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One simple secret to success in 2017

One simple secret to success in 2017

Today you will learn what successful people like Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss do instead of making New Year’s resolutions to kickstart their new year.

A lot of people have already failed their New Year’s resolutions by now, and there are many reasons why. Do you know what the best predictor of future behavior in sales marketing is? I’ll give you a hint: It’s not your desires, hobbies, or needs. It’s your past behavior. The interesting part is that this applies to many more areas in life than your consumer habits. For someone that promotes change (like me) that can be a bit demotivating. But does that mean we’re all doomed for rest of our lives like in Groundhog Day? I don’t think so. It simply means that real and lasting change may not occur over night.

I like to look at people that already accomplished what I want to do. Tim Ferriss and Anthony Robbins share one common practice at the end of each year. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, they review their past year. I kind of like the idea of doing the opposite of the mainstream (I’m a rebel, I know), and thought why not give it a try? So, I took a step back and reviewed my 2016. Here’s what happened:

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Enter the fitness world

I started to work part-time as a trainer at a gym called West Side Fitness. After getting my certification as a strength coach back in 2012, I put the project aside. Fear of failure was probably one of the reasons. I was training friends tough during that period. After 3 years I felt the urge to set my foot in the fitness industry. I applied, got hired, and started to train clients. A life changing decision. More on that later.

Moving in with my girlfriend

My parents moved to Italy due to retirement (we were living together in Zurich, Switzerland), and my girlfriend and I moved together. Another life changing decision, and we’re still together (*victory*). I was a very selfish person when Sara and I met more than 3 years ago. Focusing entirely on me was kind of a normal state back then, and unfortunately, the feeling of emptiness, too. Sara taught me many lessons, such as the pleasure of sharing, giving, and basically not being the center of the world (all the time). I’ve learned and matured a lot since then, something I can’t thank her enough for. The good became better and the bad became… well, better too. I’ve still got a lot of work in front of me; but hey, I’m on my way.

My boss fired me

I was working part-time as a secretary at an accounting office (while going to university and working at the gym). I absolutely hated the job. Why did I stay there for 3 years? Because I could print all of my university stuff there (more than 200 pages per month) and ask them about matters regarding admin and taxes. Weak reasons, I know. While being there, I did what I needed to do. Not more, not less. They fired me because of the lack of motivation. My boss did me a HUGE favor. I sleep better now, and have more energy for stuff that matters, such as:

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Graduating in psychology

After 3 years of studying, I got my bachelor’s degree last summer. It was a wonderful time, during which I met amazing people and learned things not only related to my work today, but also for life. The decision not to follow with a master’s degree was a tough one, but also an important one, because it let me to the following:

Being broke and creating Muscle & Mind

Managing money was never one of my fortes. Being fired at the accounting office and not having much time outside finishing my studies and working as a trainer led me to a “financially restrictive phase.” I was broke; some students can probably relate to that. Honestly, I created Muscle & Mind out of anger, frustration, and the wish to conquer the world. At the beginning I had no clue about marketing, sales funnels, and product for prospects. I only knew that I needed a change in my life.

An amazing journey began, and with it an emotional rollercoaster. After a lot of research and procrastination, I got a running website, social media presence, and most importantly, I started to write. Becoming independent was without a doubt the most difficult decision I’ve made for years. I was scared (and still am sometimes), and doubted whether I could pull it off or not. But here I am today. Coaching clients and writing an article for one of the biggest lifestyle and productivity blogs in the world. Something I could never have imagined 7 or 8 months ago.

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“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” -Steve Jobs

Am I running a million-dollar business? Is my inbox flooded with coaching requests? No, but who knows what is going to happen in the next 7, 12, or 24 months?

Torn pectoral muscle

I torn my pec last November, and it sucks. Any kind of pressing movements are out of sight for a while. But life goes on. I’m seeing a specialist soon, and will go through rehab. Meanwhile, I’ve got more time for Sara, Muscle & Mind, squats, and deadlifts.

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Meeting one of the strongest guys in Switzerland

Daniele Pauli is strong – REALLY strong. He competes in powerlifting. His current total: 760kg (1672 pounds), 270kg (594 pounds) squats, 180kg (396 pounds) bench press, and 310kg (682) deadlift. (Sorry Daniele, if the numbers are outdated). I met him at West Side Fitness, where he occasionally trains and coaches clients. He’s the best personal trainer I know, and simply an amazing human being. He taught me so many things inside, and especially outside, the gym. Thank you, Daniele.

All in all, 2016 has been a hell of a ride for me. Big changes, and most of them were good. Some things stayed the same. I still got a lot of work in front of me, but that doesn’t worry me; actually, I’m really looking forward to it.

Reviewing your last year can be a powerful practice if you want to make 2017 a huge success. Your past doesn’t have to determine your future. And understanding where you’re coming from can be a big help in deciding where you want to go. 2017 is still fresh, but sooner than you might think you will be reviewing this year. So, take a step back, look at what happened, find out what worked and what hasn’t, change strategies where needed, and last but not least, to end with Dan Pena’s words: Just F***ing do it!

Featured photo credit: Getty Images via huffingtonpost.com

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Roberto Corbacio

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Published on July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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