It's easy to fall prey to mediocrity. But, when you’re willing to put in the hard work and do what many people will not do, you'll find that the payoff is well worth it.
Doing things differently than the masses takes a level of commitment that not everyone is willing to make. As a matter of fact, many will retreat at the first sign of a challenge. The reason? There's comfort in doing things as we always have, even when they no longer serve us. The first step to breaking this cycle is to remember that everyone faces roadblocks and resistance when trying a different approach. To overcome this, we must put aside outdated thought processes ingrained in us years ago and instead explore new ways to do things.
What does this have to do with business?
If we're willing to do what others won't, we radically improve the odds of achieving our plans and goals. As we explore this concept, keep in mind that your work will never truly be done. You will always have new opportunities and ideas to consider. But the key point to remember is this: If you're unwilling to take the path many fear to tread, those without fear will pass you along the way.
If you want the best view, you must be willing to climb the mountain
The lovely Christy and I were vacationing in Yosemite National Park this summer, and one of our goals was to complete the famously strenuous 7.6-mile hike up Upper Yosemite Falls. However, in order to fully focus on the experience, we needed to avoid the masses who stop and congregate part of the way up. The only way to do this was to start much earlier than everyone else. As we were making our ascent shortly after 6 am (with only a few dedicated souls around), it hit me that this hike was just like everything in life and business. When you're willing to do things that most people won't do, you get results and have experiences that most people don't have.
Sacrifice short-term gains for long-term sustainability
It's important to be willing to sacrifice short-term gains if it means you'll get a long-term benefit.
So many companies in the trades often make decisions based on what will make the most money right now. For instance, many saw the recent market as a way to make a quick profit and sell. This is short-term thinking.
However, there are many cases where long-term thinking is needed instead. If you didn't sell your business during the private-equity acquisition flurry we've seen, I'm assuming you're in this for the long run. If that's the case, you view your business more like a marathon than a short-term profit sprint. This means you look for long-term gains rather than short-term gains that may not be sustainable. Long-term thinking strikes a balance between profits and efficiency. What do you need to invest in today to be more efficient tomorrow? To answer this question, you must dig back into the "why" you went into business in the first place.
Make necessary changes
Most people don't like change, but some resist change more than others. Trying to persuade someone to do something differently, especially if you're in business with them, can be a challenge. There are many common reasons why people resist changing their behavior or approach. It may be because theydon't understand the benefits of making the change. Or maybe they don't think they’re capable of making the change in the first place. It could also be fear of being bad at something new. People worry about failure, so avoiding any situation where they might fail is their default reaction. These fears are real but not impossible to overcome.
The best way to overcome this is to demonstrate how much they'll benefit from making the changes you're advocating. Set the example by making changes to your products, your price, your promotions or whatever else you're presenting to clients and team members. Explain the benefits and the risks involved and guide them on how to proceed. If you don't convince the person, they probably won't make the change. When your actions prove to be an advantage, the case you're trying to make will be much stronger. This is a skill that leaders need to work on continually. Sell your vision and live it!
Have confidence in yourself
The most significant factor in overcoming any challenge is self-confidence. If you lack confidence, you won't be able to achieve any success in life. Unfortunately, a lack of confidence is a widespread problem in society today. People criticize themselves for not being able to do things, which in turn makes them feel even more inadequate. This can affect someone’s ability to take action in both their personal life and their business. People who lack self-confidence can easily become negative. They refuse to see anything as positive in their lives and assume it's because they don't deserve it. This negativity is their comfort zone. When this happens, the negative thoughts are reflected in their actions or lack thereof. This cyclical thinking means they’re defeated before they even begin.
When your actions prove to be an advantage, the case you're trying to make will be much stronger. This is a skill that leaders need to work on continually. Sell your vision and live it!
If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will either. That may sound like a cliché, but it's true. Once you start believing in yourself and becoming more confident, you'll attract and connect with others who also believe in you. This is key to the success of your business and you as a leader.
As with everything else, though, balance is needed. Confidence and humility are both essential to our happiness and satisfaction in our overall lives. But remember, there's a difference between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is self-centered; it says to others that you're proud of yourself and your accomplishments (even if a team helped you get there). Arrogance reads not as true confidence but as insecurity about who you are, what you're capable of, and what you can do. Think social media and ego-driven comparison platforms as the perfect place to find those trying a little too hard to portray power and success. Confidence, on the other hand, means you have faith in yourself and your abilities. You don't need to brag or tell people what you can do. It's just a matter of believing in yourself.
People who are happy and confident can be both inspiring and inspired. They’re more effective at achieving their goals and won't give up easily, even if the situation seems hopeless. They tell themselves that they're deserving and achievement is possible. It's this mindset that makes for a good leader, one who shows up when your team needs you.
Are you willing?
Just remember, it starts with the willingness to do what others will not, whether it's simply getting up before everyone else to hike or committing to training your team and up-leveling your results. Raise your confidence by trying things, even if that means "failing" forward. And here's a bonus; when you do this, you'll receive support from those around you. Just keep doing what most people won't. You've got this!
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