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Design A Future You Love: 11 Ways That Brilliant Leaders Think Of The Future Differently

Design A Future You Love: 11 Ways That Brilliant Leaders Think Of The Future Differently
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Do you feel like your spend your days reacting to everything that happens to you, and you wish that you could stop the merry-go-round and have things go the way you want them?

In my coaching practice, I have found that the brilliant leaders among us have figured out how to do this. They have a vision of what they want their future to look like, and a mindset that allows them to get it. Here are 11 ways that great leaders view the future that allows them to shape it:

1. They know it is foolish to label anything as “good” or “bad.”

When something doesn’t go the way you want it to, it’s tempting to call it a “failure” and lick your wounds. But the thing is, oftentimes something that you initially thought was unfortunate ends up being one of the best things that ever happened to you. Losing your job opened the way for you to start your million-dollar business, or being rejected from the high school football team gave you the time to find your true passion of music. Brilliant leaders don’t beat themselves up over short-term “failures,” but instead keep an amused eye on how it plays out in the long term.

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2. They understand that a great future is only possible with a LOT of mistakes in the present.

It’s tempting to beat yourself up when you make a mistake and lose an important account, or miss a key opportunity. But brilliant leaders know that you can only BE a brilliant leader through a lot of learning and growing — and that making mistakes is by far the best way to do this. Not many leaders were born brilliant, but all were forged to be brilliant by being hit many, many times with the anvil of failure.

3. They know that little things can make a big difference.

A professor of mine used to leave a piece of trash on the ground whenever he would interview candidates, and look to see which of them would pick it up and throw it away. He would give that person the job. The moral of the story: You never know how a little thing like picking up a piece of trash will lead to something much bigger, like you getting the job. So be sure that you live each day in a way that makes you proud.

4. They live in the present as if the future is already here.

Have you ever noticed that if you believe something will happen, it is more likely to? This is because you notice opportunities, and send signals (that other people then react to) that you wouldn’t if you didn’t believe in that future for yourself. For example, if you believed that you would be president one day, then you would act like someone presidential. You would volunteer to give talks, people would notice that you are someone with an air of confidence and vision, and then this would open doors to get you closer and closer to the White House. Brilliant leaders know that if you act like your future self, that self is more likely to happen.

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5. They understand that the unthinkable will happen.

The thing that goes wrong is almost always the one thing you never thought would go wrong. This is why worrying is so pointless. Brilliant leaders know that worrying is a waste of energy, and so instead stay alert for whatever might come their way.

6. They know that the best way to prepare for the unthinkable is to keep themselves in great shape.

Your response to the unthinkable is mostly governed by gut reaction, because you simply can’t rehearse in advance. So you need to make sure that you are in peak form at all times. This is a tall order, I know, but there are some simple rules you can follow to keep yourself in great shape: sleep enough, exercise often, eat healthily, do one thing that challenges you daily, and do one act of kindness daily. If you keep yourself tuned up in this way, you will be able to put your best foot forward when the unthinkable happens.

7. They know that there are many paths to get to the same place.

It can be tempting to think that the ONE path in front of you is the only way to get what you want. But a brilliant leader knows that life is long, and that the only limit on number of paths from A to B is your ability to think of them. In fact, by bemoaning “the one that got away,” you actually prevent yourself from thinking of all of the other paths. So if one fails, start searching for the next right way!

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8. They understand that some things won’t change.

How much energy do you spend wishing that your partner, officemate, or neighbor will change? And then getting really upset when they don’t? A brilliant leader knows that it is futile to try to change people, and so devises strategies to work with them. Sure, you can help them grow, but your relationship with them shouldn’t depend on them growing.

9. They know that everything changes.

As the old saying goes, the only thing that never changes is change. As humans, we are not programmed to like change, but this hinders our ability to grow and evolve. A brilliant leader is comfortable with themselves and not attached to how things are. They see change not as threatening, but as full of potential.

10. They know what is in their control… and what is not.

At the end of the day, all you have control over is yourself. How you behave, how much you love, how smartly you work, how much you honor your core values, how much you inspire others. A brilliant leader knows that their main job is to be the best leader they can be, and that that is quite a lot.

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11. They value people.

Brilliant leaders know that no amount of hard work on their own will get them where they want to go. They need relationships with people who believe in them and their cause, and those relationships are actually the most important thing.

Which one of this list will you bring into your life this week? Write a note and share!

— Samantha

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Featured photo credit: Blue Eye/ Rob Unreall via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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