Yesterday I had a conversation with my executive coaching cohort about confidence. We were asked to share one of our breakthroughs as we enter the final weeks of the program. I consider myself to be a confident person, but my breakthrough was the sense of heightened confidence that I attained as a program participant. I’ve spoken in the past about wanting to see a self-actualized world, and now I’ve learned to quantify that. I plan to teach 12 million people the 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness in the next 12 years. It’s a goal that’s both challenging and achievable. Moving from wishful thinking to specific measurable goals builds confidence. It’s part of what I do regularly with my coaching clients. For some, it’s the dreaming itself that’s the hardest part.
There were times in my life when I felt particularly successful: when I married, purchased my first home, bought a brand-new car, started a business or gave birth to my beautiful daughter. In those landmark moments, I felt like I was exactly where I wanted to be. Over the years I’ve learned to be cautious in those moments. It can be easy to relax into life’s simplicity: providing for ourselves and caring for our families. When those things are accomplished, there may not be any motivation to do much else. We might fund our 401k and dream only of retirement. We can get too comfortable.
Ironically, when life is difficult it can also make us complacent: The constant grind becomes our primary focus. It’s like driving on the highway while looking at your hood ornament. Trying to make it to the next paycheck, the next light bill or the next meal keeps you stuck in survival mode. Dreams can’t see the light of day.
Both comfort and struggle can create inertia.
So how do you break through?
Sometimes struggle creates an easier path. Having less than what you know you deserve can create motivation to do more. Take a side hustle. Study on weekends. Or dream of a better life.
Sometimes comfort takes the lead. Access to resources can make it easier to take on new ventures, network in powerful circles and dream of creating change.
The breakthrough comes from defining your personal north star. What do you care about? What are your guiding principles? What do you enjoy doing? What are you most skilled at? What population do you want to serve? Once you identify those things, then you must muster the courage to dream big.
Think back to your childhood. Be creative. Imagine a life without limits.
Maybe you care about kids with autism, and you are a skilled architect. Your big dream might be to build a global network of community centers for autistic kids and their families.
Maybe you’re passionate about the homeless population and you are a middle school teacher. Your big dream might be to create a national curriculum about poverty, disenfranchisement, marginalization and homelessness.
Once the dream is in place, guiding you like a north star, it’s all about execution.
Anything is possible.
We know that because Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison before becoming the first democratically elected president of South Africa. He dreamed of an end to apartheid.
We know that because Oprah Winfrey rose from abuse and poverty to become one of only eleven self-made woman billionaires in the United States. She dreamed of becoming a philanthropist.
As I wrote in Thinking Outside the Chrysalis: A Black Woman’s Guide to Spreading Her Wings, “Who am I to say what is and isn’t possible? Babies are created from a single cell. The sun is ninety-four million miles from the earth. The oceans follow the call of the moon. My body is capable of fighting infection, writing this book, listening to the rain and following its circadian rhythm simultaneously… I’m not convinced anything is impossible.”
Usually, the thing that we care most about hits close to home and the population we want to reach includes ourselves.
In other words, the dream you save may be your own.
And, it’s entirely, completely, utterly possible.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The photo is the first gift basket that I sent off to a celebrity. It contains Thinking Outside the Chrysalis, the revised 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness and a few of my favorite things. I am relaunching 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness in time for my birthday on September 10, along with a new foreword from Marci Shimoff and some new content. Keep dreaming people! Stay focused!