Learning to aim high is ideal for any leader who has the ambition to win big. Unless winning small is your target, aiming high is the only option you should consider as an impactful leader looking to make a mark in your field.
How exactly can you strategically aim high, achieve your goals, and benefit from the fruits of true excellence?
It is hard to go wrong when developing small micro habits, executing daily tasks, tracking your progress and thinking long term((Harvard Business Review: To Achieve Big Goals, Start with Small Habits)). Self-improvement is directly related to one’s ability to aim high because of the fluidity of the capitalist system((Harvard Business Review: Focus on “Microhabits” to Change Your Behavior)).
I’m not aware of any professional who aims high and stops learning and developing new skill sets. Life evolves, and skill sets get obsolete. New demands are born. Challenges arise. Therefore, proactive continuous leadership improvement is necessary, expected, and beneficial to us all.
Gordon Tredgold, Founder and CEO of Leadership principles, stated that the secret to success is aiming high, following by starting small and keep going. He goes further to say that, “Big success are often just an accumulation of small successes.”((Inc: Secret to Success: Aim High, Start Small, and Keep Going))
In this article, you will learn why small micro habits, executing daily tasks, tracking your progress long term, continuous self improvement, and the accumulation of small successes are powerful strategic footsteps for aiming high in the workforce.
Why You Should Strategically Aim High
Simply put, aiming low and failing isn’t worth living for. What a waste of time and talent it would be for anyone to ignore strategy and avoid aiming high and risking failure over success.
Learning to aim high must be your only stance when setting up life career goals if you truly want to live with passion and purpose.
6 Strategic Ways to Aim High and Achieve Your Goals
To aim high and achieve you goals, you must be strategic. Do these following activities, adapt them to your field, and test and see if they work for you. The following is exactly what I do to keep achieving high and living a life of purpose and continuous achievement.
1. Developing Small Micro Habits
You must first develop the ability to start micro habits, like curating your sphere of influence((Forbes: 22 Microhabits That Will Completely Change Your Life In A Year)).
The people you associate yourself with make a big difference in your life. Dr. Jose Valentino Ruiz-Resto, a University of Florida Music Entrepreneurship faculty member and Multi-Grammy and Emmy Award Winner, once said, “When you associate yourself with winners, you become a winner.”
Who is in your immediate sphere of influence? It’s important to know the answer to this because they will influence both your personality and path in life.
Other small but important micro habits are taking actions when others don’t, observing patterns, and starting each day by asking: “How can I change my life today?”
2. Executing Daily Tasks
In order to aim high and succeed, you need a plan and a course of action. The goal, in my current position as Department Chair, is to build the very best department of media production among Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the state of Alabama. My plan is to develop the necessary infrastructure, e.g. having modern facilities, an up-to-date media curriculum, a place for students to congregate, etc.
In order to accomplish all of this, I must execute a variety of daily tasks, including answering emails relating to the vision of the unit, speaking with students in order to gather important youth insights, revising old and writing new syllabi objectives, and creating partnerships on campus to increase cross-collaboration.
Even if you have big, long-term goals, the daily tasks that you engage in each day will ultimately be what allows you to achieve them. Don’t get lost in big ideas and forget the importance of small tasks.
3. Tracking Your Progress in the Long-Term
Aiming high is almost always synonymous with aiming long-term. Achieving the extraordinary is a lifetime pursuit that takes time and must be measured against a particular standard overtime. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book The Tipping Point, stated that “Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours.”((BBC: Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?))
While some scholars disagree with the actual number (10,000 hours), they do agree that a considerable amount of time is required for expertise to be developed. Leaders who aim high and succeed keep an up-to-date spreadsheet with data tracking the time spent on each task, along with progress made.
Project analytics is critical in the process because when variables are measured over time, trends (positive and negative) emerge, leading to insightful conclusions. This can help you adjust your goals as you go.
4. Continuous Self-Improvement
Tiger Woods, in his quest for self-improvement, “would get up in the morning and run four miles. After that, he’d go to the gym to lift weights. Then, he’d hit some balls for two or three hours, go play around, and then work on his short game.”((SportsCasting: Tiger Woods’ Workout Routine From His Prime Is Kinda Insane))
Some may consider his routine insane, but none disagree that Tiger Woods aimed very high and succeeded in his golf endeavors. He has been known for always trying to improve, even after winning multiple major open golf championships.
It’s clear to me that Tiger understood kaizen, the Japanese philosophy and practice for continuous improvement. It’s without question a requisite for aiming high and succeeding.
5. Accumulation of Small Successes
Aiming high and succeeding starts with taking the first step and accumulating small victories along the way. Let’s take the example of a journey to get a PhD. A PhD isn’t earned quickly or all at once. It is achieved over time through small successes.
It starts with getting accepted to a PhD program, followed by becoming a PhD candidate, passing coursework, to eventually being able to take “the comps” and start working on a doctoral dissertation. It is only after the former that a candidate has the chance to complete the degree through a dissertation defense.
Another great example comes from Chrysler. The great Lee Iacocca revived Chrysler Corporation in the 1980’s((CNBC: From saving Chrysler to buying Jeep, here are the late Lee Iacocca’s greatest achievements)) by accumulating small successes which allowed his to acquire the Jeep Division of AMC in 1987. Great corporate leaders aim high and succeed by accumulating small successes along the way, and you can, too.
To aim high is a philosophy worth pursuing. When implemented with sound and previously tested strategies, success is within reach. Above are just some of the strategies you might want to put in practice in your leadership bag of tricks. Higher standards emerge from such principles, and success follows the results.
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