Want to grow your practice, make more money, learn a new skill, or improve your business?
In order to get to the next level, whether it's in your career, business, or life, you need to think, act, communicate, network, plan, lead, and delegate like the next level. (And you have to stop all those things with the low-level context in which you no longer want to be.)
I don't mean “fake it 'til you make it.” This is self-deception. And yes, it's fake.
I'm talking about taking a few steps back and observing your actions, your thoughts, and your words, and fix those little things that are holding you back.
If you reach the “next level” but with “low level” thoughts, habits, activities, relationships, whatever, you haven't reached the next level at all. In fact, you might create more stress, errors, and setbacks along the way.
I'm a competitive powerlifter. When I prepare for a meet, I record myself to see if I'm using proper form required to win good judging scores. You either get a white light (your form was correct) or a red one.
When I squat, for example, I might lift with what feels like perfect form. But I can still get red lights if my thighs are not parallel to the floor or lower than my knees (aka, “ass to grass”).
So I practice to achieve perfect form first. Once I have perfect form, only then I can add weight to the bar and grow over time.
Similarly, you need to fix any issues first before you start growing. To do this, you need to take a step back and observe yourself to see the issues that are limiting you, holding you back, or causing you friction along the way.
This applies not just in how you work or act, but also in how you think.
In managing my mental health, for example, I use a technique called cognitive behavioural therapy. It's a process of first detaching yourself from your emotional and behavioural patterns so you can then correct them.
By practicing self-observation and self-correction, CBT helped me deal with my anxiety issues, which I realized was largely caused by self-defeating self-talk. I was able to replace unhealthy patterns of thinking, response, and action with desirable ones.
To do that, I needed, first and foremost, to be able to “remove myself” from those patterns. It's not easy to do, especially when you're right in the thick of the moment dealing with a stressful or negative situation. It takes work and practice.
But when I was able to take a step back, and look at my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, I was able to identify issues and fix them, which helped me to move forward and grow.
People say, “You must feel pain in order to grow” or “you must fail in order to succeed.” I'm not discounting this. But the issue is, you don't know what needs to be fixed that caused you the pain or failure in the first place.
If you're an experienced and successful professional, you do this already. You try something and fail. You learn from your mistakes. You either fix it or find something else. Why would it be any different when it comes to personal growth?
Growth is deeply personal and individual. And it should be.
In powerlifting, the goal is to constantly reach the next level by beating your previous lifting scores. We use terms like “PB” (personal best) and “PR” (personal record). Because the only competitor is yourself — you last week, you last month, you last year.
It's the same thing in career, business, and personal and professional development. It's not about imitating others or faking it. It's about taking a step back and looking at how you act, communicate, work, lead, and above all, think.
It takes a great deal of self-awareness to truly understand this.
So take a step back and ask yourself: “Would someone at the next level talk like that? Think like that? Act like that? Run their business like that? Market themselves like that?”
Remove yourself before you move yourself.