The 12-step plan for unlocking hidden potential
Ask yourself this question:
“What assumption am I making, that I’m not aware I’m making, that gives me what I see?”
And when you have an answer to that question, ask yourself this one:
“What might I now invent, that I haven’t yet invented, that would give me other choices?”
That’s from the book by Boston Philharmonic conductor Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility (co-authored by wife Rosamond Zander). It’s worth checking out of the library (or buying a used copy on Amazon; it’s several years old).
His perspective on leadership is a tightly choreographed masterpiece that offers each one of us looking to empower ourselves with new insight. These paradigm shifts in our thinking can easily translate into more effective ideas for how we work in the 21st century. That’s where understanding new perspectives helps us become smarter in our own skin.
He offers 12 rules to improve understanding of what and where potential is.
First, humans tend to be mono-focused individuals, meaning we miss a lot of what is going on around us. When this happens, opportunities right in front of us are stifled. He talks about connecting the dots in a writing exercise that challenges conventional problem solving. Great reminders of helping our brains think outside the boundaries we too often put ourselves into.
Second, optimism is empowering. The whole glass half-empty or half-full thinker. They believe measurements cause us to focus too narrowly on where we are today which encourages scarcity thinking. Particularly in this slowly recovering economy, focusing on today may seem the more solid strategy; in reality, it loses sight of creating a sustainable future. So concentrate on today — but have a year-long plan of goals, particularly when it comes to a solid marketing plan. Media can be revised as needed, but there must first be a commitment to that investment in yourself, a.k.a your business model.
Third, try this exercise: jot down on a piece of paper “why you deserve to succeed.” This will help you focus on excellence and takes away the tension that harms accomplishment.
Fourth, do you think of your role as ‘being a contributor?’ This is a much different mindset than being the boss (one who decides what must be done) or the employee (one who must do what he or she is delegated). A small shift in your thinking can quickly change what you could do when you become a ‘gift’ to others.
Fifth, write down several ways in which you can improve. If you know you are a procrastinator, disorganized, promise but rarely follow-up on customer service calls, seeing it in writing on a to-do list can put you back on course. Equate what priorities must be accomplished to your self-esteem and financial reward. Your customers deserve to get the best and they can only get it if you provide your best.
Sixth, this rule is non-negotiable. “Lighten up!” Being too serious too much of the time leads to a life of stress which often leads to serious health issues. Number one goal: laugh more often. Half of what you worry about will not happen with just this little shift.
Seventh, be present in the moment. Today’s technologies are great, but they also create a great disconnect from reality. Get back in touch with what is now thought of as ‘old school thinking.’ Call people more than email. Meet people face to face.
Eighth, where’s your passion? You’ll get further by advocating and going with your strong feelings. Don’t rely just on the facts. Intuition is the inner voice of leadership!
Ninth, be the light others see. Find your inner mentor. Make a difference.
Tenth, be the foundation others rely on.
Eleventh, create your vision and share it. Inspire others to contribute to your framework of possibility. Re-read Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech or select another insightful verse or quote that you can easily reference.
Twelfth, do you have a WE story? People tire quickly of “I, I, I.” This is a common mistake in many websites and the way so many businesses market themselves (me, me, me). No one cares unless you include them in some worthwhile way.
You must find ways, unique to you, that express your principles or essence of what you offer in a clear and defined way. Then, provide the incentives by which others want to join.
I’m often asked to define, “what is effective marketing?” Simply this: when we empower and motivate someone to take action in the way that helps our objective, we increase our effectiveness as leaders.
So, here’s your March quote of inspiration, curiously anonymous, that I keep as a daily reference: “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”