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How Strategic Thinking Can Boost Your Performance at Work

How Strategic Thinking Can Boost Your Performance at Work

Strategic thinking is the future of discovering the breakout performance you want for yourself on an individual level and what will be required for businesses–small and large–to compete in the future. Strategic thinking is a cognitive process; you cannot allow your life to be driven merely by subconscious thoughts. To perform at your highest and best requires taking the appropriate amount of time to imagine, dream, design and think about your future.

“Performance: the manner in which or the efficiency
with which something reacts or fulfills its intended purpose.”
Source: Dictionary.com

1. Ask questions.

1. Where are we today?
2. Where do we want to be in the future?
3. What obstacles stand in our way?

The result: These three powerful questions will boost your performance at work simply by igniting your imagination.

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    2. Imagine your future.

    Motivation and performance are closely tied together. We crave new challenges and new opportunities. Goals are powerful. Choose to step out of the daily noise, distraction and chaos of your daily work. Schedule time to envision your future.  Paint a vidid image of who you are in five years. What new projects will exist?  When you stop to think, what do you see? How clearly can you see the image of your future self?

    The result: Strategically thinking about where you want to be in the future becomes the internal or self-activating motivation that boosts excitement, enthusiasm and performance.

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      3. Be happy. You choose what you think about.

      When you think about your work, are you happy? Are you finding meaning and value in the work you do? Life is too short to focus your time and attention on negative thoughts. Ernest Nightengale said, “You become what you think about most of the time.” Regardless of the current project you are working on, you can choose to be happy. You are the only person who has the ability to choose what you will think about and whether you will choose to be happy.

      The result: Happy people are much more productive. The are more engaged in the work they do and they accomplish more than an employee who hates his job.

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        4. Be bold. Step away from the logical into the creative and new.

        Strategic thinking and performance thrive on creativity.

        • Be new.
        • Be different.
        • Be very very different.
        • See in pictures
        • Envision
        • Imagine
        • Listen
        • Watch
        • Hear
        • Embrace emotions
        • Think ahead
        • Tell it in a story
        • Intuitive
        • See the big picture
        • Ask, what if…
        • What could you change if you chose to be outrageous

        The result: The last 100 years of innovative productivity has come from improvements in planning, budgeting, automation and the beginning of technology. Many of these concepts can be outsourced, the future of boosting performance will come from inside the heart and souls of individuals. Break throughs can be brought to life through corporate backing, but revolutionary increases in performance will come from break through ideas from individuals who have been given the freedom to think outside the box.

        4. Be inspired. Innovate.

        There is nothing more powerful than excitement about a new concept. Creating something that did not exist until your team thought of the concept. Inspiration is one of the core elements of strategic thinking. Be inspired. Innovate.

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        The result: Being on the ground floor of turning an idea into a finished work is incredibly rewarding. Meaningful and fulfilling work will boost performance, work ethic and self-esteem.

        5. Step away from the project.

        Projects often come to a stand still when unexpected obstacles appear. One of my friends is a judge in Arkansas. When he was practicing law in my hometown I would regularly see him meandering aimlessly down the street. His gaze was always the same–distant and intense. He has always worn his suits at least one size too large so it was easy to spot him. One day we passed on the street and I asked him why he was outside so much, rather than at the desk in his office. He replied, “This sidewalk is my desk. I am paid to think.”

        The result: Sitting at a desk in the midst of clutter and old ideas can stifle your ability to strategically think up new solutions to the obstacles you were facing.

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          6. Prime your brain to think strategically.

          The human brain is bombarded with millions of bits of data every second. You receive data through your five senses–what you see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Isn’t it amazing that your brain acts as a gigantic filter–receiving so much information it cannot possibly focus on every single input? For example, do you remember the color of the last car you passed on the way to work? Do you even feel the shoes on your feet until I remind you of those shoes? If you just bought a new white Honda four-door sedan, you will begin to see white Honda four-door sedans. Why? Because the excitement and emotion tied to the novelty of your new car has subconsciously primed your brain and you begin to see white Hondas everywhere. 

