When you hear the phrase “World Class,” what comes to mind? Who do you consider to be “World Class”? Professional athletes like Michael Phelps? Or maybe a Jeff Bezos? What makes them “World Class”?

At Solutions 21, we have researched and studied World-Class Performers for over ten years and know that all World-Class Performers (WCP) have nine behaviors that set them apart. These behaviors are:

  • Use Performance Feedback or “game film.”
  • Turn unconscious, negative tendencies into conscious, positive choices.
  • Practice energy management.
  • Realize that what is required for improvement may be counterintuitive.
  • Develop a clear vision.
  • Seek out a coach or mentor.
  • Develop a tactical and measurable action plan.
  • Get over losses/failures quickly.
  • Use positive self-talk.

Looking at that list can be overwhelming and exhausting, but you must believe that you, too, can be world-class. To thrive as a 21st-century leader, you must have a Clear Vision, Develop a Measurable Action Plan (MAP), and seek a guide (Coaches and Mentors).  

Clear Personal Vision

World-Class Performers can see things long before others can. What can you see in the future that others cannot? Having an envisioned future is the impetus required for action and sustained success. Without it, you have nowhere to go and no passion fueling your desires.

Take time to write down what your world will look like in 2026. How would you describe what this world looks like? What parts of your life have changed? What are the symbols of your achievement? Don’t put any boundaries or biases in the way; just write specific details about what you want to envision. Print out pictures that will help you envision that future and provide motivation when you lack it. Then share it with others that can hold you accountable. Post it where you can see and read it daily or weekly. Talk about it as if it is just a matter of time before it is realized. Then watch your confidence grow as you take appropriate and timely actions to ensure your success.  

Measurable Action Plan (MAP)

Now that you have a clear personal vision, it’s time to develop a “MAP” for the journey that lies ahead. Too often, leaders have a grandiose vision and ideas for the future but stop there without putting thought to paper or taking immediate action to realize their future dreams. Months and years go by, leaving them no closer to their envisioned future than when they first thought about it. The key in this step is to break down your big vision into manageable goals and steps over a period of time. Let’s continue with our Vision 2026 example: You’ve laid out what your life will be in five years and now are ready to break those down into bite-size chunks. What are your top five big picture goals? What categories would they fall into (i.e., family, career, health, wealth, etc.)?  

Now that you have big picture goals into specific categories, it’s time to develop your SMARTER Goals. SMARTER is an easy-to-follow acronym to ensure you have actionable goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timed, Energy, and Resources. Break down your five-year big picture goals into year-long increments. From there, again, break those year-long goals into quarterly increments, then month-long and week-long increments. This ensures you are taking consistent steps each week, month, and quarter to achieve your annual goals. It provides an easy-to-establish-and-follow MAP for your weekly activities.

You have a vision for 2026, a MAP that provides a way to your envisioned future, and now you need a guide to take you along that path.

Guide (Coaches or Mentors)

You’ve heard the adage, “Practice makes perfect,” but we prefer to say, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” So, what is required for you to ensure you have “perfect practice” with your vision and MAP? World-Class Performers know they can’t achieve anything significant alone and seek out coaches and mentors! What’s the difference?

Coaches don’t necessarily have to be experts in your area of improvement. Coaches seek to help you find the challenges and “guide” you along by asking the right questions. They help you find solutions to your envisioned future and goals.

Mentors, on the other hand, have a more personal aspect to them. Most mentors are experts in what you seek from them and are there to encourage you as you go along your path. The key is that WCPs surround themselves with both coaches and mentors, balancing their feedback for maximum improved performance.

The successful businessman and millionaire Darren Hardy once said, “If you are not making the progress that you would like to make and are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined.” I would agree and add that you need a clearly defined personal vision and to seek out coaches and mentors’ expertise and experience. What’s your personal vision for 2026? Do you have a MAP with a route to success? Who are the coaches and/or mentors that can guide you along the MAP route to success? If you are unsure of where to begin, the method outlined above can get you started.