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The inversion thinking tool

One of the gifts of being a high performer is that you’re future focused. When you’re at A and your goal is to get to B it’s obvious… Do whatever you can to head in the direction of that goal.     

“Faster, bigger, better…” is the message pumped at us every time we go online and it can become an unconscious mantra for success. But straight line thinking isn’t always best.

In fact, slowing down, taking tiny steps, putting action over perfection, staying put, going sideways, or even moving backward can often be the best ways to achieve the success that appears to be directly ahead of us. 

Quality Problems

What most people fail to understand about success is that the more successful you become, the more challenges you will face. And the higher level of success you attain, the higher the levels of challenges you have to handle. 

Quality Problems are high level challenges that if you said them out loud to most people – they’d reply, “I wish I had your problems…” The Olympic athlete who wants to go from silver to gold; the business owner who wants to take their business from 7-figures to 8-figures in revenue, the performer who is nervous about going on stage in front of a crowd of thousands.

To prepare for these kinds of high level challenges, you need to train your mind to be ready for obstacles before they occur.

Your ability to anticipate what could go wrong in the future and handle it before it occurs is a high level leadership skill that will differentiate you from the competition.

The Inversion Thinking Tool

Over 2,000 years ago, the ancient Stoic philosophers developed a powerful tool called Negative Visualization. Its goal was to imagine the negative things that could happen in life—from losing your job to becoming homeless, to suffering an injury, to having your reputation ruined. They believed that by imagining the worst case scenario ahead of time, they could overcome their fears of negative experiences and make better plans to prevent them.

Many of the most successful entrepreneurs today are not the risk-takers we imagine. They are actually experts at mitigating risks. Reflecting on how you will manage failure is an important mindset. Imagining what things would look like if everything went wrong tomorrow helps you prepare today.

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson 

When I trained in Kempo Ju-Jitsu, I would come home covered in bruises. My Sensei was teaching a street self-defense system. He told us that you can do all the high kicks and clever moves you like, but if you’ve never really been hit, you won’t know how to recover when it happens out on the street. He wanted us to know what it felt like to actually get punched and be able to recover in the moment

The Inversion Thinking Tool will help you recover from failure – before it happens.

Great thinkers, leaders, and innovators aren’t afraid to turn their thinking on its head. Great coaches constantly help their clients turn their thinking on its head.

Inversion is counterintuitive because it’s not obvious to spend time thinking about the opposite of what you want. 

The Inversion Thinking Tool will help you go over the things that could go wrong and prevent them from happening by asking: What if the opposite was true? You’ll identify challenges and points of failure so you can develop a plan to prevent them ahead of time.

“If I had only one hour to solve a problem that my life depended on, I would spend the first 55 minutes defining the problem—because once I knew the real problem, I could solve it in the last 5 minutes.” – Albert Einstein

Here are 8 sets of my favorite Inversion Thinking questions:


Imagine your entire business has failed. Every client has gone. Every customer has left. Your community is no more. Your reputation is destroyed. Tell the story of how it happened. What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How did you make it fail?


What if everything goes better than you could imagine? You have ten clients… What if 20 dream clients showed up with a check in their hand? You have 12 people in your group coaching… What if 100 wanted to join? You make 6 figures… What if you made over a million dollars? 

Most people can’t wait to grow their business. But growth can make you very vulnerable. The other side of success isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. I once got a 6-figure tax bill because we’d grown the business faster than I could have imagined. I wasn’t prepared and it took me over three years to pay off that tax bill. 


Imagine the most important goal or project you are working on right now. Now fast forward six months and assume it has completely failed. Tell the story of how it happened. What went wrong? What mistakes did you make? How did it fail?


What would a terrible leader do? How could you be less innovative? How could you be unprepared for massive change in your field? What would make your entire team quit?


What would alienate your dream clients? How could you scare away the community you’ve built? How could you ensure no client ever renews an agreement? How could you constantly struggle to create new clients?


How could you be completely distracted every day? How could you create and encourage constant interruptions? How could you constantly put urgent tasks ahead of important ones? How could you let email and social media run your day?


How could I ruin my marriage? How could I destroy my relationships with my kids? How could I hurt, upset, frustrate my partner? How could I ensure that I never ever have a great relationship?

  1. MONEY

How could I lose all my savings? How could I accumulate massive debt? How could I spend far more than I earn? How could I get huge credit card bills – that only get bigger over time? How could I create regular financial emergencies?

Pick one of these scenarios. Grab a journal, answer the questions and dream a little. Actually, make it a nightmare! Take your clients through this exercise, too. 

In the midst of preparing for disaster are the seeds of an idea for your next level of success… 

Love. Rich 


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