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Ideas from Nihar – December Edition: “Three Tips and Related Books to Have Your Best Year in 2020”

As I reflected on what to curate for the December Edition of this idea series, it seemed only natural to look toward the future.

In a few weeks, we are entering not only a new year, but a new decade, and this transition presents both extraordinary opportunities and unique challenges.

Here’s what I’m discussing with my executive coaching clients, and I hope it’s useful for you.


Become Future-Proof in 2020

If the future is uncertain – with respect to our careers, the teams we lead, the cultures we work in and the businesses we lead – how should we navigate it?

My suggestion is we try to become future-proof, by recognizing what we can control amidst the volatility around us and how we develop personal and interpersonal adaptability.

My latest article for Forbes provides ideas, inspired by attending Thinkers 50 in London a few weeks ago, where I met many of the top thought leaders in the world and share lessons learned from them.

Check out some of their best books, recommended in the article for some holiday reading and preparation for a successful 2020.

How to Become Future-Proof: Lessons From My Experience at Thinkers 50


Go for Process over Outcomes for Success in 2020

I’m a huge fan of director Martin Scorsese and having just watched his latest epic, The Irishman, I continue to be in awe of his stamina, passion and fidelity to his work. At 77 years old, with a career spanning over 50 years, he still always has projects in the pipeline. (I’m hoping he finally gets to the Sinatra biopic he has been talking about for awhile now).

The Irishman was in “development hell” for years and then took 5 years to make after it was announced. At the same time, Scorsese is an avid producer for other filmmakers and while on the awards circuit for this movie, he’s already slated to begin production on his next one, Killers of the Flower Moon in March 2020, which is rumored to have roles for Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, two of his longtime collaborators.

What can we learn from Scorsese’s future-oriented focus?

It’s one thing to have a relentless work ethic, but quite another to continually invest in the future even when there is clearly nothing left for him to prove or “win.” Perhaps he has mastered the lesson of focusing on process over outcomes; that if you do the work, good things will follow.

Two books I often recommend to my clients that reinforce this theme are The War of Art and Do the Work by Steven Pressfield.

Think of your career as one where you fight internal resistance just to have the privilege to bring your gifts to the world.

Many filmmakers say that when they make a film – given the immense risk and uncertainty about how it will be received – they are only focused on doing a good enough job that they get to make another one after this.

They don’t focus on fame, or glory or money or even validation; just the possible invitation to do one more. And before you know it you have a beautiful body of work.

So what process or habit or system will you commit to doing in the new year, that will eventually get you closer to your masterpiece?


Stop, Look and Learn in 2020

The #1 most common word I hear from clients when I ask them how they’re doing is – you guessed it – “busy.” I get it. We’re all busy, all the time, and it never seems to end. Or maybe it’s just our habit to say that so people don’t hijack our time. Either way, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m sure you know that unless you change how you work and manage life, things will stay the same and only get busier. This, of course, isn’t completely bad; being busy gives us momentum and motivation. That is until it doesn’t.

So I want to offer a few ideas to practice in 2020 which I think will help you recognize that being busy isn’t the issue; it’s what you’re busy doing that is the potential problem.

Are you busy working on things you shouldn’t be doing anymore? Are you being busy to avoid things you could be doing for your future success?

The first step is to Stop.

Really stop yourself in your tracks and notice that the world isn’t going to end because you took a break. In fact, it’s in the quiet moments that true results emerge. Just as music requires silence in moments to stand apart from simple sound, we need moments of stillness for true greatness. Ryan Holiday’s newest book Stillness is the Key is worth checking out for more on this important step.

Then when you have taken time to stop and look around for a bit, considering ways you can adapt to your schedule or the burdens on your calendar, it’s worth making time to Learn.

And I don’t mean just learning about what’s next on your calendar, I mean deliberate, active learning that shifts you to a new plane of skills and valued contribution.

I highly recommend Ultralearning by Scott Young to gather strategies around cultivating capabilities that will future-proof you and catapult you into higher levels of success in 2020 and beyond.

Don’t let your career and current responsibilities deceive you into thinking you have learned everything you need to be happy and fulfilled. You have more to offer and more to absorb, and this book helps to capture that internal growth quickly

Until the new year, and wishing you the happiest of holidays!


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