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29 Lessons From The Greatest Strategic Minds Who Ever Lived, Fought, Or Led

The ‘Draw-Down Period’

Before he would jump into an idea and go full steam, take a reflective period to step back ask yourself: "What do I really have here? Do I actually have something? What am I hoping to accomplish?”

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29 Lessons From The Greatest Strategic Minds Who Ever Lived, Fought, Or Led

29 Lessons From The Greatest Strategic Minds Who Ever Lived, Fought, Or Led

https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2016/08/29-lessons-from-the-greatest-strategic-minds-who-ever-lived-fought-or-lead/

thoughtcatalog.com

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Key Ideas

Tactical Hell

It is a place where we are perpetually reactive to other people’s demands and needs, driven by emotional instead of logical impulses.

We need to escape it and see things objectively and with detachment, from a distance.

The Art of Negative Visualization

This is a stoic lesson, to visualize failure in advance.

It helps because if you imagine failure you start seeing all the ways that have led to that result. And you can start actively working on addressing and mitigating them in advance.

The ‘Draw-Down Period’

Before he would jump into an idea and go full steam, take a reflective period to step back ask yourself: "What do I really have here? Do I actually have something? What am I hoping to accomplish?”

Actively Seek Criticism

If you want to be successful, leave no room for your ego.

You actively submit your strategic plans to feedback and criticism—that’s how they get better.

Seeing Things As They Are

Strategy requires objectivity and seeing things as they are. 

It requires us to put aside how our emotions cloud our thinking with fear overconfidence and see how the situation truly is.

Adopt Systems & Processes

With a system in place, you can better do the most essential job of a strategist: think long term.

To put into practice your vision, you need systems, routines and rituals—structures that prevent you from sliding off the track. 

Form a Red Team

This is a team with a simple job: to find holes and problems in your plan.

Leave your ego out and be grateful when people expose flaws in your approach.

Deal With Problems Early

The best time to do it was yesterday, the next best is right now. 

Don’t put off dealing with your problems. They will only grow.

Beware of Specialization

If you become too myopic and focused on your scope of work, you might lose contact with the bigger picture.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Leo Tolstoy
"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time" 
Leo Tolstoy
Zig Ziglar
Zig Ziglar

"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."

7 Characteristics Of Strategic Thinkers
  1. Vision: they use a mix of logic and creativity to define ambitious but rigorous visions of what needs to be achieved. 
  2. Framework: taking into account their own biases, timeline and resources, they can define their objectives and develop multiple action plans.
  3. Perceptiveness: they observe and understand the world from all the different perspectives. 
  4. Assertiveness: They’re good at evaluating, deciding and promptly executing their decisions without letting doubts fog their vision. 
  5. Flexibility: they seek advice to compensate for their weaknesses and then twist their ideas and framework to achieve their goals. But they are flexible without breaking the rules. 
  6. Emotional Balance: they are aware and balance their emotions so as to favor the achievement of their goals. 
  7. Patience: they understand that most achievements are a long-term endeavor involving various milestones and a lot of effort. 

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Boss-mode vs worker-mode

Knowledge workers usually have to play 2 roles at the same time - the boss and the worker: They have to choose what their work is (boss-mode) and they have to do the actu...

Limited attention

Your attention is a limited resource and you have to be careful where you are spending it.
If you choose to give away 80 percent of your attention to meetings, you will have 20 percent of your attention just for dealing with a few emails feeling overwhelmed.

Levels of attention
  • Proactive attention: you are fully focused and prepared for your most important decisions/ most complex tasks.
  • Active attention: you're plugged in, but also easily distracted.
  • Inactive attention: you're likely to really struggle with complex or difficult tasks.

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Being More Reflective

Strategic thinkers understand and dig deeper when analyzing processes, developing and applying performance metrics, collecting data and producing analytics for better decision-making. They c...

Being better leaders

Strategic thinkers advance their careers by being better leaders. Not all great thinkers are great leaders, but the ones who are leadership material are likely better leaders than those who fail to think strategically.

Strategic leaders go beyond the role of having and communicating a vision to fully understanding, planning and executing the necessary strategies to realize it. They make better decisions as they have a more holistic view that includes the organization and the people inside and outside it.

Creating a Domino effect

Strategic thinkers demonstrate organizational value by creating more strategic thinkers. Developing a culture that considers strategy and doesn’t lose sight of the value that needs to be delivered greatly increases the capabilities of a company. Strategic thinkers are the ones in the organization who ponder and prompt questions that are designed to create even more strategic thinkers.

