Stepping up to the next level

Just doing a good job isn’t good enough any more. If you want to make a difference now, you have to be brilliant at what you do, says Rod Petrie

How many people have you met who talk a good talk about wanting to change and step up to the next level, but do nothing about it?

Like you, I have met quite a few and what surprises me is that they don’t even practice change.

Words are all well and good, but it all comes down to action if you want to get results and make things happen.

I really believe that, no matter what the prevailing economic climate, successful people and businesses make things happen by actually getting out there and doing it, by setting their sights higher than the norm and breaking out of their limiting belief systems and all the other stuff that holds them back.

All of us have belief systems, and I know that I can easily find the evidence to back up my own, whether it is empowering or debilitating.

The fact is that those people and businesses that have reached the higher level, the top level, have an empowering belief system, and they all challenge the conventional wisdom about how to do things. They take dynamic steps, and they make massive decisions. They are action-oriented.

Apple, Microsoft, Sir James Dyson and Sir Richard Branson are among the modern-day examples of companies and people that have stepped up to that top level.
They share some common traits and characteristics, and they know that the days of just ‘doing a good job’ have gone. Even doing a great job doesn’t really cut it any more. It’s about stepping up to the next level and doing an amazing and brilliant job.

Good is all right, but it is the lowest entry level these days, whether you are booking a holiday, booking into a hotel or buying a new iBook.

We all know the difference between ‘He is a brilliant boss and they are brilliant clients’ and ‘He is a good boss and they are good clients’.

The former sends out a completely different emotional message, to the extent that you would do anything to work with these guys.

By setting your sights too low – on ‘good’ – remember that you might miss the mark, and what you get is just OK.

If you are happy with OK, then that’s fine, but you just might go out of business or disappear off the radar.

Look at the words OK, good, great, amazing, fantastic and brilliant and give some thought to the level you are on now and what it says about you and the consultancy you work for.

If you want to hit the moon you have to aim for the stars and, in the words of the former US president John F Kennedy in the 1960s, ‘We choose to go to the moon in this decade and to do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’

That is it in a nutshell. You have to try to picture the future you really want, and then you start to plan how you are going to achieve it.

In my experience, people usually forget about all the hard work, commitment and deliberate practice involved in stepping up from one level to the next.

The question is of ‘stickability’. Can you last the course and handle the blistering pace that people often underestimate? You also have to be creative and inventive along the way to overcome the new barriers that can suddenly appear from nowhere.

In my opinion, you will need a number of key attributes in your toolbox before you even attempt to step up to the next level.
You will need a positive mental attitude to make things happen.

You will need to drop your self-limiting beliefs and start to think differently.

If you think differently about your stress levels and turn them into positive energy, you will be able to make those big, decisive decisions that can propel you forward.

If you want to do a brilliant job you are going to have to embrace change, be courageous and get rid of all the stuff that is holding you back.

But people who reach the top level have one other key attribute that makes them the best in their class – they know they have to practice, over and over, until it all works.

So what’s holding you back from stepping up?

Making it happen:

  • If you love it, it will happen
  • Confidence is all – build on it, don’t fake it
  • Understand the extent to which your beliefs influence your behaviour
  • Having a ‘can do’ attitude makes all the difference
  • No matter how unlikely, you have to believe you will succeed
  • Practice the same activity at least 20 times to make it stick
  • Take one step at a time, but try making each one a giant step
  • Aim high and you will hit it
  • Don’t procrastinate – do it
  • It is never too late to achieve brilliant results

Rod Petrie is an independent coach and a member of the Design Business Association Experts Register

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