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5 Mental Skills That The Most Successful Visionaries Master

5 Mental Skills That The Most Successful Visionaries Master

We all crave success. Our own definition of success drives us, causes us to fret, infuriates us at times, and inspires us! We all have people who we look up to as meeting our definition of success. Most people have a grandiose vision for their success definitions. However, translating the vision to action and attainment is where most people lack and fall behind. The grandiose vision remains a vision for a long time, until they feel frustrated and dejected and dissolve the vision or make it more “realistic.”

However, there are people who have much grander visions than most and are able to achieve them. They plough their way through obstacles of all kinds, climb mountains unimaginable to us, and cross seas that we wouldn’t dare consider. What gives these people the strength, courage, and conviction to fulfill their vision and achieve success? The answer is mental skills. These people have mastered the below mental skills that give them everything they need, when they need it.

Here are 7 mental skills that the most successful visionaries are able to master.

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1. Comfort with Ambiguity

Ambiguity and uncertainty causes people to shiver and stay put. As an example, why do you think most of corporate America is stuck in jobs they hate? They would rather stay where they are and suffer and complain than take a leap into an unknown, uncertain, and ambiguous next step.

Successful visionaries, on the other hand, are comfortable with ambiguity. Ambiguity doesn’t scare them. They may or may not seek ambiguity, but when faced with an ambiguous situation, they are able to calmly plough through it. This is an important skill to master in order to be successful. Success is on the edge of our comfort zone. Taking a risk, a leap, and moving into unknown territory often gives us a chance to find our inner strength, one that we are not even aware exists! As long as we stay in our comfort zone, we are never going to be able to tap into our inner strength and other skills we may possess.

How to master this skill? Seek new experiences and, whenever possible, step out of your comfort zone. Speak to new people, try different cuisines, try new activities, volunteer at new places in new roles, read new books. These are just a few ways to start getting comfortable with ambiguity.

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2. The 30,000-Ft View

Successful visionaries are truly able to see things from a vantage point that most are not able to see from — the 30,000-ft view. Be it their life, their career, their relationships, or anything for that matter, they are able to see how things fit into the grand scheme of things, what matters most, and it guides their vision. While most people are floundering around, saying “I don’t know what I want in my life or career or relationships,” these visionaries are able to have a clear view of their life. They have the clarity to see exactly where they are and where they want to be. This gives them a leg up to get to where they want.

How to master this skill? Write down your visions everyday. Assume you are at a 30,000-ft viewpoint and write it. You may feel lost doing so , but attempt it everyday for a couple months. Brian Tracy advocates writing and re-writing your top 10 goals every day. The clarity you will gain over time will help in shaping your vision and give you that vantage view that you are missing now.

3. Resilience

Just like a stretched rubber band that bounces back to its original shape, successful visionaries are resilient. They bounce back from failures and difficulties. They do not let tough situations pull them down. They are able to keep going towards their vision, irrespective of any obstacles. This is a crucial skill to master. Most people give up on their dreams after their first failure or difficulty —as they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

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How to master this skill? Start observing what your attitude towards tough situations is. Do you tend to give up easily? Do you feel scared or frustrated and resort back to the comfortable? Once you identify where you stand on the resilience spectrum, then you can take steps to improve it. Consciously work on becoming more adaptable and flexible in all situations. Positivity and hope, when added to the mix, will boost your resilience factor. Lastly, using every situation as a learning experience and identifying what can be done better next time are key strategies to mastering this skill.

4. Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

Successful visionaries are adept at this. They know and understand all aspects of a problem and are thorough in identifying what has already been worked on. They do not let ego get in the way and are comfortable leveraging a solution, or part of a solution if one already exists.

How to master this skill? Learn to thoroughly understand and analyze all aspects of a problem. Start doing it in daily settings with smaller issues. Then, learn to research and see what solutions exist and if any of those solutions will work in your situation. Practice leads to competence. So, practice this at every opportunity you get.

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5. Master the 7C’s

Live the 7C’s — Confidence, Competence, Courage, Compassion, Creativity, Curiosity, and Commitment. Each C is a mental skill that successful visionaries rely on to be successful.

How to master the 7C’s? Practice each of the 7C’s and set constant reminders until each one becomes a part of you. If you are not naturally curious, force yourself to be curious and ask relevant questions. If you are not confident, fake your confidence and work on other strategies to increase your confidence. If you are not creative, start with simple exercises — doodle and sketch often, engage with children in role-playing games, try the 30 circle exercise (basically, to make an object of each of the circles in a given time).

Which of these skills are you going to master first? I’d love to hear!

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

What Is a Stretch Goal?

A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

1. Get Outside of Your Head

If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

I see this in so many areas of life:

When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

“Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

S.M.A.R.T.

is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

The Bottom Line

These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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