How To Be Intentional And Grow Your Future

It’s all about being picky about your past.

Purely from an ambition standpoint, there are two types of entrepreneurs. The difference between the two centers on how they each define their own success. One of them has discovered that tapping into their past with focused intentionality provides the secret to never-ending growth — growth that’s not only easier but exponential. For the other type of entrepreneur, lifetime growth is not a priority.

The Ambition 1 entrepreneur.

The first type of entrepreneur measures their success against markers like income, quality of life, lifestyle, and status — and by most standards would be considered very successful. They work very hard, they’re creative, they’ve dealt with risks along the way, and it might take them 20 or 30 years to achieve their original ambition. Yet, when they get to the point where they’ve achieved all the goals they set out with at the beginning of their career, they’re happy to just maintain. I call them Ambition 1 entrepreneurs.

The Ambition 2 entrepreneur.

The second type of entrepreneur also has an ambition goal starting out, just like the first type of entrepreneurs do. They grow in a very similar way, too, but that’s where the similarity ends. When these entrepreneurs achieve their first level of success, they start again and rise to a level that’s much, much higher than their first level. What everyone else considers successful, they see as stage one on their journey. They can see that they’re just now getting to a point where they can really start to grow — and grow exponentially. These I call Ambition 2 entrepreneurs.

What’s their secret?

“You have to make your past smaller in order to make your future bigger.” #DanSullivan Click To Tweet

When you’ve made a real leap in your performance and results, as these Ambition 2 entrepreneurs have done, you begin to go back in your memory to everything you’ve achieved, stage by stage — and you transform your past. You’re actually making it smaller in order to create your much bigger future: You only zero in on a very particular type of experience.

Try this exercise. Envision your first entrepreneurial endeavor, which might even have been when you were in your teens. Then identify situations after that where you had an intention to be successful in a new way — situations where you organized your thinking, your resources, and your actions, and you followed through. Not only did you achieve what you wanted, you most likely created new opportunities.

In a matter of minutes, you can probably think of 30 or more situations where this was true, including in your personal life. The common thread is that in every successful situation, you were intentional about improving yourself in a particular way to achieve a new and higher level of success. And you were successful because you were very, very clear about what you wanted. I encourage you to write these situations down.

You don’t have to remember 1,000 things from your past to learn. Zero in on just 1 type of situation: successes based on intentionality.

You don’t have to remember 1,000 things from your past to learn.
Zero in on just 1 type of situation: successes based on intentionality.

A smaller past, a bigger future.

As you go through this exercise, something remarkable happens. Your past starts to get smaller. You realize you don’t have to remember a thousand things; you just have to remember one particular type of situation that I’ll call “intentionality success.”

You can use this block of experience to great advantage going forward because each one of these past successes becomes a tool for getting the same type of result in the future — and, remember, now you’re much more experienced, you have a much higher level of skill, and your credibility and connections are much stronger.

Not only growth, but exponential growth.

When you make the decision to go beyond Ambition 1, you open yourself up to become exponentially more successful — all because you’ve done something totally different with your past experience: You’ve taken your entire past and made it smaller, but much more strategically important.

By identifying your intentionality successes, you’re now in a perfect position to use them as raw material for creating your much bigger, much better future.

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