03/09/2011 12:50 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

When Your Great Isn't Good Enough Anymore, Then What?

You have something great and want to make it greater.

Maintaining the current approach hides our ability to foresee what's coming next, costing us the ability to discern from what in our current environment may be holding us back. The status quo is where we feel safe. So how do we maintain the status quo and move ahead? You can't. You have to stop being seduced by your current story. To develop the ability to see ahead of the curve, you need a new story.

Here's how you start: Take a minute to think about the last time an opportunity showed up that was unexpected. Something incredible that fell into your lap right out of the blue. Got it?

That is a great example of all the possibilities out there for you that we really have no knowledge of. We do not know what all the possibilities are. And if we believe that we have no knowledge of that, can we also agree that we really don't know what we don't know. And from that perspective, that acknowledgement in itself can change how we perceive what's coming around the corner, so we can create a new story.

My story was I had built a $24-million company from scratch in Manhattan -- where the biggest dogs eat the bigger dogs -- pioneering new thinking in one of the toughest industries there is: advertising. I was a success. That was my story. It was time to let it go and move onto my next success story. And it was hard. Why? Because I had become my story. And I didn't know who I was without it.

It's deceptively easy to be seduced by our stories, to become defined by them. They're safe havens for us, and we work hard to create that safety. The moral of our stories create our toolkits. So what happens when our tools no longer work? First, we attempt to use the old tools even when we know they are not going to work. When we are absolutely convinced that our tools are not working, we scour our old stories meticulously to see if there are any tools we might have missed. We pray and hope for something that we may have missed. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am here to tell you once and for all that old stories do not create new tools. New stories create new tools. And the only way to get new tools is to let go of the old ones. There's no point in secretly keeping an old tool or two around. Here's why: When you are facing something unfamiliar, you reach for what has worked in the past. When that doesn't work, then you attempt to create something new -- based on what you already know to be true. And that doesn't work when what you believe to be true is no longer true. You have to let go of your old story completely and not depend on that story to create any tools. You want to create new tools based on old assumptions, and those assumptions are not true any more. That's why the old tools no longer work, and new tools have to be brought in. Mastering emotional agility allows you to get ahead of the moment so you can create new stories with new tools. But that's another story unto itself.

To step into your new story, start with the questions at hand: What are you willing to let go of to get ahead? Are you willing to let go of your story? Are you willing to let go of your old tools? Are you willing to let go of your assumptions of what used to be true and is no longer true? Here's a good one: Do you know where your threshold is? To find your edge, step slightly out of your comfort zone. And then back up. In that space, you'll get really clear about how much you desire something. Your willingness to go past your comfort zone, your old story, drives how much you want something. And that is what will move you into your new story.

When you know your great isn't good enough anymore, you're ready. You're ready to step over your own threshold and sharpen your edge. The most important question to ask yourself at this point: Are you ready to move from the comfort of your current story to your next big thing?