Bodybuilding works in a simple way. You repeatedly exercise with weight and if you do it enough times (quite many) then your muscle will get bigger and stronger.
If you stop doing it, your muscle gets smaller and weaker.
Same is valid also for muscles that are not visible.
My best friend graduated Harvard MBA. In two years they went through 500 case studies. All of them you had to read, analyze, discuss in your study group and then discuss and solve in class. Why did they do it?
The idea is very simple, by doing this you practice various things like: discipline, analysis, negotiation, leadership, strategic thinking, decision making etc.
All these things you can consider to be your “invisible muscles”.
By doing this 500 times in two years those invisible muscles will grow stronger and bigger. So then when you enter real life after school you’re ready to make decisions, negotiate, lead… you name it.
And it’s all because you practiced your invisible muscles day in day out.
Let me give you couple specific examples on some invisible muscles and how to develop them.
Decision making is one of the muscles you need all the time, both in business and in life. You can grow it and make it stronger by simply making decisions. It doesn’t matter if it is small decision (what will I have for bfast) or big one (should I buy this house?). Start practicing on small decisions. Give yourself time limit for decision (30 sec max) and once you decide stick with it and don’t come back to it. Then move on to bigger decisions. Those will be much easier as your decision making muscle will be much stronger by now.
Definitely one of the most important skills of a leader. And a good partner while we’re at it. Practice it. Turn it into habit. Make commitment to praise minimum one person every day. It can be anything from nice shirt they wear today to great job acquiring a new client. One very important thing here is – mean it. Don’t do it just for sake of exercise. Look for something that you really like. After couple weeks you will start praising people without even thinking about it.
Taking the opportunities
Maybe you have seen movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1068680/) where character he plays challenges himself to say “yes” to everything that will come in his way. Basically what he does, he is practicing the muscle for taking the opportunities (his decision making muscle on autopilot). You may not need this exercise to such extreme, but just think about how many times you said “no” while you actually wanted to say “yes”.
To make it safer, start with small things. “Hey, would you like to join us for dinner tonight, we have some people coming over?” “Oh, thanks but I feel bit tired and don’t like to go to parties where I don’t know anybody”. Really??? Missed chance for great evening and getting to know somebody who might inspire, teach, help you.
Think about which of your invisible muscles are weak or hold you back from what you want to achieve in life. Then start to work on them. Do as many repetitions as needed to develop those muscles. Learn from bodybuilding.
Don’t work on all muscles at the same time. Focus on few of them in one exercise. Don’t forget it takes sustained and repeated effort. Muscles including invisible ones grow over time and with number of repetitions.