Archive for August, 2012

Earlier this week, I shared a post about making an intentional plan to make your dreams a reality. As this is not a shallow subject, I wanted to revisit it.

Another of my mentors, Scott M. Fay (also faculty on the John Maxwell Team), owns a landscaping business. He says that people often ask, ‘when is the best time to plant a shade tree?’ His answer: 50 years ago! The second best time to plant a shade tree is today!

So, when is the best time to develop a personal growth plan — one that will allow you to achieve your dreams, and maximize your potential — well, probably a number of years ago, like in Junior High or High School, perhaps. Unless you are like Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties, most people aren’t that focused that early. So, the good news is, it’s not too late to map your plan now. In fact, if you don’t already have one, today is the best day to get started.

Getting Started
Again, this is a significant undertaking, and it’s very important; after all, it’s only your LIFE we are talking about! Take the time to think about what you really want from life; think in terms of family, health, fun, education, finance, travel, career…and define what success looks like for you. Then you can begin to map the steps you need to take along the way to reach your goal. Break it down in chunks; make the steps achievable within a reasonable amount of time.

Another critical step is really knowing yourself. Be honest about your strengths and shortcomings. You don’t have to share any of your insights, if you choose not to, but you need to be aware that the people closest to you are probably already very in-tune with them. The key is your own self-awareness. This allows you to know what you will be able to do on your own and what you will need to get support for. Remember, the people in your life — both current and some you haven’t yet met — are part of the resources you may need along your journey.

Be brave! Share your vision and your plans and ask for help. As I said, you’ll be amazed at how doors open for you. I speak from experience here. Several months ago, I wanted to start a Mastermind Group to study John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I knew a few people who might be interested but not enough to fill a class, and I had no space in which to hold a weekly, 10-week session. I shared my vision with a couple of people. They were interested in participating, and recommended contacting another acquaintance who might have the meeting space. The third person not only offered the meeting space (“I’ll give you a key to the building; use the conference room any time you like…”), but he also filled the rest of the class! And it was a great experience for everyone involved. What an unexpected blessing!

Be open. Be open to new experiences, new lessons, new people.

Be grateful. Be grateful for what you already have, for the people already in your life, and the skills and talents you already possess. Be grateful for the opportunities that will surface, allowing you to learn and grow and experience new things.

Be intentional. Again, if you don’t map your plan, you will go along with the current and will someday find yourself a long way from where you want to be. This is a journey, a process…it will happen daily, not in a day.

Hope is a good thing. But it isn’t a strategy. It won’t drive you to success. You must take action.

Get started. It’s that simple. If you can see the first step, take it. Subsequent steps will become obvious to you as you move along. Again, the resources will become available as you need them.

If you have to, do it afraid! You’ll be glad you did.

What steps are you taking today to map out your plan and begin your journey?

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Last night I was doing a little shopping. As I was making one of my purchases, the sales person asked me where I was from. I responded that while I live in West Virginia now, I am from Washington State. Unexpectedly, his eyes lit up and he asked where I had lived, claiming his dream was to move to Seattle…someday.

Make a plan, I said. Hope is not a strategy. Make a plan.

Do you have a dream? Do you have a goal you want to achieve…someday? What are you doing to make it your reality?

Here’s the thing…if you don’t make a plan, your plan, life has a way of making one for you. Or rather, life happens and it doesn’t always lead you where you want to go. People in your life will guide you in the directions they want you to go, which may be fun, interesting, adventurous even, but maybe not where you want to go.

How do you take control? It’s simple, really, but maybe not easy!

Make taking time out for reflection a priority, every day. Take the time to think about what you want from life, then map out a plan to achieve it. Then, of course, you must take the steps required to actually put your plan into action and start moving toward your dream.

You don’t have to see your whole dream in every detail, but if you can see enough of it to see the first couple of steps with clarity, it’s time to get moving. Don’t worry that you can’t see every step or whether you have all the resources you think you need to get there…just get started.

Do it afraid!

It’s amazing what will happen once you start. If you are truly passionate about what you’re doing, committed to making it happen, and tell people about your journey, you will be amazed at the people who step up to support you. You will get what you need along the way — whether it’s people, knowledge, a new skill, or any number of other kinds of resources.

But if you do nothing but hope, you will wake up one morning some years down the road and ask yourself, “How did I get here?” noting that where you ended up is not where you wanted to be. (Yes, Kyle from the Mac Store, this is for you! I will be watching for my postcard from your new home in Seattle.)

As my mentor, Paul Martinelli, says, “Do the thing, and you will get the energy to do the thing.”

Hope is not a strategy. Make a plan. The best day to get started is today.

What is your dream? What are you doing to make it your reality?

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I have loved to write for as long as I can remember. I remember dreaming of stacks of beautiful, crisp, clean white paper and a nice pen (oh, yes — a nice pen is critical. Ask anyone who loves to write, and those who write long-hand are very particular about the kind of pen they need to be fully present in their writing, open to creativity, and able to fully channel those words and thoughts to paper) and uninterrupted time to write.

I’ve made my living for 20+ years as a communicator for a variety of companies in a variety of industries, and much of that work involved writing; “putting words in a row,” as a dear friend describes it.

I have always believed words were important. Remember the saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” How wrong that is. Words are powerful. They can change our lives. They can change the world.

“Words matter. Write to learn what you know.” This is a saying on a card given to me by my aforementioned friend. For years, I kept that card on my bulletin board. At some point, it was packed away for a move. I have yet to unpack it, but the physical card isn’t as important now; the words are imprinted on my mind and I remember them daily.

For years, I have used writing as a channel for other people’s messages; in a sense, in the corporate world I have functioned as something of a ghostwriter for a number of my colleagues. Recently, I have been called to fully live my purpose — change the world by adding value to others — which demands that I step out into the world with my own voice, to share with you my passion, my purpose, my thoughts, my experiences, and my questions.

This is why, today — on the 14th of August, 2012 — I invite you to join me on my journey. Welcome to Leadership & Life Potential. Welcome to LauraLines. Welcome to this exciting, energizing, thought-provoking conversation. I hope you will join the conversation and come back often; I promise to be here with new thoughts at least weekly. I intend to write to learn what I know, and further explore thoughts and ideas related to passion, purpose, personal growth, communication, and leadership.

Together let’s change the world with powerful words.

What are you writing, and what are you learning about yourself through the process?

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