Mental Cross Training
By Brian Tracy
World-class athletes have known for many years that the only way that they can perform at their very peak is by developing all of their various muscles and abilities in a balanced way. In its simplest form, physical cross-training requires that you work on endurance, strength, and flexibility in a rotating format. When I was lifting weights as a young man, it was quite standard for us to work on the muscle groups that were less developed to keep them growing in balance with those muscle groups that were further ahead.
In mental cross-training, you must do the same thing with your repertoire of knowledge and skills. First of all, you need to determine the subjects that you have to be good at in order to be in the top ten or 20 percent in your field. Your job is to make the decision, right now, to go all the way to the top. And the fortunate thing is that, if anyone else has done it, you can do it as well. You simply need to follow in their tracks.
Harvard Business Review did a study some years ago on a subject that they called, “Critical Success Factors.” The idea of critical success factors revolved around the discovery that to dominate any field of endeavor there are seldom more than five to seven skill areas that you absolutely, positively have to be good at. There may be a hundred or a thousand things that you have to do, but there are basically only five to seven areas where you need to commit yourself to excellent performance in order to move way ahead of the rest of the field.
These critical success factors are where you begin your program of mental cross-training. If you are in sales, for example, your seven critical success factors may be prospecting, getting appointments, establishing a relationship with the client, identifying the problem that the client has that your product or service will solve, presenting your product or service as the solution, closing the sale, and personal management. You will have to be absolutely, positively excellent in every one of these areas for you to be a great success in selling any product or service in any market.
And here's one of the most important discoveries about mental cross-training. If you are weak in any one critical area, that one area will set the height at which you use all your other skills. It will be the chief factor that determines your income and your level of success in your field. If you are absolutely excellent in six out of seven critical success factors but you are terrible in the seventh, you will be held back from ever realizing your full potential in whatever it is you do.
Let me give you an example. Let's say that you are absolutely excellent in every single part of selling except prospecting. Because of fear or negativity or competition in the marketplace, you are poor at getting appointments with new prospects who can and will buy your product or service. You may be outstanding at everything else but if you can't get in front of people, you will ultimately fail.
In another example, let's say you are good at prospecting and getting appointments and establishing rapport, but when it comes to actually getting the client to take action or to closing the sale, you tense up, you are unable to do it, and you leave empty-handed. Again, you could be outstanding at everything except closing the sale and that alone will sabotage your entire career.
If you are in sales, or in any other field, here's an action strategy for assessing your current level of performance. First, identify your critical success factors, the key areas in which you must be excellent if you want to be successful. Then give yourself a score from one to ten¾with one being the lowest and ten being the highest¾in each area. You will find that areas in which you have given yourself a low score are primary areas of stress, frustration, anxiety, and underachievement in whatever it is you are doing. You need to have a score above seven in every area for you to perform excellently in a well-balanced way.
It is essential that you be perfectly honest with yourself. It will do you no good to pretend that you are good at something when in reality it is interfering with your success in your career. Once you have worked out your critical success factors and you have given yourself a score in each of the five to seven areas, take your score to someone who knows you and ask him or her to score you. The best person for this is your boss, but if you have a friendly customer, ask if he or she will give you a score as well.
If you are in management, there will also be seven critical success factors that determine your level of achievement in your position. They could be a variety of skills but the most common, what I call the “big seven”, are planning, organizing, staffing, delegating, supervising, innovating, and reporting. If you are poor in any one of these seven areas, that could be sufficient, in itself, to hold you back from using all your other talents.
WISHING YOU HEALTH & HAPPINESS. MAJOR (R) KHALID NASR