02/29/2012 09:46 am ET Updated Apr 30, 2012

What to Pack for Raising Your Game

I was working with a client last week that is two months into an organizational effort to "raise their game." The leadership team is working on setting a clear vision for the five-year plan; holding people accountable to higher performance and new roles; and focusing its effort on a limited number of high priority projects. The organization is clearly on a journey and so I thought it best to remind them of what to pack to make the trip highly successful. Your company may be on a similar journey so here are my travel tips.

Sense of humor
Like a great pair of versatile travel pants, you will use your sense of humor in many different situations. A sense of humor is indispensable in adding a degree of levity to those inevitable crucial conversations. It also helps us keep things in perspective since very few businesses deal in life-and-death situations. It helps us avoid dwelling on the negative and opens our minds to possibilities. Don't leave home without it.

A clear and compelling picture in your mind of your future
Yes, you need a vision but don't confuse with this a goal. Goals are left-brain, a vision is right-brain. The more compelling your vision is to you, the greater the chance it will pull you through a lot of the b.s. and obstacles headed your way. If your vision is more like a hope or emotional stirring, you will find out the hard way how useless those versions are to you when you come up against the looming brick walls.

Fierce time management
There are people who steal your time. You know who they are. And they think nothing of it. They are thieves. Worse than thieves, they are murderers of your time because once they take your time, you can never get it back. Is that acceptable to you? If so, re-visit your vision because it's sounding more like a wish if you're willing to let others mess with your time. (I hope I'm making you angry.) If you've had enough, the first step in raising your game is to set boundaries and expectations with those who slay your time. Maintain a sharp focus on your vision, prioritize all the demands others place on your time, and learn to say "no" (or at least negotiate) when new demands appear.

Low tolerance for b.s. and high drive to do something about it
When you are highly motivated to raise the game of your organization, you will find you don't have the time to put up with the usual b.s. that some people are very good at generating. When we're happy with the status quo, we usually tolerate more b.s. because we suspect dealing with it with prove troublesome to maintaining the peace. But when you're looking to raise your game, ignoring the b.s. is a luxury you can no longer afford. You hear yourself saying, "I don't have time for this" and find yourself addressing the issue sooner than later. When once you may have ignored it, now you're honest with yourself and admit, "it won't go away until I deal with it."

What else would you add to the packing list?