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10 Success Lessons From Chris Gardner
  1. Assess yourself. We all have unique abilities and talents and however small we can do great things with them.
  2. Look to someone you admire
  3. Believe in your...
Scenario planning

It aims to define your critical uncertainties and develop plausible scenarios in order to discuss the impacts and the responses to give for each one of them. If you are aware of what could h...

How to use scenario planning
  1. Identify your driving forces: the big shifts in society, economics, technology and politics in the future and see how it will affect your company.
  2. Identify your critical uncertainties: pick 1-2 of the driving forces (with the most impact).
  3. Develop a range of plausible scenarios: Form a kind of matrix with your two critical uncertainties as axis and depending on what direction each of the uncertainties will take, you are now able to draw four possible scenarios for the future.
  4. Discuss the implications: discuss the various implications and impacts of each scenario and start to reconsider your strategy: set your mission and your goals while taking into account every scenario.
Some pitfalls to avoid

  • Don't fall into the trap is to be paralyzed by the multitude of possibilities. Keep it simple and focus on two major uncertainties.
  • Don't believe that you have to choose one particular scenario and build your strategy around it. Scenario planning is not about choosing just one option for the future but rather dealing with all of the possible outcomes to develop a strategy that will stand the test of all scenarios.
  • When developing your different scenarios, try to not look at the short term. Do not hesitate to look far ahead, anticipating what the market and competitors are going to be over the next years. 

Seth Godin

"If you set your bar at amazing, it’s awfully difficult to start."

Seth Godin
Learning vs comparing 

Learning from others is great. But comparing your current situation to someone who is already successful can often make you feel like you lack the required resources to get started at all. 

What is Optimal vs. what is Needed

Great gear can make your life much easier on the road, but it’s not required. You don’t need new cooking bowls to start eating healthy. And you don’t need a new backpack to start traveling.  

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Treat Others With Respect

George Washington was a man of exceptional integrity who carried himself with dignity and self-confidence and was excessively loved among the masses.

Whoever you’re talking to, treat them ...

Always do The Right Thing

Great leaders do the right thing even when no one’s watching. In the times of pseudo-leadership, it’s not hard to spot an authentic leader - someone who is fair, smart, and empathetic, like Martin Luther King Jr

A true leader never shies away from voicing his opinions, breaking stereotypes, and doing the right thing - not just once but every single time.

You Need Other People To Succeed

Richard Branson knew that great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by teams.

Branson aims to find the best candidate for a job, give them enough autonomy, then step back to give them a space to flourish. It not only benefits the business as a whole but also helps them to become a leader in their own right.

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Sun Tzu: Winning without fighting
Sun Tzu: Winning without fighting

Sun Tzu, the legendary military strategist, preferred to win without fighting or, at the very least, to win the easiest battles first.

The teachings of Su...

Failure relates to a weak strategy

In most situations failure is not a result of poor willpower, but a result of poor strategy.

In battles and in building new habits, start easy

Good military leaders start by winning easy battles and improving their position.

Same goes for starting habits. You should not start new habits in an environment that makes progress difficult.

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Conditions for leadership

There is a difference between the necessary conditions for leadership and sufficient ones.

For instance, in war, it is necessary to know the capabilities of your enemy and th...

Titles and trust

Title based leaders feel everyone will fall in line because of their title. They think they are leading because they are in charge. 

But a necessary condition for leadership is trust, not a title. You have to earn trust.

Legitimacy

One of the sufficient conditions of leadership is legitimacy. But titles do not confer legitimacy.

If your team, organization, or country doesn't view you as legitimate, you will have a tough time getting anything done.

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Two strategies

When it comes to setting strategy, there are benefits to both popular and loner strategies.

  • Popular strategies are those that are identified by the crowds. The more people that ch...
Outperforming the crowd

If you want to outperform the crowd, learn the following two essential skills.

  • Generate ideas by broadening your decision frame.
  • You must be able to distinguish between good and bad loner strategies. It is best done by embracing critical thinking.
Broadening the Frame

When we need to make a decision, we tend to ask "What should we do?" However, it narrows our thinking to one right decision.

If we ask the question: "What could we do?"  it broadens our decision-making frame, because we can consider multiple futures. Could ask what if, what else, and why not.

For example: Ask what would be the equivalent in your industry of something that’s working well in another.

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