Boomer’s Blueprint: 10X thinking is key to your success

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Success is created and not acquired. Therefore, it is your duty, obligation and responsibility!

Dan Sullivan, Jim Collins, Frans Johannson, Steve Jobs, Carol Dweck, Peter Diamandis, Joe Polish and Grant Cardone have all impacted my thinking over the past 15 years. I was originally trained to think incrementally, rather than exponentially. My challenge has been to leverage this new way of thinking and help the accounting profession transform to sustain success and remain future-ready.

Each person has their own definition of success, but I believe success is an accumulation of events turning out well or achieving desired outcomes. It is also about being able to sustain and, at the same time, be future-ready. Most firm leaders today have experienced success and want to maintain their success. Yet this may be a limiting mindset and, along with emerging technology, limits the individual’s potential to create success and keep it. In other words, your next breath of air is more important than your last.

I learned a similar analogy in my master’s program on inventory. An economics professor said the cost of the next item in inventory (NIFO) is more important than the value of FIFO or LIFO.

10X thinking and actions are critical. Sadly, many people adjust their goals, rather than their commitment of resources to obtain their goals. We all tend to underestimate the amount of time and resources necessary to change or transform a profession. When this happens, the tendency is to “quit” in your mind and voice. A great manager will push their team to do more, rather than reduce the target. They will also find resources to support their team and goals. This requires an “in-it-to-win-it-whatever-it-takes” mindset.

To further clarify success, it depends on where the person is in life and what priorities have their current attention. Entry-level professionals are focused on different goals than leaders who are within five years of retirement. Too often, firms only address the financial aspects of success, yet there are spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, philanthropic, community and family aspects. Wherever you are, in order to have success and keep it, you must believe:

1. Success is important
2. There is no shortage of success (abundance rather than scarcity thinking).
3. Success is your duty, obligation and responsibility (entrepreneurial thinking).

Each of the coaches, authors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders that I mentioned above have continually addressed the importance of mindset and accountability. Personally, I am a big proponent of visioning and strategic planning, yet the majority of accounting firms have neither a documented shared vision nor a strategic game plan. If your firm just thinks competitively, you can believe you are in a better position than you really are. In most firms, the challenge is not competition but rather obscurity and access to larger clients and markets.

The late T. Boone Pickens stated, “A fool with a plan beats a genius with no plan.” The biggest mistakes most firm leaders make are:

  • Setting targets too low and without proper motivation for all stakeholders;
  • Underestimating the resources to accomplish the goals;
  • Competing rather than dominating and becoming thought leaders;
  • Underestimating the potential adversity; and,
  • Not focusing on “who” and holding them accountable.

The tendency is to reduce the goals, rather than commit more resources and hold people accountable. Average won’t cut it in the future. Average is where the best of the worst meets the worst of the best. The level of effort and stress are no different; it just makes for good strategy to think exponentially, rather than incrementally. Action is the key, not analysis and procrastination. The majority of professionals do nothing, retreat, or take what they believe are reasonable steps while the minority commit and take massive action.

By now, some of you are buying into the importance of 10X thinking and some of you are saying we don’t want to be 10 times as large as we are today. Either way, there are significant lessons you can learn from 10X thinking. Even if your goals are 10 percent growth (incremental), rather than 10X (exponential), the thinking is relevant and beneficial. You must think like the firm you want to become, not the firm you were. This is especially challenging in mergers and acquisitions. The lessons are:

1. Challenges and solutions are easier to identify and prioritize with 10X thinking.
2. Place your focus on change and even transformation — strategic priorities.
3. “Who” is responsible and accountable becomes more important than “how.” This will focus you on looking at internal, external and even sourced resources.
4. The plan motivates all stakeholders, regardless of where the person is in life.
5. Leaders focus on the vision, and managers communicate expectations in advance and hold people accountable.

Don’t procrastinate. Schedule time to think, plan and grow.

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