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CIO Unplugged 1/1/13

December 31, 2012 Ed Marx 141 Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.

What Do I Stand For?

But I still wake up . . .
Oh Lord, I’m still not sure, what I stand for
What do I stand for? Oh what do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know any more.

I like the tune Some Nights by the indie alternative group fun. You can argue the meaning of the song, but the hook, “What do I stand for?” resonates with millions, including me.

The issue people struggle with most is discovering purpose in life. This is one topic I’m frequently invited to speak on and the one concern for which people often ask my help. In light of this, I’m revisiting a blog from a few years ago that I hope you’ll find practical.

I have no secret formula nor warrant that what worked for me and my family will work for you. Making life easy and eliminating challenge is not my goal. Living out purpose involves inherent trials. What I offer are principles and a process that will facilitate your journey into discovery and could possibly transform your life on different levels. I’ve shared these ideas for many years in different cultures and have witnessed dramatic change.

Let’s set the record straight: resolutions don’t work.

The first thing I ask those who ask for help is, “What’s your plan?” Such as, what is your mission, vision, values, objectives, etc. I’ve never received an articulate first-time response. But when I ask people about their organization’s plan, they’re quick to answer.

The dichotomy is evident. Why would you take the time to memorize and labor to achieve the plans of your organization but not do the same for yourself or your family? The good news: you already possess the tools and experience to close this gap. But it takes time, energy, and determination.

I finished grad school in 1989 with business planning concepts drilled in my brain. My company embraced these concepts, and I knew our execs jetted off to resorts to spend considerable time planning. Market performance confirmed a strong correlation.

For me, the disconnect came in hearing of their struggles on the personal side of the ledger. One particular Fortune article reinforced my thought process: “Why Grade ‘A’ Execs get an ‘F’ as Parents.” Having just started a family and career, I was searching for ways to have success in both.

Could I increase the odds of personal success by adopting business theory?

Our First Family Retreat

The Marx family’s strategic planning adventure began modestly. Short, inexpensive trips away from home reduced distraction and stimulated creativity. These trips morphed into more elaborate excursions, but the focus always remained on strategic planning.

12-31-2012 7-57-23 PM

Our first retreat in nearby Estes Park cost us about $100. We worked on a one-page plan that became known as the “Marx Family Constitution.” Originally written in 1990, it has withstood the test of time.

Since incorporating this process, we’ve all experienced dramatic increases in the quality of our careers and relationships. Our oldest, now age 25, had coached his college peers in these concepts. Not long ago, my wife heard our youngest, age 19, encourage her boyfriend to discover his life purpose and come up with a plan to live it out. Julie and I recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary and are still twitterpated.

I don’t have the space to share the numerous examples, but I can share the one that had the most impact. My son, age eight at the time, took a ruler and pointed to the values section of our Marx Family Constitution that hung prominently in our family room. “Dad,” he said, “was that honoring mom when you yelled?” Seven months prior, when deciding which six values needed improvement, he had contributed the word “honor.” He called me on it. Accountability!

We aim to live out what Rick Warren calls The Purpose Driven Life. Decisions on how to spend our time, energy, and resources are guided by past retreats. I could go back through 20 years of documentation and show you at least one significant event that happened each year in my career, marriage, and family. Could you?

Keeping it Fresh

Take annual retreats to focus on your plan. Get out of Dodge and spend time in a setting where beauty can inspire. A place free of distraction. As leader, your job is to facilitate.

WARNING: never force your ideas down the family’s throat. Instead, invite them to dream and evaluate. Kids especially need to think for themselves. Review your plan and encourage transparent dialogue about performance. Record the highlights of the previous year. What are the gaps and how do you close them? Include significant others and engage your kids. Teach them. Envision them — but NEVER do it FOR them. Commission them. Then watch them rock not only your world, but also the world around them.

Disney makes for great vacations. Planning retreats make for enabling identity and significance.

Take Action

Forget resolutions. They don’t work. No organization runs with resolutions. Market share would drop, and eventually you’d go bankrupt.

Schedule your first retreat and prepare to write, because earth-moving ideas existing ONLY in your head haven’t the magic to propel you forward. Write them out. Teach them. Actualize them. You only live once.

There’s nothing worse than going through planning exercises merely to have the plan collect dust. Create a living vision. When someone asks you a career or life question or you face a major decision, your purpose will keep you standing.

What do you stand for?

