Remember, my approach is to give this information to you in small, foundational bites that you can easily digest and integrate into your thinking if you so choose.

We started off talking about having the Vision to see yourself already operating at the next level. You can maybe think of it as putting together a puzzle. And in this case, it’s important to see the picture before you can start putting the pieces of it together. But again, we should note that the puzzle picture may change over time and so may the pieces. Being aware of that possibility and not getting invested in narrow expectations, especially where future outcomes are variable… is key.

(NOTE: Some of what I’m going to tell you now you may have read in other posts here. That’s OK. Repetition is important because it helps us embed these basic ideas into our thinking. Just keep reading. Maybe a few more bulbs will light up.)

So… Previously, I mentioned something about expectations, so I want to spend a little more time on that before we go much further.

I learned, maybe 10 or 15 years ago that it was time to remove the word failure from my vocabulary.

I’ve always referred to this as The Expectation Game, and this phrase is probably not original to me, but how I use it and put it together may be. Most of what I talk about comes from many years of doing and learning, doing and learning – over and over again. There was lots of trial and error. Sometimes it felt like more error and often that turned into something we could definitely brand as failure. Most of us have had those. If you think you haven’t – you may be delusional. But at the very least, you’ve missed out.

I say that, because I learned, maybe 10 or 15 years ago that it was time to remove the word failure from my vocabulary. And again, I credit a great friend and teacher for this incredible piece of wisdom. But at that point, it became clear to me that everything I thought was a failure, was in actuality – Research and Development. That’s right – R&D. Think about it.

Now in the real world of R&D, there’s always a ton of things that don’t work out. But if we’re doing it right, we’re learning something from everything that goes wrong. And over time, the sum totals of what we learn turn into knowledge and expertise.

So try looking backwards at the things you may have seen as failures, and start relabeling them as R&D. Then recognize all that you’ve learned from that and what knowledge and expertise you’ve gained as a result. This can be a very uplifting and positive exercise.

Now on to The Expectation Game. And again this is not complicated at the foundational level. But let’s think about all the expectations most of us have. I’ve just arbitrarily divided them into two kinds, Primary Expectations and Secondary Expectations. Again, I don’t know that this is original to me but it’s a simple process that makes things a lot easier.

I think it makes sense that we have operational expectations. You know, like the airplane will fly properly, the toaster will toast, the smart phone will be smart and work as it should – as long as you pay the bill and have a signal. You get the picture. Those are my Primary Expectations. And for sure, there are lots of them.

My Secondary Expectations are not really expectations at all. Really, it’s just one giant generic expectation that you might look at as operating in the expectancy of the best possible result. And I try to apply this principle to anything that has a variable outcome. And for sure, there’s a lot of those in both our business and professional activities as well as our personal lives.

I speak often about keeping your eye on the destination and keeping all your options open on how you’re going to get there. For me, that means, I’m operating on the idea that in most situations, there are always multiple pathways that will get you where you want to go – or, someplace better. When we create a very narrow expectation of how something should happen, we all too often set ourselves up for, at best, a disappointment – at worst, a failure. Sound familiar?

When we can let go of these kinds of secondary expectations, and adopt a view that is more like “this, or something better” especially when something along the path doesn’t seem to be working, we are then, in my opinion, far less likely to be derailed in our journey.

Now, in Part 2 of this post series, I started talking about implementing your Vision by outlining some behavioral characteristics that are critical to the process. The first characteristic is Attitude and I mentioned three elements to look for. Those are Polarity – are you positive or negative? View, are you long-term or short-term? And, are you doing this for love or money?

The second characteristic is Focus and my three primary elements are ClarityDiscipline and Routine.

Now I’m going to introduce the third characteristic. You knew there would be three, right? So we’re talking about Knowledge. And this is all about knowing what you know. In other words, understanding the depth and breadth of your own usable knowledge can be very helpful. And down the road, we’ll get into leveraging it, but first I want to lay out the three elements of Knowledge as I see it.

First, there are Skills. What do you know how to do? And more specifically, what do you know how to do that will help advance your vision? Of course, you may not have all the skills needed here, but that brings me to element number two.

My second element is Resources. What resources are available to you to take care of the things you don’t know how to do, don’t have time to do or just don’t want to do? And remember, we’re just talking about knowledge-related resources here.

And there’s a third and vital element, which is Experience. Now there are those that say experience doesn’t mean as much in this “immediate everything” world we operate in today. The thinking on that, I suppose, is that things are changing so fast that much of the tangible experience that people draw on is rendered obsolete in fairly short order now, thus making it far less relevant.

But, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m referring to your experience in thinking! Have you learned from your experiences how to think about and process your skills and resources in the most useful and productive way?

For instance, can you, based on your experience, articulate your own skillset and where and how those skills can be applied? Based on your experience, can you determine what resources you have and where they can be used most effectively?

In the 1980’s, I owned a design and advertising agency. In those days we used those big hot wax machines that you rolled type galleys and other artwork through in order to paste them up on artboards. The experience of using the waxers would be of little use to me today, but the knowledge of how to effectively integrate the tools of the trade to create a productive result effectively transcends the obsolescence or innovation of the tools themselves.

And that’s the kind of experience I’m talking about here.

OK, for some of you, this stuff makes sense, but you’re not quite sure what to do with it or what it has to do with you and your business or career. That’s OK, there is rhyme and reason to what I’m doing here.

Basically, I’m throwing out some dots, and at the same time, I’m connecting some of the dots to other dots that I threw out previously. That’s what I’m going to continue to do

I used the puzzle metaphor earlier, but I suppose one of the other ways you could look at it is that I’m giving you the individual pieces of a puzzle along with clues as to how they go together. Over time, significant pieces of the bigger puzzle picture will begin to take shape and you’ll see them. And at some point further down the road, the full picture will be apparent. But I can assure you of this – for each one of you, that picture will be different.

That’s because, I’m not giving you the picture. I’m giving you tools to create the pieces of your own puzzle picture if you choose to see it.

In the short run, the dots of information I’m passing along to you can be used in many cases by themselves. The old saying, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” definitely applies here, but that does not mean that the parts themselves have no value. They do.

Destination: Next Level Part 4 >>

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