You simply need a roadmap.
Luckily (or should I say steadily), you can construct your own with the following three steps.
(1) Pre-Visualize with Precision
Most people think pre-visualizing something means imagining the event actually happening — they’re actually playing in the US Open, they’re actually running a company, they’re actually giving a speech. The problem is, they’re actually skipping the step where they assess problems that could come up. The ‘what-ifs’, the hurdles.
Thinking linearly will only serve to disappoint.
Do you think a viable Presidential Candidate would falter if a teleprompter went out? A US Open tennis player would lose because a rain-delay interrupted his or her momentum?
So here’s your first step: break down the thing you want to do into specific scenes, write down of all the things that could go wrong, and come up with 3 corresponding andspecific solutions for each. What exactly would you do.
A great test to see if you’ve dug deep enough? Talk yourself through the solution out loud. Yes, like a crazy person.
(2) Create a Core Question
When you’re executing the task at hand, you’ll notice things that could be done better, but require changing course — sometimes substantially. It’s risky, you’re undecided, and out of time. What do you do?
Defer to your ‘Core Question’ of course.
A Core Question is a simple, one line question you create prior to your task that will help govern your instincts through situations you can’t predict or fully control. It captures the heart of what you’re looking to accomplish. It breaks you free of the emotional response inherent in high-tension situations.
It gives you context.
For example, when directing films and a particularly tough decision comes up, I ask myself “Will I regret it if I don’t do this?” It quickly forces me into a cost-benefit analysis of the situation instead of an emotional ‘hurry-up!’ response, resulting in a much better, more objective decision.
(3) Self-Review on a Deadline
Self-Review is one of the most overlooked and undervalued resources we have. It’s been shown that an active, dedicated review improves performance substantially — yet we fail to take advantage of it!
Before you even begin your task, create a template that asks you to list out both the good and the bad — and requires you to come up with specific, actionable solutions for anything that wasn’t perfect.
But even that isn’t enough! You’ll realize, in the afterglow of completing your task, that kind of detailed, thought-provoking work is annoying. You’ve done a mental check-list of what could be better already. You’ll remember what you didn’t do well. That’s good enough — right? (Hint: it’s not)
So in addition to creating a detailed template (feel free to adapt my own personal template here), you need to create a time-table-to-completion.
Wouldn’t it be easier if all it took to be world-class was a bit of luck?