***If interested in creating a plan for your career, life, etc., leave a comment. I will send you a copy of my one-page strategic plans (personal, career, family). I will include a retreat guide designed to stimulate thoughts and ideas around your mission, vision, values and objectives as you put your plan together.

Ed Marx is a CIO currently working for a large integrated health system. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. Add a comment by clicking the link at the bottom of this post. You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook and you can follow him via Twitter — user name marxists.

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141 Responses to “CIO Unplugged 1/1/13”

Pages: [1] 2 » Show All

  1. 1
    Jack Kane Says:

    Thanks for the important reminder. I would love to see your family plan etc.

  2. 2
    M Cunningham Says:

    Great article. Would like to see the plan.

  3. 3
    Sharon Says:

    Your messages continue to inspire me. I would love to see your plan.

    Happy New Year!

  4. 4
    Shanno Werb Says:

    Hi Ed, I enjoy these ‘family strategic plan’ posts, would love to see it. Thanks!

  5. 5
    Kevin F Says:

    Ed, love the concept and was having a conversation today with my 8 year old on goals. Would love to see your plan to help with a model for a life plan. Especially love the idea of a planning retreat.

  6. 6
    Jamie Alford Says:

    Would love help with a family plan! Being a single parent takes lots of love and a good plan!!! Thank you Ed!

  7. 7
    Judy Van Norman Says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. Would love to see your personal and family plans. Happy New Year, Ed.

  8. 8
    Dawn Says:

    Enjoyed your post and would like to see your plan and retreat guide. I should have tried this with my family before now, but would like to try now. My 8 year old daughter would probably enlighten me. Happy new year to you and your family.

  9. 9
    Julie Says:

    Excellent ideas. I’d like to see the plan.

  10. 10
    His talk reader Says:

    Great idea to kick off the new year. Would love to see a copy if your plan!

  11. 11
    H Chong Says:

    My nieces have taught me to write long and short term plans. I have encouraged my colleagues to do likewise. Would love to compare your plan with what I have learned. I always look forward to reading your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  12. 12
    Maqbool Says:

    Great read to start the new year. Love to see your plan. Thanks.

  13. 13
    Scott Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Please share your draft. Happy New Year!

  14. 14
    Robb Says:

    Would be interested to see your family plan and guide. Work is easy compared to single parenting! Happy New Year Ed

  15. 15
    Andy Crowder Says:

    Great reminder. Thanks for sharing.

  16. 16

    Would love to see your plan.

  17. 17
    Joe Yelanich Says:

    Always inspiring Ed. Please share.

  18. 18
    Joe Yelanich Says:

    Correct email this time!

  19. 19
    RBA Says:

    Excellent post, Ed, on a too frequently overlooked aspect of our lives. A copy of the material you referenced would be greatly appreciated.

  20. 20
    Brandon Says:

    Love it. So important!

  21. 21
    Cindy Wright Says:

    The strategic plan. A necessity to reaching ones goals and timely topic for January. Love how you’ve applied to your family. Inspiring. Thank you, Ed.

  22. 22
    Ram Says:

    Great article – would love to see your plan. at the retreat do you set aside time for discussing purpose and vision.

  23. 23
    Mike Says:

    Very interesting idea. Would love to see the plan.

  24. 24
    Shannon Says:

    Please share Ed

  25. 25
    Brenda Says:

    I listened to you speak at the CIO conference a few years ago and was inspired and impressed. I would love to see the plan.

  26. 26
    Jeff W Says:

    Thank you Ed for sharing your personal thoughts on HIStalk. I would love to see your personal strategic plan.

  27. 27
    Ekwabet Says:

    Great post! Thank you for sharing!

  28. 28
    Jenny Says:

    Your posts are always so inspiring to me, thank you! I’d love a copy of your plan.

  29. 29
    Susan W Says:

    I absolutely would love a copy of your plan etc. I am now of the belief that it is never too late. I love your posts, they have been very thought provoking.

  30. 30
    Padraig Says:

    Ausgezeichnet, Landsman, und ein glueckliches Neues Jahr! Bitte, schick mir den Plan! Padraig

  31. 31
    Brian L Says:

    Thanks for sharing. I would love to see the plan.

  32. 32
    Sajal M Says:

    Loved your post. Would love to get a copy of your plan.

  33. 33
    Joe B Says:

    Would love to see the plan…..some other good ones out there too….

  34. 34
    Kelly Capo Says:

    Another great article!! Would love to see the Plan!.



