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Think strategically to achieve greatness

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Hunt for Greatness by Milton Kamwendo

You either think strategically or behave hysterically. Nothing is beyond the power of powerful and structured thinking.

The way you think determines the fluency of your action and the results you get. Strategic thinking is a choice, a discipline and a learned behaviour.

It is not just about compiling long documents that no one wants to read. In a dynamic environment, where change is happening fast and there are many disruptive forces, strategic thinking is a necessary success behaviour. To adapt you have think responsively.

To change you have to think creatively. To lead you have to think responsibly. To leap into the future, you have to be strategic, unless you are happy dealing with consequences of stumbling blindly into the future.

The future is so delicate that it has to be nursed with strategic mind, visionary hands and feet that execute.

To change your life, you have to start by changing your thinking, challenging mental models and opening your mind. To change outcomes, address the root causes.

Dwelling on symptoms and just reacting emotionally is not strategic thinking. As you think, so you create and react.

Turbulence is the new norm and change is the new song in this decade of action. The past is real but it is not coming back and the earlier one shifts thinking the better.

It is not what you are going through that matters, but how you frame the contexts and process experiences.

Do not make your situation worse by terrifying yourself and thinking that yours is the worst. Thinking like a victim does not give you any strategic advantage.

How you read your realities, decode the signals and think about any situation is important feedstock for strategic thinking.

You have to look beyond the symptoms and surface appearance. In your mind see beyond mirrors and mirages, positions and placards.

In thinking strategically, you need to distinguish the real issues and the straw-man’s tissues. A straw man is any issue that is set up to look like the issue when it is in fact not the real issue.

Critical thinking starts you thinking about the issue, behind the issue that is the real issue.

Good strategic thinking involves digging around and addressing the root causes and understanding the drivers of opportunity. There is no environment that ever lacks a season of opportunity.

Thinking strategically means that you are able to release yourself from the pressure of mindless reacting and senseless unprocessed commentary.

Go beyond the popular pressure of quick-fix bandages and understand the real issues in order to create lasting solutions.

Deep thinking is a challenge and few people engage in it. Move beyond pressure-releasing activities and pursue destiny-shaping solutions.

Strategic thinking is a challenging but necessary call. Escape the trap of “short-termism”.

Bandaging a problem never makes it go away. It is not just the immediate term, or immediate benefits that matter.

In thinking strategically combine intuition with data. Intuition alone is not sufficient and data alone is not adequate.

Strategic thinking involves making a good use of both the data and intuition to develop creative pathways.

Data speaks if you are willing to look at it in the face. Ignoring clear signals that the data shows does not make reality go away. All it does is prolong the pain and remain in denial.

Strategic thinking makes good use of the Stockdale Paradox that states that you have to be willing to face the brutal realities and facts, and yet not lose the hope that one day you will prevail.

Glance at the data and the talking signals but do not lose faith or vision.

Great strategic thinking looks at the reality without vanish, data without defence; and then with faith evolves a creative path towards greatness.

Acknowledge current reality, then work to create new realities. This is not an easier call that is why working with a competent facilitator is helpful.

The challenge of all leadership is thinking strategically and now wishfully. James Kouzes and his partner Barry Posner in their legendary 2002 book, “The Leadership Challenge”, state that effective leaders engage in five important exemplary practices.

They model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart.

All these elements are critical elements of strategic thinking. In their book they underline that leadership is not merely a position and everyone is called to lead in their sphere of influence.

When leaders think strategically they model clear and great thinking, embrace a possibility mindset and engage in inspiring behaviour.

Strategic thinking involves articulating an invigorating portrait of the future and mobilising active support of others towards worthy ideals.

Business as usual is not strategic thinking but merely reflex conversation. Without a clear mind, and bold vision, strategic thinking would be alien.

Thinking strategically means investing time in studying the future, testing assumptions and making sense of the context.

The ways of the past are addictive and thinking strategically means waging war with the gravitational pull of the mundane and the past.

The greatest possibilities of impact are in the future because the past is gone and the present is slipping away.

Strategic thinking sees the future and maps paths towards it.

Thinking strategically means challenging the process and raising questions that unmask the dominant logic.

Strategic thinking means willing to increase awareness, being hypersensitive to change and having the stamina to make calls of change as needed.

Strategic thinking is not an exact science but a learning navigation.

Once the strategic direction is set, leaders encourage the heart. It not the past that matters but the journey you take to create the preferred future.

That journey involves many trials, experiments and permutations along the way. Thinking strategically means searching for opportunity, exploring ways to grow, change and improve.

Because the future does not always look like the past it means being willing to experiment, learn and go in new directions while growing new capabilities.

Strategic thinking involves being comfortable with radical change, living with the pain of not knowing everything and the challenge of being a faithful questioner and agile learner.

Life is by nature a seed-bed of choices. You may not be able to choose everything that happens to you, but you do choose how you respond to whatever happens to you.

At the core of strategic thinking is building awareness and purposeful use of the power of choice.

Strategic thinking is about making thought out choices. These are choices about focus. Choices about where to play and how to play. Choices about capabilities and processes.

It is not enough to just go with the flow and abandon yourself to fate. Strategy is about making choices regarding the direction to take.

It is better to choose a direction and be wrong, than to fear choosing and remain in learning-less limbo.

Strategic thinking is a lifelong quest and learning it is a lifelong art. Miss Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was a strategic thinker and writer.

She thought and wrote precious poetry and verse that she bequeathed to us.

Her work only came to light after her death and yet continues to inspire and testify of the legendary quality of her spirit.

One of her poems that urges strategic thinking is entitled: “The brain”. May it inspire you to think strategically:

“THE BRAIN

The brain is wider than the sky,

For, put them side by side,

The one the other will include

With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,

For, hold them, blue to blue,

The one the other will absorb,

As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,

For, lift them, pound for pound,

And they will differ, if they do,

As syllable from sound.”

Committed to your greatness.

Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author, and growth mentor.

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31