This article was originally posted on Virgin.com
Words are easy. Action requires commitment.
There are many amateurs talking about all the things they want to do or should do. They use sexy phrases such as positive thinking, redefining their potential, and the law of attraction. But these phrases become meaningless if you do not back up your thoughts and words with action.
All of these ideas can be very powerful if you put them into practice like a professional. Otherwise, it’s similar to having a gorgeous new pair of shoes but never taking them out of the box – what good are they?
Professionals understand how to close the gap between saying what you are going to do and making it happen. And most importantly, professionals understand that phrases like “living in your top 1%” or “raising your game” are about making progress rather than being perfect.
THREE RITUALS TO BEING A PROFESSIONAL:
1. EMBRACE A CAN-DO MINDSET
A mindset is a set of beliefs that defines who you are and what you can do. This set of beliefs defines what is possible or impossible.
According to the National Science Foundation, our brains can produce as many as 50,000 thoughts per day. Ninety-five percent of these thoughts are repeated daily. So you decide what becomes a can or can’t. The following chain reaction illustrates the effect that your thoughts can have on your life:
Thoughts -> Beliefs -> Belief System -> Mindset -> Actions -> Results
Assess the words you use on a daily basis and determine if they align with the results you want as the CEO of your life, then put your words into action.
2. MASTER OBSTACLES
Professionals realize that obstacles and progress go together. Whichever road you choose to live in your top 1%, it is important to know that obstacles will show up. All people and great companies have encountered challenges on their path to creating something special.
For example, Thomas Edison tried over two thousand experiments before he invented the light bulb. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, was told he couldn’t build a company based on customer service and online shoe sales. He did just that with Zappos and sold the company to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009.
Professionals use three categories to classify their obstacles:
• Speed Bumps: These are obstacles that slow you down, but ultimately you can get around them and stay on track with a clear and focused mind (e.g. being stuck in traffic or losing your phone).
• Detours: These obstacles often force you to be crafty and devise a Plan B or alternate solution. You still arrive at your destination, but it will take commitment and extra effort to prevail (e.g. a restaurant not having your dinner reservation on a packed night or not getting hired by the firm of your choice).
• Roadblocks: These obstacles can derail you unless you are focused, determined, and committed to your goal and making progress (e.g. losing a loved one or getting fired).
As you create your roadmap, consider what road sign best describes how you want to view obstacles. If you hit an unexpected detour you will not want to see a sign that says ‘Dead End’. A better sign would be ‘Plan B straight ahead’.
Visualize what your sign looks like and what the words say to keep you on the right path. Remember, you define how you view your obstacles, they do not define you.
3. LIVE IN YOUR STRETCH ZONE
Each day is an opportunity to redefine what is possible if you put your words into action. When you move outside your comfort zone you have the potential to produce extraordinary results that you may not have experienced otherwise.
Recently, I worked with a 45-year-old female client who sold financial products and was at a crossroads and fearful to move outside her comfort zone. A headhunter contacted her for a management position at another top tier finance firm and she declined at first because she was fearful to risk what she had (a good job, good clients, and financial stability) to pursue something new.
We discussed the pros and cons of the new opportunity as well as her goals and values. She decided to interview for the job and three weeks later was ready to move outside her comfort zone and into a management position. She is now one of the most senior women on Wall Street.
There are three zones of actions:
• Comfort Zone: The comfort zone holds your existing habits.
• Stretch Zone: The stretch zone is about learning and growth.
• Stress/Danger Zone: The stress/danger zone leaves you feeling overwhelmed too much of the time.
The ideal zone to function in is your stretch zone. This is the zone where you are taking on new challenges, adapting, and building confidence. The challenge is to maintain living in your stretch zone without tipping over into the stress/danger zone. This happens as you become more aware and practice being in that uncomfortable place. Professionals move outside their comfort zone repeatedly to embrace action and their results prove it. It’s never easy but neither is being a professional.
TOP 1% BOTTOM LINE:
Both professionals and amateurs make choices everyday as to how they will live their life. The amateurs ‘try’ to do things and the professionals get it done. The amateurs say it’s ‘impossible’ while the professionals show what is possible. The amateurs have great ideas and the professionals take their great ideas and put them into action.
The differences are sometimes small but the results are huge. Professionals enjoy success by putting their ideas into action and pursuing goals that are meaningful.
Alissa Finerman is an Executive Coach and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, speaker and author of Living in YOUR Top 1%. She works with managers, C-suite executives and teams to leverage strengths, shift beliefs and achieve meaningful goals. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked with Ross Stores, Petco, BNP Paribas, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Brookfield Property Partners, Neutrogena, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Dress for Success. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook