Living the Dream
What do you find easier – dreaming big, or finding a way to make those dreams come true? Most of us have more difficulty with the latter. If you don’t, you may not be dreaming big enough. I remember a time when one of my clients and I were musing about what makes realizing those dreams and visions so difficult. We felt that the toughest part is connecting the vision to reality: Identifying and executing the steps that must be taken to get from here to there.
For years, I was convinced that having a vision and goals meant perceiving a clear and specific picture of what was to come and creating a plan that would ensure that certain milestones were met at designated intervals. I was taught that goals had to be specific, measurable, and time bound (and have spent a good part of my career teaching others the same). I would spend a significant amount of time wordsmithing these goals and creating something similar to a detailed project plan as though I could bend reality to my will. And then life would happen and I’d get exceedingly frustrated when things didn’t fall into place the way I had planned.
The part of us that wants to identify a course of action that mitigates risk and controls all the variables is akin to a manager, whose responsibility is to plan, direct, organize, and control. The challenge is that preconceived ideas of what must be and all that has to happen to bring it to fruition can never take into account all the unexpected twists and turns that each day throws at us. So, the manager in each of us needs to take its orders from a higher authority.
This higher authority is our inner leader. The leader lives in the present, takes its cues from its inner and outer environment, and speaks to the hearts as well as the heads of its people. It is often that part of us that rises up and recognizes when we must make a change in course in order to realize our greater visions. It blends concrete data with intuitive hunches and moves much more fluidly.
The manager in each of us often wants to fix things and tends to place more attention on what is wrong than what is right. It is so concerned with problems that it has a way of identifying with them and unwittingly propagating them. The manager would have us set goals about the behaviors we want to stop, and the things about ourselves that aren’t good enough. These goals almost always fail because they lead us to identify with the very state we wish to rise above. We enter into them from a state of lack, and though our behaviors may temporarily change in accordance with detailed plans we have outlined for ourselves, our thoughts about who we are and what’s wrong keep us tethered and ultimately lead us to act in ways that reinforce old habits and patterns.
The leader focuses on possibilities and speaks to that part of ourselves and others that has the capability and potential to achieve it. It sees through the eyes of someone who has already realized their goals and visions rather than identifying with the experience of not having been able to do something in the past. The leader in each of us knows that action follows thought and invests time in identifying limiting beliefs and trading them for something more empowering. Rather than moving away from an undesirable place, it focuses on moving toward that which it desires to create.
With the leader in charge, the manager’s willfulness is balanced with willingness – willingness to change and adapt even the best laid plans, to reach higher, and to trust that something greater than ourselves will help us get where we most need to go.
Implications for Real Leaders
The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.
To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.