Better Thinking For A Better World
How to think more critically and strategically in a world filled with complexity and rapid change.
We take the act of thinking for granted. It is often seen as a skill one is born with and not one that should be cultivated over time.
As the world becomes more complex and more busy, strategic and critical thinking becomes more valuable. Strategic thinking points to the ability to decide how and when to deploy resources to achieve a certain end state.
Below are four areas of focus that will improve your strategic thinking:
1. Making Time For Reflection
Life is busy. Juggling work, friends and family, and the recurring notifications from your phone has become quite a feat. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to create space for reflection.
Time spent in solitude allows you to reflect and connect the dots. It temporarily takes you out of a world in which you must be reactive to survive and keep up.
My suggestion is to create a SOS (space of solitude) for at least 30 minutes every day. In this time, reflect on what has been working and what has not been working. Meditate on your goals for the future and plan for the actions that will help you get there.
2. Asking Better Questions
Many of us fall into the trap of sequential problem solving. This happens when leaders or organisations simply move from one challenge to the next and the only question they ask is “how do we overcome this challenge?”.
What about the questions like “how did we arrive here?” or “what assumptions are we making here?” or “what does better look like?”
I am not trying to give you a template of questions to ask. Merely prodding you to go beyond challenging the problem but to also challenge the thinking about the problem.
As we deepen our questions, we elevate our thinking.
Do not simply ask more questions. Ask better questions.
3. Seek More Input
Teams are great and often underutilized. How can you use your team’s knowledge, experience, and opinions in a more constructive way?
Well, how about allowing them sufficient time for reflection in solitude but also as a group. How about prompting them to look for the patterns in their environment? How about, as a leader, asking them questions that allow them to really stretch their cognitive abilities?
Even better, empower them to ask those questions themselves.
Related: Disruptive Thinking: A Winning Edge
4. Thinking rules
We often make the same mistakes over and over. Not because we have not learned the lesson but because the context changes. Or excitement gets the better of us.
During your reflection time (hopefully you have noticed the importance of this by now) you can reflect on your past decisions and figure out how you could have made better decision.
Once you have done this start jotting down a few personal rules that will help guide your decision making in the future. A personal guideline I established was that I will wait 24 hours before making any big purchase. Gadgets and golf gear often get the best of me. But simple rules like these help to guide my decision making and prevents me from making mistakes irrespective of context or emotional state.
What is next?
Starting today schedule a daily SOS. Yes, schedule it. Do not leave it to chance.
Think of it as training for your brain. A space where you get to think. Free of distraction and noise. You will be amazed at the clarity that comes from these sessions and how your productivity and effectiveness soars.
Flourishing Through Failure And Finding Fortune
What we mean by business failure is not the entire business failing due to running out of money or not meeting the target for the year.
Is there a way to flourish through failure when it comes to business operations? Is it something that should be encouraged or stand as grounds for dismissal? Or is all of this just nonsense in a world attempting to pursue perfection?
Let’s talk about failure
What we mean by business failure is not the entire business failing due to running out of money or not meeting the target for the year. We’re looking into the business, into those that make it run – its people.
People are imperfect and make mistakes all the time. But rather than brushing something off as a fail or mistake does no justice when it comes to learning from it. And there are different definitions and degrees of failure based on department and responsibility. But when you mess up and fail, you affect more than just your individual performance.
Related: Smart Money For Small Businesses
Here’s why it can be good for business
As frustrating as it is to have to “clean up” after an employee messes up, failure can actually be good for business.
- Fewer mistakes: Failing means you can learn from it and be less susceptible to failure in that area again in the future. When you fail, you become a lot more aware of your actions than before and critically analyse before you act for fear of messing up again.
- Relatability: This will never be a perfect world and businesses and people that don’t mess up are an intimidating and alien concept to the rest of us. If the incident affects the entire business, then use that material to tell your “success from failure” story and show everyone that you’re human and that it is possible to come back from it. Failure makes you relatable in the eyes of the public.
- Humility: In the same breath, you (as a business) learn to be humble in the times you do succeed, as those moments can be fleeting.
- Focus: Failure brings a newfound focus and determination to work harder and be better. It’s a shock to the system where you’re forced to bounce-back or continue to fail and jeopardise your position in the business.
