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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 May 22, 2019

              50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry

              50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry

              LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network with great people to help you in your career and businesses. However, with over 575 million people on the site, who should you follow? This list will steer you to the right people to follow, organized by categories of expertise.

              Job Search Experts

              You will likely have several jobs throughout the course of your career, and you will constantly need advice on new trends and strategies out there in the job market. Here are the LinkedIn experts who you should follow on these matters.

              1. Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Her articles on job searching are filled with creative and colorful cartoons.

              2. Lou Adler is the author of The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired.

              3. Dr. Marla Gottschalk will help you make an impact in a new job.

              4. Hannah Morgan runs CareerSherpa.net, where she gives expert advice on job searching and how to be more visible online.

              5. Alison Doyle is the CEO and Founder of CareerToolBelt.com.

              Management Experts

              They say that people leave managers, not jobs. These experts in LinkedIn will help you become your employees’ dream manager.

              6. Jeff Weiner. How can we leave out the CEO of LinkedIn himself?

              7. Nozomi Morgan is an executive coach. She can help you transition from a boss to a true leader.

              8. Mickey Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He constantly shares his expertise in managing a global player in e-commerce platforms.

              9. Andreas von der Heydt was the head of Amazon’s Kindle Content and now the Director of Talent Acquisition. He has extensive experience in management, branding, and marketing.

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              Productivity Experts

              By maximizing your productivity, you can win in all aspects of life. The following LinkedIn experts will help you win big in your career.

              10. Gretchen Rubin is a happiness coach and the bestselling author of the The Happiness Project.

              11. Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply. She advises us to include play in our schedules.

              12. Greg Mckeown is an essentialist. Part of being an essentialist is saying no to many things so that we can focus on the things that matter.

              13. Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. provides strategies on how to be productive and happy at work at the same time.

              Marketing Experts

              14. Sujan Patel is VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software. He is an expert in content marketing and he even shares his ideas on content marketing in 2020.

              15. Megan Berry is the Head of Product Development at Rebelmouse, a content marketing and AlwaysOn powerhouse.

              16. Sean Gardner will help you navigate the social media landscape. This includes how to use different platforms to help accelerate your career. He is also the bestselling author of The Road to Social Media Success.

              17. Christel Quek is an digital and marketing expert. She is the VP of South East Asia at Brandwatch. Their products help businesses utilize social media data to make better business decisions.

              18. Jeff Bullas is a digital marketing expert. His blog has over 4 million readers annually.

              19. Michael Stelzer is the CEO and Founder of social media powerhouse site, Social Media Examiner.

              20. If you’re looking for inbound and content marketing expertise, follow Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of Hubspot.

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              21. David Edelman is a McKinsey partner and is at the helm of the Digital Marketing Strategy Practice Department.

              22. Dave Kerpen leads the social media software company Likeable Local. He is the author of Likeable Social Media: How to delight your customers.

              23. Clara Shih is the CEO of Hearsay Social and the author of The Facebook Era.

              24. Aaron Lee is Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner. He is an excellent resource for everything social media.

              25. David Sable is the CEO of Y&R, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.

              26. Content marketing trumps traditional marketing these days, and who else better to lead you in this area than Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute.

              Personal Branding Experts

              Part of what we market in our personal career is our brand. When people hear your name, what kind of brand comes into their mind? What traits and qualities do they associate with you?

              Here are some personal branding experts from LinkedIn to improve your own brand.

              27. Dorie Clark is the author of Stand Out and Reinventing You. He can help you craft the professional image you’ve always wanted.

              28. Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you’re a millennial, Dan is the guy to help you craft your personal brand.

              Other Notable Experts to Follow

              29. Lisa Gates is the expert to follow if you’re negotiating for higher salaries and promotions.

              30. If you’re a Baby Boomer, Marc Miller will help you navigate the continually changing landscape of the workplace.

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              31. To avoid getting your resumé moved to the “No” pile, read Paul Freiberger’s excellent advice.

              32. James Caan provides insightful ideas on careers in general. He is also a serial entrepreneur.

              33. Jeff Haden writes on various topics, such as leadership and management. He is the owner of Blackbird Media.

              34. If you’re looking for expert business advice on getting new customers and keeping them, follow Jay Baer.

              35. Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, is a great human resources specialist.

              36. If you need help in using Twitter to boost your career, Claire Diaz-Ortiz can guide you in the right direction.

              37. Ryan Holmes is the CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

              38. Customers are the lifeblood of a business and Colin Shaw focuses on revolutionizing this customer experience.

              39. Brian Solis often reflects on the future of business and how technology can disrupt our world.

              40. Nancy Lublin provides advice on more lighthearted topics, which are perfect after a long day’s work. She is the CEO behind Dosomething.org, a portal designed for social change; and the founder & CEO of Loris.ai and Crisis Text Line.

              41. Katya Andresen provides advice on how to manage your career. She was the CEO of Cricket Media and now responsible for the SVP Card Customer Experience at Capital One.

              42. Gallup has created a system to test what your strengths are and how to use them at work. Jim Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

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              43. Adam Grant is a Wharton Professor and the author of Give and Take, which provides advice on why being helpful at work can accelerate your career.

              44. Hunter Walk is a partner at Homebrew Venture Capitalist Company and has specialty in product development and management.

              45. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, follow Beth Kanter for expert advice on this area.

              46. Emotional Intelligence is necessary to succeed in your career, and Daniel Goleman is your expert for that.

              47. Rita J. King connects science, technology and business.

              48. Tori Worthington Rose is a Creative Director at Mary Beth West Communications, LLC. She has extensive experience in sales and digital media.

              49. If you’re looking for some advice on how to use writing and personal content marketing to boost your career, follow Ann Handley.

              50. Tim Brown is the CEO at IDEO and shares his insights on Leadership and Creativity.

              These are just some of the key thought leaders and movers in various industries. They will provide you with constant inspiration, as well as the willpower to pursue the career that you’ve always wanted. Their stream of expert ideas in their respective fields will help you become well-equipped in your professional pursuits.

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              Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

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