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Elevate Your Success with Five Simple Steps

People often convince themselves that highly successful individuals who possess a special gift set themselves apart from everyone else. However, the reality is that your ability to have success, however you define it, can be accomplished with a few simple steps.

Personal responsibility for our actions is seldom championed in society these days, and like it or not, we all live with the consequences of the lifestyle choices that we make every day. We can sit in an office staring at a spreadsheet waiting for our situation to improve or make a few changes that will put us on a path to shaping a better future for ourselves and others. The following are five simple steps you can take to elevate your level of success.

1. Challenge Your Habits and Change Your Routine

It is incredibly easy to fall into the comforts offered by habits and routines, those that make our lives feel like a scene from Groundhog Day, in which the alarm wakes us at the same time every day as we hit the snooze button at least once before jumping into the shower. The familiarity of the daily grind, in which grabbing a coffee as you head into the office before performing the same tasks, can be comforting, yet we often wonder why nothing ever changes.

Our education system tends to encourage everyone to learn one correct answer and basically think in the same way. And when it comes to creativity, only a small number of people might be thought of as “creatives,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Technology is increasingly replacing laborious and repetitive tasks with automation. Creativity and critical thinking have become essential skills in the 21st century and possess the power to make you stand out from the crowd.

There are countless self-help books that advise you how to create new patterns and habits to help you achieve your goals. However, simply getting off the hamster wheel of life and allowing yourself to mix things up by both thinking and doing things differently is a great place to start, and it will stimulate creative thought.

2. Surround Yourself with People Who Lift You Up

They say that we become like the five people we spend the most time with, and ultimately they have the power to either inspire or drain us, so maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the amount of time that you spend with toxic individuals who only bring you down.

Surround yourself with like-minded souls on a similar journey or, better yet, those who can see the big picture better than you can. They will help you see failure as an opportunity and will certainly increase your odds of achieving your dreams.

Business is 80% people and 20% everything else, and this illustrates the importance of investing your time in getting to know open-minded individuals who enjoy helping turn others’ dreams into reality. What if you surrounded yourself with inspiration?

3. Fuel Your Creativity

If you begin your day reading the news that reminds you of all the negative aspects of our world, followed by looking at social media sites that show snapshots of lives that are edited to look much better than your own, you will never increase your productivity or creativity. I like to start each day thinking of all the things I’m grateful for. It’s hard to have a bad day when you start your day like this. Try it!

Whether they are stuck in a traffic jam or are on a delayed train or airplane, or even doing household chores, highly successful people unleash the power of refueling their creativity during these moments of “dead time” by reading books or listening to podcasts.

Books and podcasts on subjects that stretch your thinking are a fantastic way to stay inspired and learn new tools you can use to resolve problems that are stopping you from reaching your goals. Try having fewer calls with people who pull you down and don’t help you move forward, and instead call people who lift you up, or watch a good TED Talk or listen to podcasts or audiobooks that offer advice and insights from others.

Removing yourself from a routine or familiar surroundings and going for a walk in a direction where you haven’t gone before instead of staring at a screen will help a lot. Highly successful individuals often find that their brains will naturally join the dots when they expose themselves to new ideas, surroundings and experiences.

4. Bring Focus and Clarity to Your Dreams

Bringing focus and clarity to your dreams while working alone in front of a computer in a dimly lit room is good, but is not enough on its own. Do not underestimate the importance of sharing and communicating your vision with others. It will attract the right people to you who will begin to see where you are going and offer ideas to help you get there.

By sharing your passion for a future vision and communicating the message with transparency on how it will be achieved, you will find people who can help you to create a solid path to achieve your goals.

5. Embrace Marginal Gains

When Dave Brailsford became the manager of Great Britain’s professional cycling team, no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France. However, he had a simple concept known as “aggregation of marginal gains” that would revolutionize the sport and lead to his team members becoming tournament champions and Olympic gold medal winners.

The philosophy involved improving tiny areas that were traditionally overlooked by 99 percent in the belief that a long list of 1% improvements would be the difference between being champions or losers.

Researching for a pillow that offered the best sleep for cyclists to take to hotels, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection, were just a few of a long list of improvements that, although they looked tiny, ended up making a massive difference.

Whether you want to lose weight, build a business or achieve any other goal in life, it’s clear that heading straight for the moon with only one step will almost certainly result in failure or demotivation.

Small changes to your daily routine, such as creating a new email signature or changing those boring, stuffy group meetings by asking better questions, could boost your momentum and enthusiasm. All these changes not only deliver long-term improvements but also improve the overall quality of your life.

Will what got you to where you are be enough to take you to the next level? There are entire chapters on how to act in the future in my latest book The Anticipatory Organization. I’ll buy the book, you pay the shipping cost. Click here to order your copy.
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Best Practices Growth Management Skills Technology

Elevate Cognitive Performance

By Daniel Burrus and Neil Smith

(In this blog series on how elevating cognitive performance is a game changer for organizations, I’ve invited Neil Smith, CTO at Think Outcomes, to join me in writing on this important topic due to his expertise and the cognitive performance software his firm has created.)

