“Tony, you help people think, and thinking’s not easy,” observed Jim Norman, former president to Zig Ziglar and my coach. He was right. Thinking is not easy. Thinking and strategy can be linked together; in fact, they are almost synonymous. There are many ways to become more strategic and think deeper.
Here are twenty-one life areas where you can be more strategic. Be encouraged to think more and be more strategic in everything you do—not just in your business.
1. Strategic Thinking: This is where it all starts. Every problem is a thinking problem. What do you do when you don’t get the results you want, or when you don’t get the results you want fast enough? Make some changes. There’s a ton of power in thinking strategically.
2. Strategic Health: Being strategic with your health means you think about it in such a way that you make everything you do a habit—including eating properly, getting the right amount of sleep, handling stress, taking the right supplements, and exercising—so it becomes part of your lifestyle and who you are.
3. Strategic Preparation: Thinking ahead and being prepared pays off in spades in every area of your life. For example, delayed gratification is a powerful concept that involves thinking and planning far into the future, and it yields amazing results down the line.
4. Strategic Time: Strategic time has to do with getting really clear on the Low Leverage Activities that steal your time and investing in more High Leverage Activities that have the most impact on your results. Also, saying “no” to the things that don’t matter allows you to focus on the things that are important. Think through what you put on your calendar.
5. Strategic Emails: Emails can be a huge waste of time because most organizations have not taken the time to set email standards for their people. For example, our standards include frontloading your emails, so they’re really clear and concise and using bullets instead of paragraphs.
6. Strategic Goals: Being strategic in your goal setting is understanding that you become what you think about. Design your own life by setting goals on not just what you want to have, but also what you want to share, experience, give, and of course become.
7. Strategic Meetings: The two ways we communicate, especially today, are through emails and meetings—and many meetings today are virtual. Most people do well on their delivery in their meetings. The big takeaway we teach here is the power of effective preparation (including objectives and a strong agenda) and follow-up. (Live note-taking on a screen, showing who is responsible for what action and by when is a huge asset here.)
8. Strategic Travel: There are many great things you can do strategically to turn your travel into black-card experiences, starting with defining your perfect trip and all the details of what you want to experience. Be sure to strategically engage your co-travelers and your support team. Then plan to the hilt and check and double-check all you’ve done to make sure there are no glitches, and finally, enjoy!
9. Strategic Eating: Understand how food works. The big takeaway here is whatever you put in your refrigerator and your pantry is what you’re going to end up eating—so be strategic about your shopping!
10. Strategic Communication: When you communicate strategically, you understand how people want to receive it—by text, email, voicemail, podcasts, or whatever—and communicate that way. Understand a person’s personality style and communicate accordingly.
11. Strategic Assessment: Assessment is one of the most powerful tools you can use. Create a rhythm in assessing yourself, your company, and your team to see how you’re doing and then reflecting on your findings and making improvements on your efforts.
12. Strategic Service: Strategic service is going the extra mile and doing more than is expected. There is a little booklet called Customer Experience, and one of the big takeaways is the idea of giving your customers a membership experience—making them feel special, whether they are actually members or not.
13. Strategic Planning: Do you have a powerful and well-thought-out strategic plan for your organization, tied to a simple, well-thought-out vision? And do you have a system for ensuring all team members understand the vision and are reminded of it constantly, to ensure focus? How about a strategic plan (design) for your life?
14. Strategic Culture: Working with some of the greatest companies in the world, including helping the president of Ford create a High-Performing Team years ago, I have learned we can all be more strategic with our culture. It’s a matter of defining the standards and values you want to build your culture around.
15. Strategic Advice: In Advice Matters, it states that seeking advice from others who have achieved the kind of results you are looking for is one of the wisest—and quickest—ways to design and live a successful life. You’re able to uncover blind spots by intentionally having people give you insights so you can learn from things they’ve already done and be able to make better decisions.
16. Strategic IQ: Strategic IQ is having an intentional balance between your strategic (thinking) and tactical activities. It’s thinking strategically at a whole new level that focuses on solutions rather than problems.
17. Strategic Wealth: Being strategic about wealth is not just about money. It’s about delaying gratification and positioning yourself, so you win every day—now and in the future. That means intentionally putting some things off until you get everything in the right order.
18. Strategic Results: Everyone wants to get the best results, to achieve the best results think through what force multipliers will drive your results quicker, including how well you prioritize.
19. Strategic Relationships: Strong relationships help you leverage your career growth, expand your success, create your legacy (both personally and professionally) and live a happier life. It’s important to nurture your relationships by doing favors for them, whether they are your corporate employees, someone on your team, someone in the field, or even strategic vendors.
20. Strategic Success: Are you over-delivering for whatever you’re promising in your business? That’s one of the most powerful things you can do to get the results you want and be successful in life—both personally and professionally.
21. Strategic Acceleration: My foundational methodology is Clarity, Focus, and Execution. It’s a three-legged stool, and if you’re missing one leg, the stool (your organization) will collapse.
I’ve just shared with you what I’ve learned over the years of my own personal journey in becoming more strategic. I hope it’s impacted you and maybe given you an “aha” or even an epiphany about the importance of being strategic and using it as a major component in your own journey to success.