How To Bypass Incremental Growth

Founder at Elivate and Part-Time Million Dollar Business.

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Almost all of the advice for entrepreneurs that I’ve encountered over the course of my career has focused on the concept of “incremental growth.” This is not surprising, as incremental growth is the safest, most predictable recipe for growth in virtually every industry. This idea is flanked by concepts like “one step at a time” and “make a little progress every day.”

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with incremental growth in and of itself, 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 leaping is an elevator.

Below are three basic steps to quantum leaping that I’ve watched transform countless entrepreneurs’ and business owners’ lives, including my own.

1. Think outside of the box.

In most industries, there’s a pattern of in-the-box thinking that any entrepreneur can find and follow, depending on where they land in their field. For example, I have a background in chiropractic care and have seen (and used) in-the-box thinking at different times in my career. First, there’s a preset academic path that lays out the trajectory of your education. Then, there’s the in-the-box pattern that is used in your actual practice, on-the-job, to guide both you and your patients to what is 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, in-the-box thinking is not the key to experiencing a quantum leap. A quantum leap occurs when you break 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 in which a professional credential is required, but barring that, don’t rely exclusively on the preset path as the incremental guide to your success. Live in the box for as long as it serves you, and then break out of it to forge your own path.

2. Find a mentor.

The value of a mentor cannot be overstated—particularly a mentor who is doing what you’d like to be doing in the future. Nevertheless, you may be surprised to learn that a great mentor doesn’t guide you to follow in their footsteps. Instead, high-value mentors are individuals who can help you discover your own strengths and then use their industry-specific knowledge and insights to encourage you along your own path.

Having worked with a variety of mentors over the course of my career, I’ve found there is no match for having the listening ear and wisdom of someone who has been where you are. Seek out individuals who have similar credentials to yours, have accomplished something significant in your industry, have hit or bypassed the level of success you’re aiming for and who 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, which makes them the model system for incremental growth. Goals can be a tricky thing when you’re running any kind of enterprise since they can be as limiting as they are empowering. In both my personal and coaching experience, I’ve found that most entrepreneurs tend to vastly underestimate what they can accomplish. Goals are often set far lower and smaller than they need to be, and while it can be morale-boosting to accomplish a small goal, it can also be too easy and unfulfilling.

I’ve found that the reward of accomplishing a goal is directly proportional to how “difficult” we perceive the goal to be. Rather than select a realistic goal (a key component of the SMART goal system), I suggest setting a goal you consider to be outlandish and then breaking that goal into attainable, itemized steps.

If you intend to be a groundbreaking business and/or thought leader who takes an enormous quantum leap, you can’t afford to think SMART. You need to think BIG (bold, inspirational and growth-oriented). Stop “setting” goals and using them as a staircase to get to the big prize. Instead, let your big prize be your first milestone and aim past it. If you’re truly ready for exponential growth, you must understand that you’re aiming for the unknown—the reality behind your ultimate goal. You may not even know what that is yet.

You don’t have to know your next step.

The individuals who have experienced a quantum leap in their careers all have one thing in common: They didn’t use the playbook.

In order to expand, grow and push forward in your field of expertise, you don’t have to know what’s coming next. You simply have to know what you’re bringing to the table. If you can remain relentlessly yourself, seek (and follow) expert guidance and look fearlessly beyond your goals, then you’re on the right track to experience exponential growth. Implement these three tools and it won’t be long before you’re looking back at your own journey and seeing just how far you’ve come.

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