No matter who you are, you will face some obstacles in your life. Highly successful people overcome these problems by having “enormous amounts of productivity paranoia,” according to best-selling author and leadership expert Jim Collins.
This means thinking about every possible outcome of every decision you make, and taking time to plan and prepare for any potential unexpected setbacks – both in your career and outside of work. Or simply: Be paranoid about future events that might derail you.
“The question is not if bad things will happen, but when,” Collins said last week at the 2023 World Business Forum Summit. “It’s what you do before the storm comes” that determines how well you respond or recover.
Sometimes, production paranoia takes the form of over-preparing for a presentation so you can anticipate every possible question your audience might ask. Or you can study workplace skills that you don’t need in your current job, but may give you a boost when you seek a raise or promotion.
For example, skill in dealing with artificial intelligence platforms could be useful in the future. Eighty-seven percent of U.S. CEOs and executives say they want to hire employees with AI skills, but struggle to find those people, according to a recent survey by online education platform edX.
Constantly thinking about possible futures — whether good or bad — is a type of productivity paranoia that all professionals should feel, Collins said. It’s a message he sticks to, even if people think he’s a little crazy for doing so.
“The last time I was here, people thought I was kind of crazy… because I told everyone, ‘It’s sunny today, but a storm is coming. I don’t know what it is… It’s going to be a storm.’ “Surprise,” he said. “But you better be a megalomaniac, because something bad is sure to happen.”
Just be careful not to overdo it, other experts say: Overthinking “what ifs” can be bad for you. Psychological health. Recognize when you move from “fixed” to “hyper-fixed” on the unknown, and in response, streamline your thinking process again to focus on one challenge at a time.
“You can start small by checking off the important tasks that need to get done first, and then either delay or delegate the rest until you feel less anxious,” New York-based psychotherapist Jenny Mayenba wrote for CNBC Make It last year. “The key is to step back and deal with things one at a time.”
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