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5 Tactics to Stay Sharp in a Constantly Changing Environment

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I recently watched a compilation of SpaceX fails, and instantly came to the conclusion that the audacity of private space travel is both compelling and unsettling. I was a kid when the Challenger space shuttle exploded with a civilian on board and like most people at the time, I assumed space travel should be reserved for the government establishment.

Elon Musk, however, views the topic quite differently. Like other forward-thinkers, he adapts to a constantly changing landscape of political, financial, and technical dynamics that would overwhelm the vast majority of humanity. That same ability to adapt and remain sharp resides in you. You may not realize it, but by applying a few tactics, you can remain sharp in your arena of influence, no matter how much it shifts and changes.

Here are 5 tactics to make sure you stay sharp no matter what:

1. Fail Frequently

Every true expert in any field will tell you that failure is a major component to success. Thomas Edison took the sentiment a step further and said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” To stay sharp in a shifting environment, you must learn to fail frequently. In doing so, you maintain pace with changes in your environment and adjust your methods, thinking, and implementations to accommodate unpredictability, rather than avoid it. If you’re not willing to fail, you are incapable of success.

2. Embrace the Suck

I have a good friend who is an ultramarathon runner, and noticed she was wearing a hat that said, “Embrace The Suck.” Since I’m a former cross-country runner, I instantly understood the reference: “it’s gonna hurt, but go after it anyway.” How many of us embrace the lack of stability that comes with changing environments? Sadly, most of us do not. We complain, we blame, and we excuse the fact that we never stabilize.

What if we instead embraced the changes? What if we learned to accept the fact that business (and life) is always changing, and it’s a false reality to believe that anything is truly static? When we embrace the suck, we change our psychology. We come to grips with fluctuating terrain as a requisite component of growth. And when that happens, we are able to gain stability in the most uncertain environments. Sailors call it getting your sea legs.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford

3. Read a Lot

People like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Cuban, as well as most CEOs, read about 50 books per year. In fact, when asked about how he learned to make rockets, Elon Musk claimed he learned from “reading books.” Innovation is always predicated on existing knowledge, and existing knowledge is most often solidified in books. If you want to learn to adapt to shifting environments, you must build a foundation of knowledge that comes from spending a lot of time reading.

Study after study affirms this point. Reading can be accomplished in many ways, and part of remaining sharp requires you to diversify your input. I read about 30 books last year, but I also read several hundred articles, studies, and blog posts. Books tend to provide structural or foundational information, while articles, studies, and blog posts tend to apply knowledge. You need both to succeed in uncertainty.

4. Practice the Uncertain

I remember my first few years practicing law and I often envied attorneys who did personal injury work. In my view, they learned one area of law really well, performed the same tasks every day, the same way, for the same reason, hoping for the same outcome. Then there was me, being asked to advise or draft contracts for situations that had no framework or precedent.

Most of the time, it felt like being dropped out of an airplane into the jungle each morning, having no idea who I would encounter, what they would need, or why they needed it. I learned to adapt by doing the work, which became my practice. There’s an interesting thing that happens when you face uncertainty on a consistent basis: you become comfortable with it.

To this day, I may not know what type of client will walk in my door, or what they will need from me, but I can guarantee that I have practiced enough to have my own framework of reference for how to help a person move forward in whatever circumstances they face. I do this daily in my legal and consulting practices, but you can do this wherever you’re situated.

“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” – Peter McWilliams

5. Visualize the Process

There are times when no panorama exists for what you are facing, and no amount of failing, reading, or embracing will prepare you for the uncertainty you need to conquer. In situations like that, visualization can be the key to progress. Visualization, however, can feel awkward and it’s important to visualize the process before the outcome.

Start where you first encounter the problem and how you might interact with it. Look around (within your visualization) and notice if there are people or other assets available to impact the situation. Visualize yourself dealing with the situation one way and then another. Try many approaches and see if any of them work within your visualization.

The goal here is for your brain to start developing mental pathways towards success, and by visualizing your encounters with uncertainty, your brain collects hypothetical experience. I’ve used this tool with my consulting clients many times to help them process through shifting circumstances.

As an entrepreneur, business owner, CEO, or other leader, you possess the ability to adapt. It may not always feel like it, but it’s innate and simply needs to be activated. When you find yourself troubled by shifting circumstances, take a deep breath and look forward, knowing you now have some tools to navigate.

How to you navigate through uncertainty? Let us know by commenting below!

Brock Shinen has been guiding entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, and creators for more than 13 years as an attorney, trainer, and strategic advisor. His passion is to see people and businesses transform by implementing smart, adaptable thinking leading towards economic and personal success. He is also the author of the Amazon #1 Bestseller, “Crush The Stops: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Finishing Things.” You can also visit his website.

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Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.” (more…)

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6 Unusual Exercises to Effectively Increase Your Creativity Faster Than Ever

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Although a vast majority of people think that creativity is something you are born with, the truth is a bit different. While we cannot deny that you need natural talent to a certain extent, stimulating creative thinking is indeed a matter of practice. If you give this thought a bit of thinking, you can realize pretty quickly that even the most fascinating and creative minds have faced the lack of creativity at some point in their lives. (more…)

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Life

3 Psychological Facts That Can Unleash Your Inner Power

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Some people will achieve great things. Others won’t. But why is that? We’re all just “talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe,” as Joe Rogan puts it. So why do some “talking monkeys” build 7 or 8 figure businesses, travel the world, and live the life of their dreams while the rest of us… well, wish we were living the life of our dreams. (more…)

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