Your imagination is a powerful tool that you should leverage in mapping out your future. There are three ways you can use this powerful tool to help you develop a career of continuous improvement. They are:
- Consciously shaping your daily activities to move you closer toward your goals.
- Making changes in your environment that will influence you on a conscious and unconscious level to focus on your goals
- Behaving as if you have already achieved your goals
We can use our unconscious mind to help us influence our thinking in order to achieve our goals. This is an incredibly powerful process that all the successful individuals I have talked to have mastered in some way. Many of these people were unaware that they had actually “programmed” themselves for success, but in reality they had already shaped their destiny deep within their unconscious minds.
In 1996 I met the general manager of a small hotel in Westchester County, New York named Don. He was one of the top general managers in his company. His financial results were second to none and his customers and employees all liked and respected him. His personal appearance was clean-cut and low key. He had a great sense of humor and made people feel at ease. Don was a likable and generous person who was always willing to share advice with his peers. In fact, Don would go out of his way to help other hotel managers in his company who were struggling. He would often spend his own time working with the general manager of a sister hotel (one that is part of the same company) to improve his / her property. Don did all of this work through his own initiative and most of the time, without the knowledge of his boss. Don was also outstanding at developing his own people. When he would leave his hotel for weeks at a time to work with other managers, his property would not miss a beat. His assistant general manager was well trained and was one of the most competent people in her field. She was often recognized as a great leader in her own right.
In 1998 Don was promoted to a regional manager position. I remember meeting up with him at a conference and I asked him how his job had changed. He spent his time describing some of the new branding initiatives he was developing for the company. He talked about how he had volunteered to work on some franchisee related projects and on the owner services team at corporate. He also told me how proud he was that he had trained the general managers in his region (now his subordinates) to help one another solve problems. He said that property inspections were more like visits with friends because things were running so smoothly.
Don’s story is a clear example of “Acting as if…”. In his role as a general manager, Don was already acting as if he was a regional manager. When the time came to promote someone, Don’s superiors and his peers not only recognized his ability, they naturally gravitated toward him as the perfect choice. In his role as the regional manager, Don was already volunteering for responsibilities that would help him prepare for a role at the corporate office – the next step in his career progression.
One key aspect that cannot be lost in this process is Don’s focus on developing people. He learned early on that to “act as if…” he would need to make certain he had people on board that would act as if they were in his role. Don had already assumed the mindset he would need in his future role. He already saw himself in that position and developing the people under him was critical to his success. Don projected this image to others and they clearly saw him as a natural fit for more senior positions.