What High Performers Do When Things Get Tough

Business is now about having rich conversations with global audiences. Here are four winning attitudes for success at a time of great change.

By Dan Waldschmidt • Apr 11, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The last decade of entrepreneurship has taken place within a rapidly changing environment of growth, struggle, triumph and confusion. The cornerstones relied upon in the past for small business stability and growth have crumbled, leaving an expensive hodgepodge of misguided efforts and bipolar business strategies.

Fundamentally, sales and marketing behaviors are no longer the same. Technology changes have made accurate access to complex business answers easier than ever. Data systems are faster and more people have smarter phones with faster access to the internet. Things we used to wonder about are now quickly answered by an audio search on Google. Business is no longer about having inside access to sales information.

Related: Be Trendy. Understand Where Your Business Fits In.

Social changes make it easier than ever to build and maintain relationships that matter. External boundaries such as time zones, location and means of communication have rapidly evolved. People can now share pictures, video, quick thoughts or even their current location with thousands of individuals with just a few clicks of a button. Business is now about rich conversations with an audience all over the world

These changes are here to stay. You can talk all you want about the "good old days" but don't fool yourself. The old ways of doing business just don't work anymore. Which is why many businesses are struggling right now.

The experts all too often tell you about what used to work, which can leave you all the more confused and frustrated. If you're like a lot of entrepreneurs, you're not entirely sure what to do. That's frustrating -- not knowing how to drive business growth.

It's scary to see what you've built threatened by something you can't change.

But the answer isn't as far away as you might think. Over four years while examining 1,000 high performers across business, math, science, politics and sports, my company uncovered four distinct qualities that successful entrepreneurs harness in times of confusion or change.

We looked for common character traits or personality trends to clarify why they were successful over their competitors in a given industry. It came down to four philosophies and a different way of looking at the world around them:

Related: Challenge Assumptions. Don't Be Afraid of Taking a Different Tack.

These four attitudes can help you adapt your existing methodologies and strategies for the changes happening in the business environment around you:

1. High performers understand that radical results demand extreme behavior. They don't mind being extreme. Toppling a dictator is hard work. It takes sacrifice, intention and raw emotion. The same extreme behavior that can overthrow a government can help you overtake competitors in your industry.

But doing a little more isn't enough. You need to do a heck of a lot more. Remember that at your next off-site planning session. Being extreme is a winning strategy -- not wacky.

2. High performers understand that discipline looks a lot like insanity along the way. They are disciplined. The tactics that used to work after two or three tries now take 10 to 15 attempts. Sticking with it has never been more important than right now. In a society where access to answers is just a smartphone away, you have to be tireless in your execution and consistent in how you change perceptions around you.

Just because everyone around you is telling you to be reasonable, get a real job or listen to the data doesn't mean that they are right. Success always looks like failure until it doesn't.

Related: 9 Lessons You Won't Learn in Business School

3. High performers believe that giving more value is strength not a sign of weakness. They have a giving mind-set. Kindness is so rare that when we see it, we are moved at a deeply personal level. Giving value beyond what people have paid for is a way for you to reposition your company amid the confusing marketing in your industry. It creates an experience your customers won't forget.

Being unforgettable is the best way to earn increased wallet share from consumers. It's the answer to better prospect engagement and sticky marketing measures It starts with your giving a lot more than those around you expect.

4. High performers know that the more logical things appear to be the less they really are. These leaders have a human strategy. Information isn't what is important. People are much more than names and numbers on a spreadsheet. To be truly effective, you have to pull at the human heart strings. You have to be emotionally intelligent. You have to be able to read between the lines.

The same irrational behavior that you find inexcusable in others is the default wiring for how you make all your decisions. You're no different. Understanding that humanity is a powerful force for connection and relationship.

Face it: The rules have changed. Business is different now. You can try to fight it and continue to struggle or you can invest in others and take advantage of an environment that is ready for heroes like you to emerge. Confusion is a choice. Choose to be amazing. Be extreme, disciplined, giving and human.

Dan Waldschmidt
Dan Waldschmidt is an international business strategist, speaker, author and extreme athlete. His consulting firm, Waldschmidt Partners, solves complex marketing and business strategy problems for companies around the world. He is the author of Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Achieve Outrageous Success. 

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