Sometimes in life, we all need a reminder. Even when we’re going down a good path. Yesterday I was having lunch with Jerry, a celebrity photographer and friend. Since he has a natural tendency to inspire people and wants to do some speaking about it, I thought we’d have a case-study to talk about. I asked our server, Cory, who was all of 22 years old, to share with us her life dream. Her big blue eyes smiled. We could see that the question stopped her in her tracks and got her thinking. If I asked you that question, what would you answer?
One of my friends, a workshop leader, asks her participants a similar question. She asks students what their dream looks like and has them clearly visualize it… what it looks like, smells like and feels like. It’s a good exercise. When I asked my friend about her dream, she carefully described each detail of her vision. She even showed us how she could see her husband holding their child. Mind you, she’s not married or pregnant.
When Jerry and I asked Cory what her dream was and what it looked like, she said she didn’t know. She told us she tried to live “in the moment” and not worry about the future. Living in the moment is good, but that’s like having a GPS and never programming in a destination.
We can’t truly live the life we want if we have no direction. Direction, in and of itself, is only a starting point — but without it, we can run in circles. The purpose of the clear direction is to help you make better decisions along the way. When we get to a fork in the road it can be helpful to see which direction is more likely to take us in the direction we want to go. Oftentimes, we make mistakes and bad decisions. That’s OK, too. With a clear goal, we’re more likely to pick up where we went off track and take corrective action.
If you’re following my blog on my “17 Minutes to Your Dream,” you know that I’m writing a screenplay. I’m very clear that I’m not just writing a screenplay, but creating a movie that inspires people and changes lives. Knowing that’s my desired outcome, I save time and can concentrate my effort. Can you see, that being very clear on the outcome will help me make better decisions along the way?
When I had an opportunity to interview America’s Got Talent winner, Terry Fator, about his dream, he told me that every time he came to Las Vegas he would stop near the Mirage and visualize his name on the marquee. He didn’t just want to be a Vegas headliner, he wanted to be a Vegas Headliner at the Mirage. Guess what is says on the Mirage sign now?
You can’t get it if you don’t set it!
Visualizing alone is not enough. Although, I love the video “The Secret,” I think it fell short mentioning the work that accompanied the visualizing. Visualizing can give you ideas, but you still have to take action on them. Terry Fator used to carry a sharpie in his pocket to have a constant reminder he wanted to become so good that people wanted his autograph.
If you don’t have the goal you want now, you’ll have to do something that’s uncomfortable to get it. You will have to stretch yourself. There’s no way around it — otherwise it wouldn’t be a goal, it would be a task.
Anyone who has ever accomplished something experienced discomfort at some point while making it happen. I love the concept in the movie, We Bought a Zoo, of being brave for 20 seconds. Often, that can be all it takes to take the next step. We can easily “justify” not doing anything. This quote sits on my desk to remind me about being brave:
“Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead.”
~ Will Rogers
If you’re not sure where to go… go anyway. Unless you’re meditating, standing still doesn’t help us make progress. Though it’s intended to be funny, I think of the quote by Yogi Berra, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Had I not pursued stand-up comedy, I never would’ve discovered speaking.
No matter what your age, you’re still the CEO of your dream. You are 100% responsible, like it or not. Period. Many people give away that power and become an employee of their dream and let other “well-meaning people” employ them. It’s your dream, set it and go get it!
When my sub shop failed, I blamed everyone, but me. I chose the franchise. I chose the location. I paid a lawyer to review the contract and I didn’t listen. I laughed out loud when listening to a Jim Rohn tape and his mentor asked him to write down all the reasons he was not successful. His mentor looked over the list and told Jim, “There is one problem with this list, your name isn’t on it.” Ouch!
After my business failure, I was living in my parents’ house, with my childhood leopard bedspread and all. During that time I had a new dream — and to remind me of the lesson I so painfully learned, I put a Successories poster up in my room that said, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” At work, I had wisdom on my desk from that unknown author, “The mighty oak is just a nut that held its ground.”
Cory, our server, had never heard these basic ideas about goal-setting and was a little down when she first came to our table. By the time Jerry and I left, she was grinning and inspired about her own life. You don’t need a stage to inspire someone who is open to self-development.
When I caught up with my friend, the workshop leader, she told me about the man she was on-again and off-again with. Then I got the reminder I needed. The man she was dating would probably never be the one in that vision. Thus, her actions were sabotaging her own dream. It’s so much easier to see it in others — but when you see it, do you ever stop and ask yourself how the same principle applies to the way you are living your life?
I realized I had been doing the exact same thing. Ouch. Seeing her situation helped me get clear on my own. I started thinking clearer and made some important changes in my own life.
Hope this article was a good reminder. But here’s the real question, “Who will keep you accountable?” If you’re anything like me, I’m more accountable to others than to myself. That’s why I’m committed to posting my daily progress on my blog. It keeps me moving forward and being brave.
If you’re not clear, get clear. If you’re not acting brave, start being brave for 20 seconds. If you’re not taking responsibility for your dreams, you’re giving it to someone else. You are the CEO. Even if you’re delegating, you’re responsible. Period.