When you’re successful, you don’t have fewer challenges, you have higher level challenges: Quality Problems.
Quality Problems are the kind that, if you try to tell most people about them, they would reply, “I wish I had your problems…”
(Related: Procrastination Isn’t the Real Problem)
Examples might be: The Olympic athlete who wants to go from silver to gold; the performer who has the opportunity to go on stage in front of a crowd of thousands and is nervous; or the advisor who wants to take her business from seven-figures to eight figures in gross revenue.
To prepare for these kinds of high-level challenges, you need to train your mind to be ready for obstacles before they occur.
Your ability to anticipate what could go wrong and handle it before it occurs is a high-level leadership skill that will differentiate you from the competition.
Try “Inversion Thinking”
Centuries ago, stoic philosophers developed a powerful tool, inversion thinking or negative visualization. Its goal was to have you imagine ahead of time all of the negative things that could happen in life. Imagining these worst-case scenarios would help to overcome fears and make better plans to prevent the disasters.
Many of the most successful entrepreneurs today are not the risk-takers we imagine. They are actually experts at mitigating risks. Reflecting on how you will manage or prevent a particular failure is an important mindset. Imagining what things would look like if everything went wrong tomorrow helps you prepare to prevent or mitigate it today.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” — Mike Tyson
Great thinkers, leaders, and innovators aren’t afraid to turn their thinking on its head. They simply keep asking, “What if […] goes the other way?” If you use this tool, you’ll identify challenges and points of possible failure so you can develop a plan to prevent or mitigate them ahead of time.
Here are some Inversion Thinking questions:
1. Imagine your entire business has failed.
Every client has gone. What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How did you make it fail?
2. What if everything goes better than you could imagine?
You have more clients than you dreamed you would, more assets under management than you ever thought you would and you’re generating more revenue than you could have imagined. But they keep coming and you have no more capacity to service them. You’re getting NIGOs and application rejections by the bushel. What went wrong? How could you have been better prepared?
3. Imagine the most important goal or project you are working on right now has completely failed.
What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How did it fail?
4. Your entire team quits on you.
What was wrong with your leadership? How did you fail them? Where did you fail to innovate? Where did you fail to be prepared for massive change in your field?
5. What could alienate your dream clients?
How could you scare away the community you’ve built? What would cause you to go back to the days where you were constantly struggling to bring in new business?
6. What could completely distract you every day?
How could you create and encourage constant interruptions that would lead to your failure? How could you constantly put urgent tasks ahead of important ones? How could you let email and social media run your day?
Pick any one of these scenarios, grab a journal, and create business nightmares. Then, create a plan that will prevent them. In the midst of preparing for disaster are the seeds of an idea for your next level of success.
Sandy Schussel has been a coach and practice development consultant for insurance and financial professionals for the past 20 years. He is an approved MDRT coach and has served as the national sales training director for First Investors and Foresters. He is the author of two books, The High Diving Board, about overcoming fear and Become A Client Magnet, about attracting and keeping clients. Schussel‘s scheduling calendar is available.