Learn to Think on Your Feet

Complacency can ruin your chances for success. It’s the same as being in a rut and deciding to stay there. People should and must live on the edge—it’s the opposite of complacency, and the same as thinking on your feet.

Ever notice how your senses are heightened when you are in challenging situations? It’s like having an adrenalin rush that gives you extra energy. If you see every day as a challenge, you’d be surprised how efficient you can become and how much can be accomplished. People often say they “hit the street running,” which is another way of saying they did their prep work and were ready.

The basic ingredients for success in business are to learn to think ahead, to be prepared, and to cover your bases.

In business, you must spend a great deal of time researching every detail that might be pertinent to a deal. People often comment on how some business leaders operate with speed. The reason they can move quickly is that they’ve done the background work first, which often no one sees. Just because you don’t see someone working doesn’t mean they haven’t been working in their spare or private time. You must prepare yourself thoroughly, and then when it is time to move ahead, you are ready to sprint.

Being able to think on your feet is the result of training and discipline. You can’t sprint unless you have built up the strength to do so. Building the stamina is up to you. If you don’t work at it, it’s not going to happen by wishful thinking. You have to dedicate yourself to it every day. In other words, set a goal and work toward it. Athletes know that no one else can do the training for them, and business people should have the same discipline. They have to be self-reliant.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I’d thought of that!”? I’ve heard people say that when they come across something very clever or something fantastic. One way to learn to think on your feet is to ask yourself what you should be thinking of this very moment. Do it right now, and then see other people saying, “I wish I’d thought of that—what a great idea!” You’d be surprised how many good ideas you might have if you’d give yourself the opportunity to think about them. Thinking takes time. It’s the preparation for being able to think on your feet. First things first: First we walk, then we run, then we sprint.

It is an encouraging fact that man has the unquestioned ability to elevate his life by conscious endeavour. That is not only an encouraging statement; it is also an empowering one. It means you can accomplish a lot by applying your brainpower and then moving forward with it. Thought without action won’t amount to much in the long run. Those great ideas you have will remain great ideas unless you actively do something with them.

Don’t wait for dire circumstances to test your quick-thinking ability. Test yourself daily. Be on alert at all times. As Napoleon said, “A leader has the right to be beaten, but never the right to be surprised.” See yourself as a leader—starting right now. It will mean you are self-reliant, responsible, and not apt to being unnecessarily surprised by the vicissitudes of life, whether you are in business or not. Being prepared cannot be overestimated, and if you want to hit the big time running, you’d better be able to think on those feet of yours.

Adapted from Think like A champion

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