Rigid thinking is natural to the human psyche. This rigidity causes people to repeatedly apply the same behaviours over and over to diverse business situations. The reality is that people are the most comfortable doing what they know or have done in the past.
The challenge that arises is that diverse problems require varied responses, yet human beings are especially prone to doing what they’re familiar with because it doesn’t awaken any fear.
Fear leads to rigid thinking and subsequently blocks abundance. This is how people get stuck in self-doubt, confusion and stress and their energy drains away as they dip into despondency and frustration.
These psychological states of mind are the reason many aspiring leaders quit. They cannot move past the fact that the approaches they think should work don’t. And so self-doubt and fear take over and the entrepreneurs feel blocked. Successful leaders wage war on these habituated patterns and this, in turn, leads to their success.
1. Breaking mental patterns
Successful leaders fight against their habitual tendencies. They force themselves to react to what’s happening in the present moment without going back and trying to apply past philosophies.
Great leaders know that in order to be successful they have to be hard-nosed and not let their reactive emotional responses get in the way of a current business opportunity.
They are adept at yanking themselves away from using the same tired methods, even when it involves risk and invokes fear. They are clear that everything they want exists on the other side of fear and so they jump.
2. Creating shock
In moving away from rigid and safe decision-making responses, great leaders are aware that while they might sacrifice emotional comfort and security, they will gain the element of surprise.
Because they can be flexible in the present, they are unpredictable. This is powerful for leadership and success as their creating shock doesn’t allow customers, competitors and strategic partners to know what they will do next.
This creates further interest and fascination with the entrepreneur and also generates awe and respect. Shock inspires people to pay close attention and want to follow.
3. Using mindfulness
Successful leaders are clear that being elite in a field is not just about having knowledge.
When a deal is lost, the problem is often not because a person thought of a solution too late. Some individuals will ruminate, “If only I had had more knowledge.”
Successful leaders know this is an incorrect approach. What creates failure is not being mindful of the present moment. Great leaders refrain from getting lost listening to their own thoughts, reacting to things that happened in the past and habitually applying prior concepts and ideas to the present, which might have little relevance to what the situation is calling for.
They are able to stay attuned to the demands of a current deal, letting them spontaneously figure out what needs to be accomplished (which may be entirely different from similar prior negotiations).
4. Embracing the unexpected
Accomplished leaders dispel the myth of preparation as being the greatest strategy for success. Top leaders know that no amount of thinking in advance can prepare them for the chaos of business or the infinite opportunities of today’s deal.
The current negotiation is completely new and full of possibility – which a fixed mind won’t be able to see. The present moment is fresh and always brings uncertainty and great leaders know their minds have to keep up with change and adapt to elements that are unexpected.
In this way, knowledge, experience and theory have limitations and can be deterrents to seizing and keeping up with unexpected changes arising from the present arrangement.
5. Developing a flowing mind
Successful leaders view the mind through the metaphor of a river. The faster the mind can flow, the better it keeps up with the present and responds to change. The faster it flows, the more it refreshes itself and the greater the momentum.
Fixated thoughts, past experiences (whether successes or failures) and rigid ideas act as boulders in this river, damming it up. When blocked, the river stops moving and stagnation sets in. For this reason, great leaders wage war on their mind so it’s open to the flow and keeps up with the creativity of the present opportunity on the line.
To improve leadership skills and become an esteemed leader, a person must shed old traditions and misconceptions. Strategy does not involve learning a series of steps to follow like a recipe because success has no magic formula.
To lead effectively, people must learn to become their own strategists, based on intuition and relying on new and unused tactics. They have to take chances that may not at first seem to make sense.
The greatest leaders, the most creative tacticians stand out not because they have more knowledge but because they are able when necessary to drop their preconceived notions and focus intensely on the present moment and all it has to offer. That is how creativity is sparked and new possibilities in business are seized.
Related: Leading in Challenging Times
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.