          The result: White Hondas were always there, you just didn’t pay attention to them because they were unimportant to you. When you prime your brain with exciting goals that are deeply tied to your personal emotions, your subconscious will be primed to seek out answers and solutions that have always been right in front of you. You just hadn’t seen them before.

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            7. Be outrageous with the number of ideas you can write on a whiteboard.

            Imagine the shear number of ridiculous ideas that percolate through the minds of advertising agencies and marketing departments all across the world. How many all night thinking sessions have the creatives and executives of various corporations spent collecting as many ideas as the human brain can generate? Get rid of all the filters. Assume the world is level and all opinions carry the same value.

            The result: Taglines and slogans so closely link with our lives that some of these have not been used in twenty years:

            • Got Milk?
            • Where’s the Beef?
            • Absolutely Positively Overnight
            • Just Do It

            8. Accept risk. Encourage failure.

            If you choose to remain the same, your performance will remain the same. In order to boost your performance at work you must be willing to try new things. Break old models. Accept risk. Encourage failure. Innovation comes with a price. Perseverance, effort, the willpower to try not just one more time but thousands of times if it is needed.

            The result: Businesses who want to grow must embrace the concept of strategic thinking and to embrace calculated risk, anticipate failure and encourage constant challenges to the status quo.

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              Steve Jobs – A Strategic Thinker

              10. Study and learn from strategic thinkers who changed the world.

              Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, Leonardo Davinci, and Steve Jobs. What did these people have in common?

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              • They had dreams without roadmaps.
              • They had answers without questiions.
              • They had powerful instincts and they were willing to follow their guts.
              • They had perseverance and endurance.
              • They chose a life of continual learning and growth
              • and, Each one of them had a personal willingness to fail.

              What made these men and women so different?

              They didn’t just look foward. They looked inside themselves.

              They believed.

              Featured photo credit: Head Silhouette View Direction Color Diamonds / geralt via pixabay.com

              More by this author

              Allyson Lewis

              Allyson is a nationally acclaimed author, motivator, speaker, time management, productivity strategist, and executive coach.

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              Last Updated on November 5, 2019

              How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

              How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

              Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in our craft, we cannot excel in our chosen careers or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation.

              But content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

              The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

              Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

              But it all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

              As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts.

              Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However. I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

              There are several types of learning styles known to mankind. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

              The four most popular types of learning styles are:

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              • Visual learning style (what this article talks about).
              • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information presented).
              • Verbal or linguistic learning style (learning that involves speech and writing).
              • Tactile learning style (learning by touching and doing)

              But for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning to boost your career or business.

              How to Know If You’re a Visual Learner?

              When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

              I’m talking about preferring to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. I’m talking about discovering that you actually have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

              Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

              However, visual learning in particular CAN 10x your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not. And here’s why:

              Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[1]

              While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e learning about the human DNA).

              Visual learning does use a different part of the brain and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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              By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

              How to Use Visual Learning for Success

              Here’re 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

              1. Bring back the to-do list. Then add shapes and colors to boost productivity.

              We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. But written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

              While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and boosts aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

              I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

              2. Add graphs, charts and symbols to your reports.

              Yes, it seems like more work cut out for you. However, graphs enable you monitor the heartbeat of your business.

              Graphs and charts help you trend your finances, budget, and pretty much any data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and in a matter of seconds, have relevant information displayed in different shapes and images.

              As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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              And when broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

              3. Effectively brainstorm with mind-mapping.

              Mind-mapping is not new but I don’t think it’s been talked about as often as we do to-do lists.

              With mind mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole.

              Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

              It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

              Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

              Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

              4. Add video streaming to meetings.

              What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation at the same time?

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              When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories into images in our minds.

              For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance during if people can see their colleagues in addition to flash animation or whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

              Is Visual Learning Better Than Other Learning Styles?

              No, that is not the point. The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

              You might discover that understanding scientific concepts are much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

              The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

              More About Learning Styles

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

              Reference

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