Founder at Elivate and Part time million dollar business.
Almost all of the advice for entrepreneurs I’ve come across throughout my career has centered on the concept of “incremental growth.” This is not surprising given that incremental growth is the safest and most predictable recipe for growth in virtually any industry. This idea is flanked by concepts such as ‘step by step’ and ‘making a little progress every day’.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with incremental growth per se, I’ve learned that many of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time don’t take the incremental approach — they take the exponential approach, or what I like to call the “quantum leap.” If incremental growth is a staircase, then quantum leap is an elevator.
Below are three basic quantum leap steps that I’ve seen transform the lives of countless entrepreneurs and business owners, including mine.
1. Think outside the box.
In most industries, there is a pattern of in-the-box thinking that any entrepreneur can find and follow, depending on where they end up in their field. For example, I have a background in chiropractic care and have seen (and used) in-the-box thinking at various points in my career. First, there is a preset academic path that indicates the trajectory of your education. Then there’s the in-the-box pattern used in your practice, on-the-job, to guide both you and your patients toward what’s considered an “ideal” outcome.
While you may find marginal success with traditional, in-the-box thinking that has been established as the norm in your individual profession, thinking in the box isn’t the key to experiencing a quantum leap. A quantum leap happens when you come out of the box and start thinking in a completely different way –your way. The exception to this is in the case of an industry where a professional credential is required, but don’t rely solely on the preset path as the incremental guide to your success. Live in the box as long as it serves you, then break out to make your own way.
2. Find a mentor.
The value of a mentor cannot be overemphasized, especially a mentor who does what you would like to do in the future. Nevertheless, you may be surprised to learn that a great mentor does not guide you to follow in their footsteps. Instead, valuable mentors are individuals who can help you discover your own strengths and then use their industry-specific knowledge and insights to encourage you on your own path.
Having worked with a variety of mentors over the course of my career, I have found that there is no match for the sympathetic ear and wisdom of someone who has been where you are. Find individuals who have credentials similar to yours, who have achieved something significant in your industry, achieved or circumvented the level of success you aspire to, and are interested in building a legacy or giving back to their community.
3. Stop ‘setting’ goals.
Goals, especially SMART goals, are the bread and butter of the entrepreneurial playbook, making them the model system for incremental growth. Goals can be tricky if you’re running a business because they can be as limiting as they are empowering. In both my personal and coaching experience, I have noticed that most entrepreneurs tend to be huge underestimate what they can achieve. Goals are often set much lower and smaller than they should be, and while it can be morally stimulating to achieve a small goal, it can also be too easy and unfulfilled.
I have found that the reward for achieving a goal is directly proportional to how ‘difficult’ we perceive the goal as such. Instead of selecting a realistic goal (an important part of the SMART goal system), I suggest setting a goal that you consider bizarre and then breaking That converting the goal into achievable, specified steps.
If you plan to be a groundbreaking company and/or thought leader taking a quantum leap, you can’t afford to think SMART. You have to think BIG (bold, inspiring and growth-oriented). Stop “setting” goals and use them as stairs to hit the big prize. Instead, let your big prize be your first milestone and aim past it. If you’re really ready for exponential growth, you need to understand that you’re striving for the unknown – the reality behind your ultimate goal. You may not even know what that is yet.
You don’t need to know your next step.
The individuals who have made a huge leap in their careers all have one thing in common: they have not used the script.
To expand, grow and advance in your field, you don’t need to know what’s coming. You just have to know what you’re putting on the table. If you can relentlessly be yourself, seek (and follow) expert guidance, and fearlessly look beyond your goals, you’re on the right track to experience exponential growth. Implement these three tools and it won’t be long before you look back on your own journey and see how far you’ve come.