The most important word in your entrepreneurial vocabulary is “next.”
Next fortifies action.
Next symbolizes progress.
Next is the BFF of your business.
Next means complacency prevention.
Next means continuous improvement.
Next is the monetizer of momentum.
Next is the fervent architect of creative reinvention.
Next is the critical trigger of entrepreneurial advancement.
Next is the rocket fuel of your career.
Next derives from the German term, nahisto, which means, “Neighbor.”
Next derives from the Old English term, niehsta, which means “Nearest.”
Next is the playmate of your professional life.
THEREFORE: Don’t just use the word next – bow to the door of next.
Bow meaning honor.
Bow meaning respect.
Bow meaning recognize.
Knowing that without incremental progress, there is no incidental profit.
Today we’re going explore six ways to honor, cultivate and leverage next as an invaluable attitude of entrepreneurial excellence.
1. How do you talk to yourself when you fail? Imagine you just screwed up. Ate the big one. Totally bombed. Pulled a Homer. Instead of whining, “I suck!” start affirming, “Nextime…” First, this helps you let go of the past and focus on the future. You can’t debate what was.
Second, maintaining a nextime attitude forces you to begin thinking about what you’ll do differently. Sure beats becoming paralyzed by your own mistakes and a prisoner of yesterday’s errors.
Third, nextime is about (not) overreacting emotionally or being too hard on yourself. Rather, navigating the entrepreneurial waters calmly, objectively and unapologetically. Are you willing to increase your dosage of vitamin nextime?
2. What’s next? My readers and audience members frequently ask me, “Hey Scott, which of your books is your favorite?” And after eight years, the answer has always been the same: “My next one.” I challenge you to embrace that same attitude of “What’s next?” in your work.
First, on a micro level. That is, in terms of productivity. Ask yourself this question throughout the day to resurrect declining momentum. Secondly, on a macro level. That is, in terms of projectivity. Ask yourself this question throughout your creative process to ensure consistent execution. What is your legacy of taking action?
3. What will you do differently next time? Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement. That’s exactly what this question is all about: Honoring your current performance, yet challenging yourself to envision an enhanced future.
In my first five years as a professional speaker, I employed this philosophy as a post-speech ritual. Once my presentation was over, I’d take fifteen minutes to write a stream of consciousness list. Every thought, every feeling and every evaluation of my performance, I wrote down. What worked? What didn’t work? What killed? What bombed?
Then, when I was done, I’d make a note at the bottom of the document that read, “In my next speech, what I plan to do differently is ____________.” This simple ritual grew into a profitable practice for continuous improvement of my performance as a speaker. How could you apply the same reflection process to your job performance?
4. Now that I have this, what else does this make possible? If you want to kill two stones with one bird every time, all you have to do is consistently imagine what else can be made (or could come) from this. Therein lies the key to leverage: Looking at something you’ve created and then playing with its potential.
This process is called Movement Value. You identify concepts that allow you to “breed” other ideas from those concepts. You expand, grow, cook, stretch and shift your idea, allowing it to spawn creative offspring. You look for spin-offs and related ideas. You go forth and multiply. You also exercise enough restraint to recognize LACK of potential.
If an idea doesn’t have much (or any) movement value, you need to save it, file it and move onto something else. Is this idea a springboard or a straightjacket?
5. If everything you’ve done up until now is just the beginning, what’s next? Past is prologue. Past brought you here. Past made you who you are. When you start to align your thinking with this truth, a new world of possibilities opens up.
Your challenge is to extend gratitude for – and embrace the value of – everything you’ve already accomplished. At the same time, don’t overvalue prior successes. Arrogance of the past will come back to bite you in the ass. As John Mayer explained during a 2009 interview with Esquire:
“To evolve, you have to dismantle. And that means accepting the idea that nothing you created in the past matters anymore other than it brought you here. You pick up your new marching orders and get to work.” Will you view the past as a crutch or a fulcrum?
6. What are the three next steps you can take on your own? This is an expanded version of David Allen’s famous question from Getting Things Done, “What’s the next action?” The secret is twofold. First, by assigning a number to it (three), you set a quota of accomplishment.
This forces you to stretch your thinking. Secondly, by specifying the person taking action (you), progress becomes a brighter possibility because you take personal responsibility. Are you using specific, ownership-taking language?
REMEMBER: The answer to “When?” is “Next!”
It’s the most important word in your entrepreneurial vocabulary.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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