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The 10 Mental Skills Necessary to Become a Strategic Visionary Breaking free of ingrained mental patterns and preconceptions is the first step to seeing what your future can be.

By Sherrie Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Business is strategy. The most successful people in our world are sharp-minded visionaries who know how to get where they want to go and are innovative in their approaches. To be successful you must learn to think strategically in all areas of business. Envisioning strategy requires both the logical and creative parts of your brain. By stretching beyond routine and habitual thinking that keep you running in a hamster wheel you'll make real movement forward towards your desired goals. Strategic thinking is the crucial skill for success.

1. Whole brain thinking.

Think strategically requires you to stretch beyond routine thoughts to contemplate ideas beyond the logic of the left brain. One of the best ways to get beyond your left brain is to distract it with a task like writing. Writing occupies your left brain, which allows your creative, intuitive right brain to be more active. For this reason you should write lists and goals.

Whole brain thinking helps you analyze how to frame a problem, how to evaluate an idea, and how best to use your critical thinking. The left brain thrives on analytical thinking. Once the organizational items of your business are in place your artistic intelligence is free to imagine possibilities for growth and expansion.

2. Create a vision.

A great strategist develops clear and defined personal and business visions. Practice thinking in pictures to visualize your future. Visual mental practices are nearly as effective as actual physical experience. Doing both is what will make you a great strategist.

Mental imagery improves your self-management, perception, planning and memory. Train your brain for performance by using visualization to rehearse actions you will soon take and prepare for the results. These types of visual exercises enhance motivation, increase your confidence and self-awareness. They train your brain for success.

3. Define objectives.

Operational intelligence is key to becoming a great strategist. Operational intelligence encompasses the organizing and planning to take a goal and turn it into an action. It is imperative to use timelines when strategizing around the smaller steps required to achieve your bigger picture. Each small goal will require certain resources be available to stay on task. Strategizing is about planning, being patient and not giving up. Timelines keep your business organized and on task, and with this, chosen strategies are nearly always guaranteed to succeed.

Related: The 3 Most Overlooked Ingredients of Startup Success Are All in Your Head

4. Be flexible.

Great strategists are never rigid in their approach to anything. You must be able to anticipate and cope with the unexpected. Flexibility requires openness and the ability to shift direction whenever necessary. Design objectives around certain benchmarks to accurately measure your progress. Benchmarks and timelines help you know when and how to make revisions. This gives you the ability to be proactive in anticipating change rather than panicking and getting off course when unexpected changes occur.

Business involves change, so when you are flexible you remain teachable-ready and willing to risk routine. You cannot succeed being a one-trick-pony.

5. Intuitive.

The secret weapon of great strategists is they harness their intuitive faculties. To be great you must learn to recognize and interpret your emotions. Emotions plug you into previous patterns and experiences allowing you to better predict the outcome of current decisions. When you can identify what your instincts are pointing you toward, you will be better prepared for your intuition to lead the way. That clarity helps you discern opportunities for you and your business.

6. Students of life.

To be a great strategist you must be invested in constant growth. Willingly commit to being a lifelong learner who creates new thinking patterns from every experience, good and bad. New patterns enable you to react more quickly on your feet. For this reason view all change as positive. Master what works and discard what creates problems or insufficient critical movement toward your goals.

7. Take mental breaks.

To be a great strategic thinker take spaces of time to yourself. Take breaks during the day if you're tired, even if just for a few minutes, or call it a day when you have overworked yourself. Taking time out's helps you refocus and refresh. After breaks your ideas will be more sound and your mental freshness will help you solve problems more quickly and efficiently.

8. Seek advice.

Relational intelligence is a must if you want to strategize well, as success is never the doing of just one person. Be aware of how your ideas impact those in your network. Collaborate to co-create. Be open and committed to seeking advice, guidance and outside suggestions. Make use of mentors, peer advisors, groups for brainstorming business ideas.

Related: Why Collaboration Is Essential to Entrepreneurship

9. Balance.

As you become more strategic in your business approaches, learn to balance your creativity and passion with an optimistic realism for what is achievable in your long term. To be a great strategist you must be clear on how important a sense of realism is in keeping you on course and out of impulsiveness. Creativity requires some trial and error to make an idea solid and usable.

10. Patience.

Strategic thinkers are patient. You cannot rush to conclusions or judgments along your journey. You cannot plant a seed and expect it to flower the next day. Great ideas and thoughts require time to develop into great successes that achieve your visions. Patience, grasshopper. All things need time to marinate into their perfected forms.

The most successful people, businesses and organizations always think ahead. They are flexible yet pointed as they strive forward using timelines and benchmarks to measure progress. To be great you must develop the language and structure for managing creativity and innovation. You must develop creative solutions to your specific challenges along with strategies to overcome and remedy these challenges. You must pay attention to past patterns, negative and positive, as these best predict future successes and failures.

A great strategist realizes that a sustainable future requires much more than self-centered, greedy and too often unethical measures for the short-term successes. A sustainable future requires relational intelligence, operational intelligence, emotional intelligence, artistic intelligence and the ability to adapt quickly to change. You must stay fresh mentally and be quick on your feet, never failing to come up with your next usable and innovative strategy guaranteeing your success.

Related: The Fundamentals of Successful Thinking

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.

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