Ask any debate coach and they’ll tell you one of the first rules of debate is knowing what it will take to change your mind. If you have that information, you can work backwards to build a more convincing case against your opponent.
You Are Your Biggest Obstacle
In the business world, often our biggest opponent is ourselves. We focus so much on everyone and everything else, we don’t look after number one. One of the worst infractions – not know what success means to you. Like not knowing what it would take to change your mind, not knowing what success looks like to you will create all sorts of short circuits and problems when it comes time to actually get something done.
Define Your Goals
If you haven’t defined success for yourself, you don’t know what you’re working toward. If that’s the case, you won’t be able to inspire anyone else to chase that goal either … because as far as you’re concerned, it doesn’t exist.
And if your “goal” is actually a wish or a hope, then you still have some work to do. Dreams are great, and they can even be motivational, but if they aren’t specific and don’t come with dates and other metrics to determine relative success, you will never know, objectively, if you’re getting any closer.
Devise a Plan
See, this is the key difference between those who chase success and those who actually achieve it. Have you ever talked to someone who always seems absolutely convinced they are on the verge of a breakthrough? What about people who have a long string of victories on their resumes? Do these people sound alike when they talk? Of course not. Breakthrough Guy has no idea what will happen or when it will happen. He wants to believe “good things are coming” so that’s what he believes.
Hit Your Milestones
Meanwhile, Successful Guy is busy marking specific achievements on written timetables and measuring pluses and minuses on one or more progress charts. He KNOWS where he is because he has the data, based on specific goals and a manageable plan. Dreams Guy doesn’t even have a manageable plan – he can’t, because you need facts to be able to effectively manage anything.
Sure, it’s nice to feel good about where you are going, but it feels even better to KNOW where you are going. Step one is to define what it will look like when you get there. Figure that out and, again, work backwards until you’ve figured out step two.
Roman Temkin is an entrepreneur in NYC.