The Golden Ladder From Dream To Reality

The Golden Ladder From Dream To Reality

In this article, Peter Cameron-Burnett looks at the 5 things you need to have in place to successfully achieve any goal – the 5 things that will help you avoid being either a dreamer or a busy fool! 

Let’s give you a golden ladder to reach your goals …

I’m glad you’re reading this, because this is one of the biggest gifts I could give to you if we were working side by side.

Now, I love working with folks to make their dreams and aspirations happen.

Whether it’s helping someone define and launch a start-up, or helping my 8-year old daughter with her fledgling charity for Unicorns that have lost their horns.

(I was under the impression that a unicorn without a horn was called a horse, but apparently I’m completely wrong there!)

But regardless of who I’m working with, I can give them a fast answer to the question they always ask – “Do you think this is going to work?

And that answer isn’t based on what they are trying to do.

You see, we live in a world where we have restaurants and artificial testicular implants for dogs, companies that produce edible shoes, potato postcards, freestyle cuddling trainers, virtual dating assistants (who do all that onerous stuff for you like talking to them first), and companies that send people you don’t like dead flowers on your behalf.

So we don’t start with WHAT people are trying to achieve.

The first thing I look at is how much of their Golden Ladder is in place. 

The Golden Ladder is what stretches from your overall vision down to the actions you are taking.

There are 5 rungs on this ladder, and just like any other ladder, if any of the rungs are missing, it’s a bad sign!

The 5 things you need to have in place to succeed

They are, in descending order:

  • Vision: a clear understanding of what you want to do, and why it’s important. 
  • Mission: this is where we take your vision and turn it into a direction. 
  • Objective: this is where we say how far and how fast we are going in that direction.
  • Project: This is something we’re going to do to achieve that objective. 
  • Action: This is what we’re actually going to do to make that project (and all the rest of it) happen for us. 

(When we came up with this, we were going to use the acronym VMOPA – but that sounded like an over-hyped cleaning product, so we went with Golden Ladder.)

Let me give you an example of what the Golden Ladder looks like for, say, Apple.

  • Vision: our vision is a world where technology is beautifully intuitive and helps people achieve more   
  • Mission: we are going to change the way people listen to music by creating the iPod. 
  • Objective: we want 30% penetration of the portable music player market by 2008.
  • Project: we will create a fast and simple user interface for the device  
  • Action: user interface team meeting on Monday at 9am. 

When we do it that way, then we actually get the result you want …

By starting with the vision, we connect with the reason WHY we’re doing all this.

Best lesson I got when I was younger:

If you want to know if someone is going to do something, don’t ask them how, ask them WHY. If they have a good why, they will find the how. If they don’t have a good why, the how is irrelevant. 

So the vision gives us an anchor for what we do.

It gives our team something to belong to, and it gives our customers a reason to love us.

You want your customer to know that you’re not just another money machine. You stand for something.

The mission, (and we might have several), then defines the directions we are going in.

Here at AgileOS, for instance, we have 2 missions, which derive from our vision, which is a place where people have the tools to create a better tomorrow whilst successfully managing today.

Our main mission (the AgileOS bit) is to provide people with systems and blueprints that help them achieve more, by getting their thinking out of their head, chunking their goals down into defined and achievable bits, and then using tried and tested methods to make those bits happen.

And we also have our contribution mission (called DeliverAid) where we supply orphans and children in care in poor countries with computers and education materials to help them create a better future.

That helps US know who we are and what we are doing. So, we’re not just a random group of oddballs running around the planet throwing Trello at people. 😉

The objective helps us set a goal. We need to have numbers to move towards.

(And if you can’t put any numbers on it, then you might need to do some more research into what you are trying to do.)

The projects and actions are the things we then chunk down into actually making this happen (and we make sure they are prioritised – we’ll look at that in a future article.)

What happens when you miss a rung?

The best way to explain why the Golden Ladder works is to look at what happens when it’s not all there.

There are 3 types of approach (and in fairness, we’ve all been one of these at one point or another in our lives.)

  • The Dreamer: They have big visions, but their vision never filters down into actions. “All talk and no trousers” as my grandma used to say. (A disturbing image which has remained with me to this day.)
  • The “Busy Fool”: This is said with pity, not derision. It’s the person putting in a lot of energy but they are achieving little. Like a powerboat with a massive engine and a tiny rudder, they are all over the place in an explosion of “spray and pray”.
  • The Achiever: They are lined up nicely. People like working with them, because their idea reaches all the way from the cloud to the ground. They have a “why”, and they also have a “what next?”. If you are a competitor, fear these people.

What you should do next

  • Have a look at what you are trying to achieve: using the Golden Ladder as a checklist. Are you fully aligned across all of those steps?
  • Get a system to manage this: blatant plug for AgileOS coming up – but it’s free, and it’s perfectly designed for doing exactly this job quickly and easily.  But even if you don’t use us, make sure you use something, rather than try and contain this all in your head!
  • Communicate this with people you are working with: this is something that brings people together, increases morale, and energises everyone. What’s not to love?

Get AgileOS, and create your own Golden Ladder in minutes …

AgileOS is a free system designed to help you manage your personal and professional life, business and teams, removing stress and boosting energy and creativity by helping you get a lot of mental processes out of your head onto a system you can trust. You can sign up for free at

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4 Responses

  1. Derek says:

    I definitely fall into the category of ‘Busy Fool’. What’s worse is that all my action isn’t really action at all. It’s research to do the actions: reading business books, listening to podcasts, etc. I really enjoy learning new things, but on an academic level. I’ve taken action before but give up easily, whereas I can research a topic continually. I can easily see that I lack vision.
    After thinking about this throughout the day, I’ve come up empty. I don’t feel a strong purpose that I can latch on to. I know that I’ll have to create my own purpose, so that’s my focus this week. It’s not something I’ve given much thought to before.

    • I’ve fallen into the research trap before as well! 😉 It’s sometimes a sign that you want to do something, but there is an internal blocker (often based on personal belief or apprehension about the work involved) and the research almost becomes the work that you decide to do whilst waiting for the gate to open and let you in, if that makes sense? If you don’t have a purpose, what do you enjoy the most? Who do you envy for the lifestyle or accomplishments they have?

  2. Derek says:

    You’re correct about it being an internal blocker. I want to run my own business but never feel ready to make the jump. I research everything from business ideas to sales tactics. It’s a lack of confidence to take the action. It’s been a few years of nothing but research and I’m feeling more confident about starting a business. I was happy when AgileOS was pointed out to me, so I can have a system to tackle the large project of ‘start a business’. My only purpose so far is to build enough money to retire and enjoy my free time with my wife.

  3. Karen Collacutt says:

    I have tried a lot of different systems over the years. I really like Trello but couldn’t get it to work well for me. Too many boards, to complicated. A friend introduced me to AgileOS and I looked at it a few weeks ago. It’s been poking me since then to take action.

    Yesterday I spent the 45 min to watch the detailed training on how to use it and dove in. In a very short time I set up my basic elements, transferred a few lists over from other boards and started to apply it. I can see how this is going to so much better for me! All of the stuff I love about Trello with a clean, manageable interface, a great structure in AgileOS and simple to use instructions. When I had things to add to my lists last night I knew exactly where to put them.

    So far, so good! I’ll check back in when I have more data. Thanks!

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