Have you ever had a moment when you wished for a second chance at a decision, when you clearly recognized that you had acted irrationally? Virtually everyone has had 20/20 hindsight at some point in their lives and has longed for the opportunity to revisit a critical decision. The failure to think strategically – to see a clear path through the mental haze that surrounds a decision – when faced with a career-related or life-changing choice can mean the difference between rousing success and dismal failure. If you aspire to greatness, the process of strategic thinking must become second nature to you. By examining the implications of your choices and analyzing the options available to you before you make decisions, you will develop a competitive advantage in business and in life.
In its highest form, strategic thinking is a distinct perspective that helps you break down complicated processes into easily manageable pieces that can be arranged to present a clear set of alternatives. Some people are blessed with a unique perspective that allows them to mentally break down complex issues and picture alternatives with ease. Others must learn this type of behavior. The process of learning to think strategically is similar to learning a foreign language. As an American born and raised in New York, I learned to speak Spanish in my late twenties. As I practiced speaking Spanish, I became better and better at thinking and responding in a language that was not native to me. Today, I have internalized the language to the point where my response time in Spanish is equal to my response time in English; however speaking Spanish requires significantly more effort than speaking my native language. Those who are natural strategic thinkers can intuitively develop alternatives to complex issues once they review the existing evidence or data. People who learn strategic thinking can also achieve the same result – it just might take more time and effort.
A super-achiever brings intensity to his thinking process. He is intellectually curious and aggressive. In his individual cycle of continuous improvement he thinks like a well run company – strategically.
Next week we are going to take a look at the five factors that influence strategic thinking.
We’ll cover one factor each day Monday through Friday. I will also archive the posts in the Individual Performance section of the blog so that you can share them with others.