Thinking on Your Feet – A Necessary Skill

Entrepreneurs need to be able to think on their feet. The job requires them judge situations, make decisions, execute plans of actions, evaluate progress, make adjustments, and learn from their mistakes often in a highly limited amount of time. While slow and steady may seem more comfortable, in the world of business quick thinking and speedy action is often what’s needed to grasp success.


Being capable of thinking on your feet and performing accordingly is a valuable ability in business, where the pace of change seems to be ever accelerating. How can you develop this vital skill? Consider these suggestions:


1. Allocate time to thinking
Block off time in your schedule based on when you’re the most alert and creative. Then give yourself 15-30 minutes to focus on one project that has hit a roadblock and could use a creative solution. Generate as many ideas as possible. When time is up, go back through your thoughts and highlight the solutions that are viable and actionable.


2. Apply Pareto’s Principle (aka the “80/20 Rule”) to most of your actions
The 80/20 rule claims that only about 20% of any given thing is vital and 80% is irrelevant. Practice focusing on the 20% of information that is important while avoiding the filler, then make sure your actions are useful and driven instead of busy work.


3. Work on your public speaking/conversation skills
Few things force you to think on your feet like interacting with your fellow humans. People can be unpredictable and often what you thought was going to be a straightforward conversation or presentation can veer off in unforeseen ways. Embrace opportunities to improve your mental flexibility and reaction time when people push you by posing unexpected questions or challenging your statements.


4. Adopt a bias for action
Thinking fast is a great skill, but you want to be sure that you’re following through with action. Once you’ve generated new ideas, set goals, begin work, and keep moving forward. Thought without action means no progress!


Strengthening your ability to think on your feet takes practice, but the suggestions above can help you start enhancing this important skill. Ready…set…go!

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