If you want to continue to perform at peak levels, inspire others and become a thought leader in your field, you need to become a consummate learner. As soon as you think you know everything, that's the precise moment you're screwed.
But let's not kid ourselves. Whether you're running two businesses or attempting to start your first, finding time to acquire the knowledge and skills you need to remain at the forefront of your industry can be incredibly challenging. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, one of history's most illustrious conquerors may have a trick up his sleeve that could help you dramatically increase your productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.
His name is Genghis Khan, and he's the legendary founder of the Mongol Empire -- the largest empire by land mass in recorded history. While his mythical status as a bloodthirsty barbarian conqueror has pervaded the Western psyche for generations, Khan was actually one of the most intelligent, shrewd military leaders history has ever seen.
Behind his unlikely success lies 3 simple techniques that you can use to create an immediate impact in your business. So, together, let's explore what made this man one of the most consummate students of the strategy the world has ever seen.
1. Mastery and Learning
It may seem somewhat self-evident, but in order to become an intelligent leader, you must possess an open-approach to learning. This means setting your ego aside, practicing humility and remaining open to new ideas, viewpoints and opinions. This very notion is the linchpin behind Khan's vast success. He wasn't born a prodigy; rather, as one biographer noted, Khan possessed "a persistent cycle of pragmatic learning, experimental adaption and constant revision driven by his uniquely disciplined and focused will."
So the first step to becoming a master of a subject is to master your ego, and realize that knowledge comes from being open-minded.Those who operate from a place of arrogance or inflated ego shut themselves off from growth. When you're running a business, you need to remember that no matter how experienced you are, there's always more to learn.
2. Diversity and Flexibility
The Mongol Empire was famed for being a melting pot of culture. In fact, Khan actively sought to learn from other nations he conquered, taking the best of each to incorporate into his own ruling principles. He studied and mastered their techniques, tools and strategies, which enabled him to conquer cities more efficiently than any other Mongol leader before him.
Think of it this way: the more knowledge and ideas you consume, the more fit you'll be to take on and overcome new challenges and experiences. Remember, the best leaders are extremely successful because of their ability to learn, grow and adapt.
As we progress in our careers, we're all faced with new challenges and situations. As Ryan Holiday, author of Ego Is The Enemy says, "The founder must learn how to delegate. The writer, how to edit others. The comedian, how to act. The salesman, how to manage."
Take a leaf out of Khan's book and become a master of many arts. Remember, technology has completely removed the barrier to information. Read inspiring books, listen to new podcasts, attend conferences in slightly different industries, travel to new countries, meet new people, brainstorm with your colleagues, or even learn a different language. Do whatever it takes to adapt and become a more diverse person (and subsequently a more effective leader).
3. Laser-Sharp Focus
Many Westerners see Khan as nothing more than a ruthless barbarian conqueror, but the primary evidence and source material suggests otherwise. In fact, most historians agree that a large degree of Genghis Khan's success stemmed from his laser-sharp vision and focus.
So what can we take from this final piece of the puzzle? Well, first, we need to be careful about what we're focusing on. As Tony Robbins says, "Where focus goes, energy flows." This is both an incredibly powerful truth and a potentially devastating one. Remember, if you're focusing all your attention on lack of money, resources or ideas, you're going to attract more of the same. Use your energy efficiently and focus on what you want your outcome to be.
Next, apply a laser-like focus to your vision and go to any lengths necessary to achieve your goals. Just as Khan became ruler of the largest empire the world has ever seen, so to can you smash your business targets and become the leader you've always wanted to be.
Harness your passions into specific goals and you'll be amazed at the results.