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

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

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 October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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