Toolbox

Making things happen

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My gift, my superpower, has always been the capability to make things happen. At 17, I wanted to live in New York City. At 20, I decided I was going to France. At 26, I joined IBM as a temporary secretary, convinced I would do more. At 42, I decided I was going to be an executive. And I did all those things and more. The truth however is, it’s not really a superpower. Making things happen is something everyone can do.

Believe in yourself

All my life, people have told me what I could and couldn’t do. And I have ignored them copiously. Each person has a unique perspective on the world. Some are narrow and constrained, others are broad and wide open. Alas and hallelujah, what you believe directly impacts what you are capable of. What I believe is that anything is possible if you are willing to pay the price. Emerson said “What will you have? quoth God : pay for it and take it.” Step one is to simply believe this is true.

Dream big

A direct extension of believing in yourself is the ability to dream big. To dream big, you have to let go of all the endless permutations of destiny which could lead to failure. Some dreams never take off because we squash them with doubts and imagined barriers. We tell ourselves “I can’t do that” and that’s the end of that, we don’t even allow ourselves to dream it. Imagine, just for a moment, that you CAN do that. Imagine yourself doing it – how you would feel, how it would change your life. Bask in that feeling for a moment.

Decide, with confidence, you’re going to do it

At some point, you need to decide that you are going to do this. Weighing the pros and cons, the potential hurdles, the unknowns becomes useless at some point. You will never know everything that stands between you and your dream. You have to start. If your heart is all in, if you’re ready to pay the price, whatever it is, it’s time to just decide. You’re going to do it.

Tell people

Now, don’t be shy, tell people about your decision. Your family, your friends, even strangers you meet along the way. Sharing your dream and intentions serves two purposes. The first is creating accountability. By tell others your intentions, you bolster your own intentions about the decision and create accountability. Turning back will require telling people you changed your mind. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, but we feel more inclined to deliver on promises and can be more motivated to make them happen. The second purpose is that sharing your dream and goal can open doors you never thought possible.  Every person you meet is a potential ally, may be the keeper of a key you can’t see or know about until it has unlocked a door.

Keep your eyes and ears open

The world conspires with you when you are paying attention. No matter what you are paying attention to. It never fails to amaze me that when I have made an important decision, I start noticing possibilities all around me. When I decided to go to France, I got a school newsletter that announced a scholarship for international studies the very same day. The day before, I might have received the very same newsletter and not noticed the scholarship. Possibilities ARE everywhere. We just aren’t always paying attention for them.

Take action - Think, plan, do, adjust

Build a plan. Reaching big dreams can take time, and there can be major milestones along the way which have to be met. Think about the steps you need to take to be successful. Plan them out and start doing them. Don’t be surprised that once you start doing things, your plan may change. Frankly, once you start doing things and taking steps towards your dream, even your dream and your ultimate vision can change. That’s ok. Think, plan, do and adjust. Repeat again and again and again.

Accept that sometimes you will fail

There are many pathways to take to get to any final destination. Some of the roads you go down will be dead ends. Things will not turn out the way you hoped or planned. And that’s ok. Learn from these things and store the lessons away to serve you the rest of your life. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes, so embrace it. Backtrack and pick a new path and continue along the way.

Celebrate

In long journeys, there are many defeats and victories. No accomplishment along the way is too small to celebrate. Take a moment when you achieve a step in the right direction to recognize the effort it took you to get that far. Do a happy dance. Give yourself a pat on the back. For major milestones, treat yourself and invite others to celebrate with you.

My dream today is this blog, this new coaching and training business, this new direction in life which sometimes seems like it is taking off and others seems like it is stuck down in the mud. But I know I will find a way. I am finding it every day.

You are what you think

We all have a voice in our head. For many people that voice rarely stops. That voice, our automatic thoughts, impact everything we do. Some thoughts we govern. We set our minds to something. But most of our thoughts are automatic – they pop up spontaneously without our conscious prompting. Buddha said, “We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts.  With our thoughts we make our world.”

Are you sure? The difference between fact and opinion

Think back to some of the most heated arguments you have had or witnessed. What was being discussed?  Politics and religion are often at the foundation of some of the most virulent arguments I have seen. How often during these arguments does anyone acknowledge the difference between fact and opinion?

Breaking negative thinking patterns

If you are sick and tired of being stressed and frustrated, it may be time to take a look at how negative thinking patterns are impacting you. Many things in our lives are out of our span of control. But your thoughts are within your control. We sap our energy and enthusiasm daily with these negative thinking patterns. Let’s look at a few of the most common negative thinking patterns and how to quickly break them.

Influencing without Authority

Over the years, I have worked many complex, cross organizational, cross discipline projects which required influencing without authority. I learned many lessons – both from making mistakes and from applying some sound principles to my work ethic. In this blog series, I’ll be exploring what I consider the core elements of influence as well as some thoughts about creating a shared sense of urgency, which is critical to successful projects.