  35. 35
    Wayne Wilder Says:

    As usual, you share valuable “gems” for us to all to consider.

    Thank you for continuing your inspirational work… 🙂

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!

  36. 36
    Bettina Says:

    Insightful and fitting to read on New Year’s Day; I’d be grateful for a copy of your plan and retreat guide. Thank you!

  37. 37
    b-rad Says:

    Thanks, would love to see you plan.

  38. 38
    TS Says:

    Thank you for sharing, I would love to receive a copy.

  39. 39
    Bill Says:

    Thanks for the inspiration and Happy New Year to you and your family! Thanks for offering to share your plans/retreat guide…I’ll take you up on it!

  40. 40
    Joe M Says:

    Thanks for the New Year’s pep talk. With a growing family (3 kids under the age of 6), I’d like to make sure that we all establish family values and a plan for growing close and staying close. I’d love to see your plans and your retreat guide, to use in creating our own plan.

  41. 41
    Conor McGuire Says:

    Great article. I would like to see your plan.

  42. 42
    john Echols Says:

    I wish I had thought to put things in this format. very useful empowering for the people you love the most. Kids will kept us honest and on tract…. many times I find I have taught them things I did not want to pass on. This can help correct that to some degree

  43. 43
    Les S Says:

    Excellent article as usual. Change is in the air. I would appreciate a copy of your family plan. Thank you.

  44. 44
    Tammy M Says:

    As always, insightful and thoughtful. Please send, Thanks!

  45. 45
    Philadelphia Phan Says:

    As always, a succinctly stated argument for the value of a family and personal plan! I look forward to using the tool.

  46. 46
    Kevin Says:

    Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your ideas and your plan!

  47. 47
    Jeanine "Nini" Martin Says:

    Hi Ed, Happy Holidays! Thank You for sharing yet another inspiring and spiritually moving piece. Yes, I too, have lived by my “cause”/Mission in life, namely; Give without expectation of receipt in this lifetime…pass it forward. 🙂 I would love to see your 1-page strategic plan. We wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Cheers & Blessings, Nini & The Jackson Family

  48. 48
    Ed Says:

    Great post as usual. I’d love to see a copy of your plans and retreat guide.

  49. 49
    Brett Says:

    You rock Ed — I am optimistic we will cross paths in person some day.

  50. 50
    Smalltown CIO Says:

    Excellent insight as always Ed and yes, I would love to see your plan.

  51. 51
    Miranda Says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’d love a copy.

  52. 52
    JC Says:

    Love, love, love your contriutions- always on time and relevant. Please share your plan.

  53. 53
    David V Says:

    As a new father, I am in definite need of plan for every aspect of my life. I would value any information you would be willing to share.

    Thank you and God bless!

  54. 54
    Bill Rieger Says:

    Excellent article Ed and very appropriate as we begin a new year. What you talk about here and the examples you share testify to the equation I have adopted: small smart choices + consistancy + time = radical change. Thank you for sharing your experience strength and hope with the rest of us. These are the building blocks for achieving great things that we were all destined for! Happy New Year!

  55. 55
    Rob Price Says:

    You are an inspiring writer and I always enjoy your posts. I am interested in receiving your plan. Thank you and Happy New Year.

  56. 56
    Angela Says:

    I would love one also!

  57. 57
    Atao Says:

    A great way to start the new year. Thanks for sharing.

  58. 58
    WP Says:

    Would greatly appreciate a copy of your plan. Thank you for the inspiration and for your devotion to helping others through life!

  59. 59
    Janet J Says:

    Liked your thought processes when I worked in Arlington. Please send me a guide and thanks for insightful blog.

  60. 60
    CD Says:

    Very timely given discussion of late, would love a copy of your plan. thank you

  61. 61
    Sharon Says:

    Hi Ed:
    Thank you for sharing this thought provoking approach. Please send me your guide.

  62. 62
    Maqbool Says:

    Great post, love to see the plan. thanks.

  63. 63
    DeniseB Says:

    Can’t thank you enough for all of your inspiration and contribution. You never disappoint. I’d love a copy.

  64. 64
    Dave Says:

    Inspiring as always, thanks Ed. Would love a copy as well.

  65. 65
    ACO Says:

    Would also love a copy, thanks for the inspiration.

  66. 66
    DiFrey Says:

    Am wondering how to get my kids to think beyond the next video game. Would love to get a copy of your plan.

