Ahead of the Curve to be on Top
I once heard a statement that no matter how good you think you are, there is always someone else who is better. This appears to be a pessimistic view even to a point of degrading one's self-worth. However, this saying provides a starting point to understanding one's gifts or setbacks, one's strengths or weaknesses in comparison to potential counterparts.
Do you remember in your school band when you were the third chair among all the clarinet players? Do you recall your high school student council campaign? Who was voted in as the president and who were the runner-ups that year? Who was the starting quarterback and who was the 2nd string quarterback for the college football team? Who won the role of Juliet and who was her understudy for the community play?
While being first or second was prevalent in school, it is inevitable in a work force setting and even in everyday occurrences. You might have been a candidate for a lucrative job offer, but was disappointed because the job went to someone else. You might have rushed to a music store to buy an artist's greatest hits collection only to find out that someone else bought the last CD five minutes before you came in.
Being first or second may be inescapable, but you can take your placement in life's occurrences as a positive factor to help move you towards the top. Think about these motivating characteristics that can help move leaders ahead of the curve.
Innovation: Many people associate the term innovative with the act of invention, but we think of innovation as looking at opportunities in a new way or "thinking out of the box." The fast food industry provides us with an example of one such man. No one will argue that McDonalds' Ray Croc was "ahead of the curve" in this industry. McDonalds was not the first hamburger chain in America; other chains can claim that fame. Finding a way to turn burgers and fires into a mass market enterprise set McDonalds "ahead" and apart from the other chains in the 1950's and 1960's. However, Ray Kroc's innovative foresight was to standardize menus and restaurants and to make the meals affordable that led to the popularity of McDonalds's today.
Looking around corners: One of the most celebrated basketball players of all-time was cut from the varsity basketball team when he was just a sophomore. In his book, Can't Accept Not Trying, Michael Jordan, recounts instead of giving up basketball he set achievable goals, working on one after another until he dominated the game. He strategically focused on and worked towards being "ahead of the curve" to become one of the best basketball players of all time.
Plan ahead: When Thomas Edison set about reinventing the incandescent electric light bulb, he proposed to connect his lights in a parallel circuit so that the failure of one light bulb would not cause the whole circuit to fail. Eminent scientists predict that such a circuit would never be feasible. And while at times it seemed that the bulb might never materialize, Edison continued his work on his reverse action generator and the development of electrical wires, still in use today. His planning, work and tenacity placed the first permanent, working commercial central power system in lower Manhattan in September 1882. His sight was always "ahead of the curve" and on the central power system that would light the world.
These are just three of the strategic processes described in Dr. Steven J. Stowell and Stephanie Mead's new book Ahead of the Curve, A Guide to Applied Strategic Thinking and their workshop, Applied Strategic Thinking. The workshop is a practical look at what it means to be strategic and demonstrates a hands-on process in developing workable strategic plans that will take companies into the future. For more information regarding the workshop, please call (801) 569-3444.
Stephanie Tuia and the CMOE Development team have collaborated in content writing for CMOE.
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