Sourcing Breakthrough Results – Crisis or Inspiration?
In my twenty years of experience studying what has people produce breakthrough results, I have found there are actually two sources of breakthrough. One is in response to a crisis, and the other comes from inspiration. Either source is a pathway that leads to breakthrough results.
In this context, breakthrough results are defined as outside the norm, unpredictable, and extraordinary given the current situation or circumstance.
By crisis, I mean a situation where your back is up against the wall, and your survival is being threatened, either professionally or personally. Something you want is at risk of either not happening or failing. Your limbic system kicks in with an immediate response of fight, flight or freeze. The options are either to think in a new way or go out of business. This is an opportunity to “take a stand” (more about that later).
In the case of inspiration, things are working okay and results are getting produced, but there is an internal yearning that something else is possible. Sometimes, this is driven by noticing what others in the marketplace are doing, and it awakens the thought, ‘I want that too!’ Or it can be a thought that comes to you randomly, in the shower or while driving. It usually sounds like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…’ This is the source of many innovations.
The breakthrough process
Once you have identified a breakthrough or new level of result that you are committed to, the next steps are as follows.
Step 1: Taking a stand/making a commitment
I define stand as when you powerfully say to yourself, ‘It’s not going to go that way…. It’s going to go this other way… Because I say so!’ The truth is, we have all produced breakthrough results multiple times in our lives and had things turn out. However, most of us don’t realize how we did it. Stand is not only the genesis of breakthrough, once mastered, it is repeatable skill set that you can access on demand.
In taking a stand, you make a commitment, draw a line in the sand that means, “I’m going to make this happen!” You don’t have to have the ability, the time, or the money to do it. It merely takes a declaration that you make to yourself, and your brain will start to figure out how to get it done.
When we look at breakthroughs we have made happen before—getting a degree, starting a business, learning a new skill, or even overcoming a health challenge—they all began with making a commitment (or declaration) and fortifying our actions aligned with that commitment over time. This usually looks like a lot of trial and error, but it is all part of the breakthrough process.
Step 2. Creating a team
The next step is to create a team. Here’s how to get started:
- Find a buddy
Typically, when we are taking a stand or thinking about taking a stand, we will share with someone we are close with, asking What do you think about this idea? I was thinking we should do “x.” This is usually someone we are close with and trust that they will not be judgmental about how to get it done right away. We call this person, the “first follower.” It’s best to have someone who is easy to get on board and who will flesh the idea out with you. It’s a critical first step to any breakthrough.
- Form a team
As you begin to take action and have small wins, forming a supportive team of people enrolled in the possibility and vision is essential to help you further execute on your goal. Having other people own and take a stand for the outcome not only increases your probability of success, but it also brings fun and ease to the process. You don’t have to know everyone’s response in advance. When you share the vision, people will opt in and opt out of the team by the actions they take.
- Other options
Creating your own team may not always be an option. Depending on what the goal is, you can find an existing structure or team to plug into. If it’s a personal development goal, you can create team by signing up for a program, class or certification. Within a corporate environment, you may have more success getting buy-in from a boss to conduct a pilot. Using the language of “pilot” allows you to test a concept and gather valuable information, while shielding you from scrutiny in the trial-and-error phase.
Step 3: Creating a Structure
Lastly, creating a structure of accountability further increases the probability for success in making your stand a reality. For business goals, successful structures include: setting milestones, assigning roles and responsibilities and identifying deliverables, timelines, funding sources, and necessary approvals. For personal goals, like running a marathon, an accountability structure would include finding a friend to do it with, signing up for a training program, hiring a coach and researching different methods and plans used by successful marathon runners.
Regardless of the source of the breakthrough idea, there is a science behind achieving repeatable breakthrough performance. As described above, the breakthrough process works for individual leaders and teams in their professional and personal lives. It is a leadership competency to develop and requires ongoing practice. One of the best ways to keep it sharp is by surrounding yourself with others who practice it also. Over time, producing breakthrough results will naturally become part of who you are and how you live.
For coaching on the breakthrough process, contact us.