Improving cognitive performance is a strategic imperative for anticipatory leaders. With the availability of data, cognitive technology and performance analytics, stakeholders expect stronger performance, higher transparency, greater controls and clearer communications.

Performance Analytics for Cognitive Work

The transactional operations of an organization have demonstrated how people, process, technology, information and analytics can transform their processes and improve performance before, during and after a customer transaction. A key area that is ripe for improvement is the cognitive operations of an organization where the same principles involving the mind, cognitive processes, cognitive performance technology and performance analytics can transform critical thinking and stakeholder communications.

Cognitive Performance Rings

Business professionals are similar to athletes. Both groups seek to achieve greatness from their actions and get to the top of their game. LeBron James in the NBA, Serena Williams in tennis and Usain Bolt in running at the Olympic Games are all recognized for their individual achievements and team play. They didn’t just arrive. They work every day to close their own performance rings on their journey to greater precision in their craft. The same is possible for professionals. They need to not only outthink their competitors, they need to outperform themselves because they know their last performance is their last impression. Their performance is their memorable stamp on their organization and their industry.

Cognitive performance rings illustrate current and expected effectiveness in cognitive performance.

The activities performed in the minds of critical thinkers, decision makers and stakeholders are represented through cognitive performance rings in the eight performance indicators of cognitive effectiveness below.

From decades of experiences, we recognized the effectiveness of cognitive work across a wide variety of professionals in business, which are shown in the cognitive performance rings below.  Each performance ring illustrates indicators for the common ranges of current effectiveness along with their expected effectiveness.

When reviewing each performance ring, think about where your teams stand with respect to their cognitive effectiveness. Then prioritize which performance rings are important to you and your organization at this time to help it learn, grow and compete more effectively.

Eight Performance Indicators of Cognitive Effectiveness

How well is your team doing?

Performance indicator 1 — Critical Thinking

How well does your team think critically about risks and benefits?
‘Most people believe their minds lead them down a logical path. Yet, we don’t have a way to challenge the way we think in the moment.

Performance indicator 2 — Stakeholder Communications

How well does your team advance decisions with stakeholders?
‘Our stakeholders increasingly need evidence in a structured way that supports their perspectives and their questions. We don’t have a structured operating process to bring stakeholders into the decision making process easily.’

Performance indicator 3 — Cognitive Collaboration

How well does your team achieve breakthroughs during collaboration?
‘In our meetings, we can’t visualize what’s in each other’s heads. Our current processes don’t provide us a way to arrive at insights and foresights with the amount of time we have together. Frankly, it’s a challenge during this time of expected innovation.’

Performance indicator 4 — Decision Execution

How well does your team execute decisions with foresight?
‘We over rely on our gut instincts. We learn from hindsight. It’s concerning to us because change is no longer constant. It’s accelerating. We need a way to become more anticipatory.’

Performance indicator 5 — Performance Conditions

How well does your team establish upper and lower thresholds for thinking and communications?
‘We don’t share thresholds enough. When we do, we share thresholds verbally and in documents. The only way we shape the cognitive behaviors across our teams is through our review processes by management. This approach affects our culture and we don’t know how to address it.’

Performance indicator 6 — Performance Compliance

How well does your team incorporate performance conditions during thinking and communications?
‘The goals and objectives of our stakeholders aren’t transparent for our team. When we do receive them, we incorporate conditions we remember. We need a systematized way to incorporate conditions into our cognitive work.’

Performance indicator 7 — Uncertainty Monitoring

How well does your team anticipate disruption?
‘We don’t anticipate disruption enough. We are susceptible to external forces as we don’t monitor indicators that can disrupt our business.’

Performance indicator 8 — Performance Advisory

How well does your team strengthen the performance of other teams?
‘We try to lead from experience. Yet, we can’t dedicate the amount of time necessary to accelerate the growth of each individual. We need to provide a way to help them self-learn and deepen their intelligence even more. That would help all of us.’

The performance yield of each ring begins with questions of uncertainty that span outcomes, impact, risk, opportunity, implications, consequences, causation or cause and effect. Performance yields arise from insights and strategic foresights in the minds of professionals. With dashboards presented the way their minds work, professionals lean in and think more deeply about situations. As they access correlated data at the speed of thought, they create performance analytics that challenge the way they think about their current situations. When they visualize indicators and patterns within dashboards about the current and target states of their subject profiles, they work in a software environment to engage their thinking, create their ah-ha moments and generate counterintuitive wisdom.

Tom Brady was selected 199th in the NFL draft by the New England Patriots and became the most decorated quarterback in history. All professionals have an opportunity for greatness. Beyond the physical game, it starts with their cognitive tools.

Learn how to elevate your planning, accelerate innovation and transform results with The Anticipatory Learning System and how to maximize the cognitive performance of your team with Cognitive Performance Software.

Digital transformation has divided us all into two camps: the disruptor and the disrupted. The Anticipatory Organization gives you the tools you need to see disruption before it happens, allowing you to turn change into advantage. Pick up a copy today at www.TheAOBook.com.

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