Think Ahead to Stay Ahead

How would you like to be able to get more done without working more?

This is called working smarter. I can teach you how.

I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t enjoy that!

If your life is like mine, it’s busier and more tangled than ever. So much to think about, to do and, at times, it’s overwhelming to say the least and harder than ever to get it all done! You have new demands, challenges and opportunities that seem to continually overflow your plate – and you begin to wonder: How am I going to get ahead?

Yup, we’re all busy. Yeah, there just isn’t enough time in the day. We all know it: life is hectic. So, this question is more relevant than ever in this busy, bustling world: Do you have the mental ability to get ahead?

Achieving a mental head start will require two things from you: direction (smarter) and discipline (do more). Both are vital to achieving more without working more.

What do informed and disciplined thinking do for you?

With a direction in mind, no time is lost on taking a wrong turn and arriving at dead ends or back where you started out in the first place. The map informs you, makes you smarter. With mental discipline, you gain focus to achieve more. Both direction and discipline work hand in hand.

Informed and disciplined thinking creates not only opportunity but it also properly aligns your priorities and opens you up for bigger picture thinking. Informed and disciplined thinking makes your time more effective. This enables you to invest more quality time with those you love.

In short, what you know and what you believe changes the way you see and interact with people and the world.

So many people walk around with no direction or discipline. They don’t know how to make informed and disciplined choices. Because of this, they interact with the world differently. I tell my wife often,  “Honey, I just don’t think people see the world and look at life the way I do!” Have you ever said that? Or thought it?

When you think ahead and stay ahead, you’ll be set apart from the others. Cream rises to the top, doesn’t it? When you learn to have a sharper mental direction and discipline, you’ll feel set apart, because you have a precious commodity not appreciated as much as it should be. Treasure it and use it as a leader to help others rise to the top, to their greatest potential.

Here are a few tools I use to keep myself in mental balance, both in direction and discipline. These are valuable, take note!

#1 Ask: Are you working and thinking in your strength zone?

Working and thinking in your areas of strength will bring a greater reward and return on your personal investment. Your time and effort will be better spent doing things you are naturally good at.

For me, I always weigh my thoughts and actions against my abilities. For instance, I know I’m not gifted in administration so I delegate in that area and give it minimal attention. Thinking this way opens me up for other opportunities in which I know I’ll be able to excel.

#2 Do: Pick a time to sit – be quiet and think!

When do you do your best thinking? When I coach people, I always say, “All positive change requires much preparation.” When you’re thirsty, don’t dig the well. Dig it in advance. Thinking is the same way – stay ahead and you will get ahead.

To transform into the person you wish to be requires a great deal of prayer, focus and thinking. Before a battle, what do the generals do? They think. They strategize.They pray.

To stay ahead of the action, to strategize and plan and pray, you need to give yourself the time. Sit still and capitalize on the silence!

#3 Know: Your temperament

Knowing your temperament gives you the awareness and freedom of knowing how you naturally think.

For me, this was a huge paradigm shift in thinking. Knowing and understanding behavioral types gave me the ability to UN-emotionalize situations, communicate more clearly and lead myself and others with more precision.

Developing this understanding will give you the ability to think beyond the surface of people’s words and actions, which will help you use your thoughts and time more efficiently. You’ll spend less time wondering why a certain person acts in a certain way or why so-and-so made that comment.

I’ll give you a personal example with my 9-year-old daughter. We were having a hard time trying to get through to her, to get her to obey happily or to ask her to be part of the “team” without her throwing a temper tantrum. Her temperament is similar to mine. Because I had the skills to recognize this, I was able to readjust our discipline and communication to fit her particular needs. She now listens better, helps more and is a happier part of the family “team” which gives us all more mental peace and satisfaction.

#4 Think: Leverage your thinking through shared communication.

Can you leverage your thoughts through shared thinking? With who, when, and why?

Some of my best thoughts and life strategies have come as a result of others. Begin sharpening your thoughts by bouncing them off trusted friends who share value and integrity. Their level of thinking may be able to lift your thinking up to a new level. Proverbs says it best: “Iron sharpens Iron.” Get out there and sharpen your mental iron.

#5 Filter: Identify and eliminate the thoughts that distract you from producing your fullest mental output

If you or someone you love was undergoing a very delicate operation, I’m sure you would want the doctor to be focusing and not distracted by internal troubles and thoughts.

We aren’t all surgeons but we all have priorities that deserve and demand our sharpest mental capacity. We all have delicate relationships, opportunities and dreams in front of us all the time that need focus and full mental attention.

Be aware of the things that distract you from what matters most. We have one life and one chance to win – take advantage of it.

#6 Prepare: Be ready for your opportunities

I’ve found that all great coaches or leaders were first able to lead themselves well before they lead others. Their preparation to lead others was in their self-possessed, organized way of living.

Think of it this way: If you don’t know where you are going both in vision and mental application, why would anyone want to follow you?

People follow leaders that are going somewhere, who are prepared mentally and have the will to win. Do yourself a favor: keep yourself sharp and prepared. Mentally prepare for situations and moments so that you’re better equipped to give your best. Wing it once, people don’t notice. Wing it twice, everyone knows.

At your most efficient, you’ll be disciplined, informed and making a bigger difference without working yourself to the bone. Stay ahead, set yourself apart and Go and Grow!

About E5 Leader

For the past 30 years, we’ve been teaching CEOs, leaders of teams, and stakeholders in a variety of industries how to achieve excellence and peace in equal measure. At E5 Leader, we believe that having all of the money and success in the world doesn’t matter if your relationships are falling apart or your health is failing. We believe there's no title on a page that can hold more sway than going to sleep at night knowing you’re in sync with those you love the most. At the end of the day, you’ll never be the leader out in the world you’re capable of being if you don’t know how to lead first from within.