Progress does not have to be slow and incremental. You can leapfrog several levels.
Many persons who apply for my programs or approach me for personal coaching feel stuck. They think they should be ahead of where they are and are frustrated at how slowly they are advancing.
It is possible for them to leapfrog several levels of accomplishment. And do it again. And again.
You can also do this. I will tell you how.
Stay with me to the end. I have a special offer for you.
Susan was steaming. She had been serving as the interim Chief Marketing Officer of a large electronics company and was on the committee searching for a permanent hire.
She had thrown her own hat in the ring and was the internal candidate. She had been with the company for five years, had received stellar reviews and thought that she was well liked.
She was highly qualified with a Bachelor’s in Science from Harvard and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
David was the final choice. He also had a science background and an MBA from Columbia. He graduated three years after her and was four years younger.
Everyone thought he was smart and an up and comer who would go places fast.
She just thought that so was she and she had more experience and was better.
Susan did not know why she had not coasted into the job as the best candidate. She was unsure whether her gender worked against her and this bothered her.
She was mad and was considering quitting.
Something like this has happened to you.
Or it will.
Someone younger and seemingly less qualified will zoom past you in some area that is important to you.
What should you do?
What can you do.
The answer comes at distinct levels.
First, it is extraordinarily dumb – and toxic – to measure yourself against someone else and let this determine your well-being.
This is so important that I will devote several columns to it in coming months.
Second, you can do stuff to jump ahead in your own career.
Let’s talk about this.
We believe that success comes from patient hard work and climbing the ladder of success step by step.
You can jump ahead to the next queue and then move to the head of the one after that.
You cannot achieve such spurts by working harder. In fact, working harder may actually set you back.
You cannot do it by working smarter. In these connected days everyone is privy to the same knowledge sources.
You cannot do it by managing your time better. This is a seductive notion but you will be dismayed at how much time you spend in your effort to manage that time.
The only way you can achieve such jumps in your life is by thinking differently.
By thinking radically differently.
This is not a new concept. Every one knows it at some level and you have been exposed to the idea many times in your life.
You have been told to ‘see the glass as half-full, not half empty’ and that ‘every problem is an opportunity in disguise’ and you know that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’.
But, despite this, the vast majority find it difficult to ‘think differently’.
You cannot think differently by trying to think differently.
The only way you can consistently think differently is by examining the mental models you hold that cause you to think differently, and making changes in them.
There will be small tweaks and major re-structuring but when you are done you will see the world differently.
What appears to others as radically different thinking seems natural to you.
Here is an example of what I mean:
I grew up in India in a middle class family.
My father was a government bureaucrat and my mother was a home-maker. We were not poor but there wasn’t a whole lot of discretionary cash lying around.
One evening we were walking close to an open air market in Karol Bagh, a section of Delhi, when I was approached by a vendor who was selling stuff from a wooden shelf strapped to his back.
I was taken by a book called Just Like Daddy.
It was blue and had pictures and it told a story of a boy who got up in the morning and brushed his teeth just like daddy and did other things like his father.
It was actually two books because if you flipped it around it turned pink and had a little girl who did things Just Like Mommy.
For some reason I cannot fathom now, I really, really, really wanted that book.
I put in a petition and my parents looked at it.
It had only a few words on each page and I was already reading junior classics, so my petition was denied.
We walked on.
The vendor followed behind. Every time I looked back he flashed the book at me.
He seemed to have a child-like faith in my ability to swing the deal and was eager for me to do so.
Perhaps his children’s dinner depended on my success.
My mother was a frugal lady who hardly ever bought anything for herself.
She saw a purse she liked and reached for it.
I saw my opportunity and dived into it like a trained seal.
With tears rolling down my cheeks I bawled loudly and asked how she could possibly buy something so utterly useless as a purse while there was this great educational material that they were denying me.
It was a low blow.
Back went the purse and I got Just Like Daddy.
I was pleased as Punch and there was distinct coolness between my parents and me for a while.
I mention this story because, a couple of decades later, I saw Just Like Daddy in a flea market.
All the memories came flooding back.
But there was a difference.
I remembered clearly all that had happened but Just Like Daddy no longer had any hold on me.
I did not want it.
I did not ‘not want’ it.
It was irrelevant to my life.
I had outgrown my need for Just Like Daddy.
Look back on your life. You will recall something that, at that time, you desperately wanted.
You may have gotten it. Or you may not have gotten it.
It does not matter.
What matters is that you no longer have a need for it.
It is irrelevant to your life now. You have outgrown it.
Right now, in your life, there is something that you want a great deal. It is creating turmoil in your life because you do not have it.
Perhaps you want your bank to extend your credit line so you can expand your business.
Or your daughter to shape up and improve her grades.
Or your company to make the Best Place to Work List.
Or your in-laws to move to Australia.
There is something you want, and you don’t have it and it is causing angst to you.
Here is my question for you:
Would you rather get what you want?
Would you rather outgrow your need for it as I outgrew my need for Just Like Daddy and you outgrew your need for countless things in the past?
Imagine you have vaulted to level so much higher than where you are that you no longer have the need for the experience you are seeking.
What would your life be like?
Think about it.
It is a good illustration of what I mean when I exhort you to think differently.
I will say more about this in future columns.
But here is an exercise you can do right away to get you started on thinking differently.
Pick anything going on in your life right now that is soaking up a lot of emotional energy.
Something that you see as a ‘bad thing’ or even a ‘very bad thing.’
Is there any scenario you can visualize by which this could turn out to be a ‘good thing’ in a few months or years?
And then ask yourself if there is anything that you can proactively do to make it a good thing?
Asking this question and taking such action moves you from the realm of despair to the realm of possibility.
And it makes you resilient. So resilient that others wonder how you do it.
One of my students was laid off from a large technology company that had a reputation for not firing its workers.
It was a major shock. His wife was a home-maker and he had four children.
The company did not want a reputational hit so he got a handsome severance package. He used it to start a business that prospered mightily and more than replaced his income within two years.
Do email me about how this worked out for you. I would like to know!
P.S.: Enrollment in my signature personal transformation experience, Creativity and Personal Mastery (CPM) is now open. Many who have taken CPM say it has changed so many of their mental models that it has made them a new person.
And, of course, this new person naturally thinks differently.
If you apply right away you get a discount of more than $1,000.00. This saving certainly helps but the real benefit is the change that happens within you that lets you experience life ever so differently and joyously.
And which helps you reach heights you never dreamed possible even as the sense of effort and strain leave you.
New York dates: March 15-17, April 12-14m May 24-26
London dates: May 10-12, June 14-16, July 26-28
I hope to see you in one of them.