- Innovation: And, finally, failure can be good for business when it encourages innovation. You need to innovate and find a way to sort out the problem that’s been created in a way that will also discourage it from happening again.
Finding fortune in failure
The abovementioned benefits, if you will, of failure are in themselves favoured fortune found in failing. But there are things such as intelligent failures, trial and error, and inspiration that are the true game changers when it comes to failing.
Intelligent failure is defined by Sim Sitkin as: “Learning, maximised and accelerated through the act of trial, error and communicating stories.”
These failures are, almost, planned specifically to generate a profitable and successful outcome. At a risk, of course, because you never actually know what the outcome is. Having a business strategy and plan, created with so much detail, gets put to the test where a trial and error system is used to determine what works, what needs to be tweaked, and what needs to be completely discarded and redesigned.
With intelligent failure, it’s what you make of it and where your motivation to fail is to progress. Unlike preventable and unavoidable failures.
But, in the moment, it’s always a bit harder to see the end of a failure’s repercussions. You do need to find a way to move forward though, once you’ve learned a lesson, there’s no point in wasting time dwelling on it. You need to keep moving forward.
Do what you need to do to better yourself and avoid similar situations in the future. One way to do that is to keep learning and adapting with that knowledge. Invest your time in sales, human resources, management or marketing courses. Whatever it takes to better your skills and encourage your mind to think more strategically and carefully when it comes to doing the job.
Get it into your head now that you will never be able to please everyone. And if you can do your job, own up to your errors, but a the same time provide your solutions, you will remain valuable to the business.
In order to move forward, you need to find your motivation and keep it going after you fail. And the way you do this is through support.
Every business operates as a team and you don’t have to be in it alone.
Take more calculated risks and try new things to challenge yourself to do better and find innovative solutions. This will keep you focused and motivated to keep pushing through previous disappointments as it will be a new and fun way of doing your job.
Magnify your goals, literally, on the wall or on your desktop. Keep reminding yourself what you’re striving for and understand that even when you do fail, that the goal has yet to be achieved and is still possible if you just put your mind to it.
At the end of the day, failure is whatever you make of it. You can choose to let it discourage you or you can manipulate it to help you grow and make you more resilient. Failure is an opportunity to do better next time and all successful business people fail, they just know how to deal with it.
Want To Feel Empowered? Check Out These 17 Quotes From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders
To achieve success, you must constantly feel empowered.
Feel empowered with these 17 quotes from famous leaders and entrepreneurs from around the worldCoco Chanel
With entrepreneurship comes its own set of trials and tribulations. Whether it’s bouncing back from failure or dealing with difficult investors, every stage of the entrepreneurial journey has its challenges. And to be successful, having the endurance to push through the tough times is necessary. Often, feeling empowered and being inspired will help get you there.
Empowerment is a necessity when it comes to building confidence, moving towards your goal and not listening to any discouraging words from others. And while empowerment can come from a variety of places, it has to start from within. As Coco Chanel once said, “My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.”
“The cynics may be the loudest voices – but I promise you, they will accomplish the least.” – Barack Obama
“I’m not the bravest or smartest person, but I’m courageous enough to dream big, challenge myself and take bold risks.” – Richard Branson
“It seems like the world is crumbling out there, but it is actually a great time in your life to get a little crazy, follow your curiosity and be ambitious about it.” – Larry Page
“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.” – Coco Chanel
“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” – Michelle Obama
“If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison
“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it.” – Sheryl Sandberg
“As is a tale, so is life: Not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” – J.K Rowling
“Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them.” – Mark Cuban
“In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.” – Jeff Bezos
“Sometimes, I shake if I have to do something that I’ve never done before – maybe not noticeably, but inside. But I’ll do it because I know it’s not an insurmountable task.” – Martha Stewart
“In your defining moments, do not let your morals be swayed by convenience or expediency. Sticking to your character requires a lot of courage.” – Steven Spielberg
“Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more proactive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” – Warren Buffett
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
“The value of achievement lies in the achieving.” – Albert Einstein
“It’s your game; make up your own rules.” – Barbara Corcoran
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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