In order to take our lives to the next level, we must realize that the same pattern of thinking that has gotten us to where we are now will not get us where we want to go!

                                                                   – Tony Robbins

Last week I had a mid-year review with my trainer.  We reviewed the goals that were established in January, crunched the necessary numbers, and reflected on what had gone well and what still needed to be improved.  During the meeting she asked, “So what is it that you are looking for over the next six months?” I responded, “I want to take things to the next level!”. She smiled and said, “Then let’s do it!”  That discussion served as the basis for creating a new vision, identifying new goals, and the development of an action plan to be pursued over the next six months.  The workout that followed was my initiation to a higher level of performance.  It was one of the most intense that I could remember and was peppered with the phase, “Work!  We’re taking things to the next level!”

If you think about it, life is really all about continually taking things to the next level, be it personal, professional, or spiritual.  The reality is we are programed for continuous improvement (some more so than others).  We often hear that we live in a culture that embraces change.  That change is a result of individuals and organizations continually seeking to take things to the next level; to be better versions of themselves.  The question then becomes, what enables or facilitates our efforts?  I believe the answer lies in three components; A Mindset Shift, Action Plan Development, and Coaching.

Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, and considered by many to be the pioneer researcher in the field of Growth Mindset.  Her research reveals that those with a growth mindset believe that skill and intelligence can be developed.  To take things to the next level your mindset shift needs to include:

  • Moving Past Your Fears – Fear of the unknown is perhaps the greatest obstacle we face.  Fear limits us.  It holds us in one place.  It prevents us from growing.  Fear becomes the obstacle that prevents us from achieving and pursuing our dreams.  The danger is fear becomes the factor that results in our avoidance of seeking new and exciting experiences.  We begin to give up on our dreams, accepts things as they are and avoid the challenge to achieve excellence.  We accept life as it is; what some might call an early death.

  • Taking Risks and Embracing Failure – For many who have been successful, the lesson learned is this, “I know the recipe for success, why change?”  They become comfortable with the status quo, failing to recognize the change occurring around them.  They no longer see a need or have the desire to improve.  They will be left in your wake.  By challenging yourself, by stretching past your comfort zone, by working without that safety net you grow and become better.  Failure is something to be embraced.  As Teddy Roosevelt told us is his Speech at the Sorbonne, “….. if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

  • Move Beyond the Opinions of Others – We should always be open to the ideas and opinions of others, but when those thoughts and ideas serve to compromise our growth they need to be ignored.  By focusing on what others think, by pursuing the goals they establish for us instead of our own, we become a prisoner of their opinion. Never ever let the opinions or thoughts of others limit your growth or interfere with the pursuit of your dreams.

“Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” (Joel Barker).  Think about that last sentence, “Vision with action can change the world.”  If that’s not taking it to the next level, I don’t know what is.  Your vision for taking it to the next level, whether it be personal or professional, whether it be for your small non-profit or your business must have an action plan.   A few weeks ago I shared a newsletter that considered this topic (So What’s Your Plan).  By investing the time to develop a plan that defines our goals, actions to be taken, milestones, and methods of measuring progress, we enable our vision.   An added benefit is that creating that plan to take you to the next level will serve to help you live a longer, more fulfilling life (The Longevity Project) What more reason do you need to start your plan today?

Think back!  Can you recall a great coach from your youth who helped you get to the next level?   Maybe it was a dedicated parent, an athletic coach, the director of a school play, or a music teacher.  Do you remember that mentor who first worked with you on the job?  They guided you and checked-in as you found yourself immersed in a new environment that was filled with performance expectations.  If you think about it, while some had the technical expertise, those coaches/mentors we really remember are the ones who were able to help us find that “something” within. Their guidance and coaching let us discover that which enabled us to take it to the next level.  So who’s coaching you now as you work to take it to the next level?  All great performers have a coach!

One of my mother’s favorite sayings was taken from a 17th century Scottish proverb and nursery rhyme, “If wishes were horses then beggars would ride!”  There is no easy way to take it to the next level. There’s no magic pill and wishing things will get better will simply leave you frustrated. It is a personal commitment you must make that includes shifting your mindset, developing a plan, and working with a coach or mentor. Tomorrow is a new day, why not let it be the one that begins your quest to take it to the next level.