  67. 67
    DT Says:

    Outstanding Ed! Please send me a copy.

  68. 68
    Angela Says:

    I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts. This one is timely too! Would love to have a copy of your plan.

  69. 69
    Julia Says:

    Intriguing concept: would appreciate your sharing the one page plan & guide. Thank you.

  70. 70
    Greg Says:

    Thanks for the insights to start the new year. I would very much like a copy.

  71. 71
    Shawn Says:

    Thank you for all your contributions, this will be great as we begin a new year. I would love a copy of the plan.

  72. 72
    Lisa Says:

    Thank you Ed. Please send a copy.

  73. 73
    Rebecca Says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I would love a copy of your plan.

  74. 74
    dvb Says:

    thanks for sharing. I’ve used a 1- 3 – 5 year planning sheet with my family and would love to see your statement. Thanks!

  75. 75
    GTF Says:

    My wife and I have always had weekly “meetings” to plan our weeks, months, year, etc. and the kids always want to be a part of it. They are now old enough where we have discussed including them, but I like your retreat approach for the family. I’d love to incorporate that and involve our whole family.

    Please share at your convenience.


  76. 76
    Dave Says:

    Ed – great post. Please do share your plan – thanks.

  77. 77
    ReluctantCTO Says:

    This makes intuitive sense to me. I have made the mistake many times of assuming the family could read my mind. Each of the individuals in the family seems to have a pretty strong personal vision, but I am not sure we have ever shared them effectively, nor have we created a shared vision. Would love to see how you did this!

  78. 78
    Non-sequitur Says:

    I would love a copy of your plan. It’s about time to formalize these ideas into a plan.

  79. 79
    Colleen Says:

    I regretted not asking you for a copy of your plan in your previous post on the topic, so don’t want to miss the opportunity again. Please send a copy of it. Thanks very much.

  80. 80
    Dan Says:

    Another great post, I would love a copy

  81. 81
    Joanna Says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I’d love to get a copy of your plan.

  82. 82
    SVo Says:

    Thank you for the New Year inspiration. Please send a copy of your plan.

  83. 83
    chris Says:

    Great topic. Please send me a copy of your plans

  84. 84
    C.D. Says:

    Thank you for this! I would love a copy of your plan.

  85. 85
    SML Says:

    I’d love a copy of your plan and retreat guide. Thank you! And happy new year!

  86. 86
    Holli Says:

    Thank you Ed, I always look forward to reading your posts! Please share a copy of your plan.

  87. 87
    Rick Says:

    You always inspire. Please forward a copy of your plan.

  88. 88
    DVD Says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I would appreciate a copy of the plan.

  89. 89
    mb Says:

    Thank you, I’d love a copy of the plan.

  90. 90
    Russell Says:

    Very timely for my family. Please include me.

  91. 91
    Josh Says:

    I would greatly appreciate a copy of your one-page strategic plans. Thank you for sharing!

  92. 92
    wj Says:

    Thank you Ed, please share your planning tools.

  93. 93
    Cathy Crowley Says:

    Hi ED. Thanks for a very insightful article. i would love to see your planning tools.

  94. 94
    Impressed Says:

    Great, though-provoking post – as always! Please share your plan and retreat guide with me at your convenience.

  95. 95
    Dr. Dog Says:

    Great column, Ed. I’ve instituted something similar with my own family. I also have my children fill out quarterly happiness surveys, and when my oldest left for college we had an exit interview with him. I’m proud to say that we have experienced 0% turnover during the past five years.

  96. 96
    Heather Says:

    Hi Ed – thank you for this great article. I am definitely interested in the examples you are willing to share. I am newly-wed and my husband and I want to ensure we are intentional in our family life. I think that this may be a divine intervention to have a tool to help us do that in a purposeful way. Thank you.

  97. 97
    Leslee Says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed your article, Ed, and would love to have a copy of your plan and retreaat guide!

  98. 98
    DavidGee Says:

    Thanks for sharing your family plan, Ed. I’m wondering what the family thought when you first proposed a retreat? My kids will think I’m nuts, but we’ll give it a go. Thanks for the plans.

  99. 99
    James Says:

    Ed; I enjoyed your article and am interested in implementing something similar. Please share a copy of your planning material.

  100. 100
    Lori Thesing Says:

    Ed, I love this and would love a copy. I use to be more diligent about career & personal planning, but got away from it ,in part ,due to having children. Thank you for the incentive.
    Lori Thesing

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