how you can help. Please don’t pander. Be sincere. It’s all about them. They are the hero. You are their guide.
- Present Attractive Offerings: Earn trust by showing people how you will help them. Be ready and able to say why your expertise will improve their life and solve their problems. Provide a picture of what their ultimate success will look like.
- Provide Clear Steps: Give your audience a plan. Show them the solid river stones they can step on to get across a rushing current of challenges and distractions. You must have a process for them, broken down into clear, repeatable steps. Help people get from where they are to where they want to go.
- Grant Speedy Successes: In other words, give people quick wins. What is something simple, a small step they can immediately take to bolster their confidence? Step 1 will be so simple that some people will already have it done. Great, they get to check a box and go to step 2.
Make your communication fall in line with these commands, and your kingdom will be off to a great start.
Define your brand
Since you are the hero in my story, I should go first and demonstrate these rules for you.
Goals without purpose and passion don’t mean much when it comes to achieving your greatest ambitions. Hopefully, you already have an idea of what drives you. Clear communication begins with clear thinking, so time invested in defining your “why” is well spent.
I can help you gain clarity if you’re stuck or still developing the full picture and will give you a couple prompts in a moment to help you do just that.
First, you might find it helpful to see this kind of thinking modeled, so I’ll share some of my reasoning for doing the work I do as an example.
Draft a sloppy manifesto
Let’s tackle those first two Magna Carta rules: know yourself and know your audience.
I began with three questions on my way to creating Communication Kingdom:
- What am I good at?
- What do I enjoy learning about?
- What need do people have in connection with the answer to those questions?
One clear, common denominator for me is communication.
Specifically, I love connecting with people. Every interaction is a different challenge but finding those connection points with others is powerful.
From there, I see an easy leap to all the people who struggle to connect with others.
With that idea as a starting point, I wanted to start defining a philosophy. I did some freewriting, just typing words without much thought, to see what might come out of my subconscious. Here’s a taste of what I wrote:
“I believe that we all have an opportunity to create great products and services for the common good. And I’m passionate about communication and how we engage one another. There’s a lack of community and neighborly existence these days, and interpersonal communication is so critical as is civility and inclusiveness. So I see future Leaders and thinkers as people who are trying to share important work, messages, products, services, and more and realize that as they succeed we all flourish, so I want to play a part in helping them along through the gifts that I have, which is first and foremost communication.”
It’s a bit of rambly manifesto talk, but it got me started.
You should try a similar experiment. You can type or handwrite or even record yourself speaking, but just start putting out words as fast as you can about the intersection of what you care about, what you’re good at, and how those things might help people.
Another question to ask yourself here is what do people tend to ask you for help with?
Your draft doesn’t have to be pretty. Just begin. You’ll find seeds of purpose in those words, some of which may even surprise you.
From guiding philosophy to purpose
Onto Magna Carta rule #3: present attractive offerings.
After pondering the above for a while, I realized how what we all really want and need to succeed comes down to influence. The way I figure it, if you have influence, then people are listening to you, which means you have an audience willing to act on what you say.
What if I could offer people ways to become more influential. That would be pretty attractive to many folks.
With all these thoughts floating around my brain, I articulated a decent North Star statement:
My North Star is helping people gain influence for good through communicating better and building meaningful relationships. My hope is that these relationships are profitable in multiple ways.
Could be cleaner, but I was beginning to define and refine a vision.
How might your statement look?
Take a stab at completing this statement for yourself:
I will help people _______ by showing them how to ____________ so that they can __________.
Use whatever phrasing you like, just keep experimenting until you begin to lock in on something true to who you are at your core.
Create a plan
Now you’re cooking with gas. By following the steps before now, you’re setting some lofty lights in the sky for others to see. Next comes the part where you being to imagine how to get them there.
Magna Carta rule #4 is to provide clear steps.
I decided that I was ultimately trying to help people in three areas:
- Messaging: what to say
- Speaking/Presenting: how to say it
- Connecting/Networking: who to say it to
Those are some meaty topics and a good start.
But I needed to systematize them further. What would be an oversimplified way to explain the steps people will take if they trust me as their guide?
Here’s what I came up with at first:
- Step 1: Create powerful messages
- Step 2: Present those messages like a pro
- Step 3: Gain influence with others
Not bad. I could work with this. I was feeling good about obeying the rules of Magna Carta to this point.
Your turn again: Break down everything you could teach into an oversimplified 3-5 step process.
Download your free guide Create Your Communication Plan: 6 Questions to Define Your Purpose, Audience & Offering
Long journeys and first steps
By the time you reach this point, you should be a long way towards explaining to your target audience what you can help them achieve and why it matters.
The balance of your job, then, becomes teaching how to do it.
You’ll basically spend your career earning trust, influence, and income through teaching the how. But you need to break down the process into something manageable.
We come to our fifth and final commandment. Magna Carta rule #5: grant speedy successes.
From my perspective, this entire article is designed to help you get a couple quick wins. If you’ve been following along and using the simple prompts above, you should already be well on your way to:
- defining your purpose
- clarifying your audience
- determining how you can help them
- dreaming about how your work will improve lives, including your own.
You may already even be outlining the steps one could take to achieve success in your system.
My hope is that I’m helping you take immediate actions that make you feel productive and hopeful. All of those things add up to speedy successes.
So, one last time, back over to you. How might you guide your people to get started? Where should they begin?
You should be able to home in on a good first step or two for others once you draft a North Star statement and outline some high-level steps for people to follow.
Help people get started down a path to success. They’ll appreciate you and begin to trust you more as a trusted guide.
Refine your approach
There are other corollaries to the five commands of the Communication Kingdom Magna Carta. For example:
- Always offer value.
- Aim for excellence not perfection.
- Exceed expectations whenever possible.
Just to name a few…
But the big five drive all our efforts.
- Know Thyself.
- Know Your Audience.
- Present Attractive Offerings.
- Provide Clear Steps.
- Grant Speedy Successes.
Ultimate success equals getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.
By doing the work outlined in this article, you’ll be ready with the right message (communication) for when you successfully get in front of the right people (marketing).
I’d love to hear what you’re working on!
Cover image: “King John Adds a Digital Signature to the Magna Carta, 1215” by Mike Licht on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)