Seven steps to realizing your dreams

Have you ever sensed that things are simply not going your way, no matter what you do to make your projects – and your life in general – work as desired?  Are you sometimes at a loss to understand why your efforts come to little effect?  Do you often despair over a feeling that your ideas are getting little to no traction, maybe due to your own lack of confidence?

Despair no further!  Stephen R. Covey gave us “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” (1989/2004) almost three decades ago in a book that continues to reap brisk sales, with over 18 million copies already in distribution.  How can you get your focus back and organize your life and business in such a way that you will have confidence in your own thoughts, plans and actions?  Take a look at the well-known plan offered to you by Mr. Covey, synopsized in the following passages! 

Step 1:  Be Proactive!  Have a personal vision regarding what you want to accomplish!  You would be surprised how many people strike out with a project without a vision of what they want to achieve.  The name of the project may sound great, but where are you going with it?  What does the end-state look like?  You will be ahead on time and money if you can envision a clearly-defined end-state!

Step 2:  Begin with the End in Mind! Take charge of the process.  Establish way-points or phase-lines along the way to the end-state that you have envisioned in order to help you make incremental achievements and to ensure that you are on track.  Decide what your personal leadership model will be in this process.  Take control!  Keep your eye on the ball!

Step 3:  First Things First!  What is really important in your plan?  As in all ventures, some things must be accomplished before the overall plan can progress.  Don’t get ahead of the game, but build the foundation of your “house” before you try to build on sand.

Step 4:  Think Win/Win!  Can you be successful if you lack the confidence to take your plan forward?  Do you believe in yourself?  If so, can you communicate this confidence to others?  Can you make your confidence contagious, so you can “infect” others with your vision?  Your plans will often require the assistance of others.  A good starting point is to think, believe and then communicate your confidence in your vision!  If you yourself have doubts about your ideas, should you continue? If YOU think your idea might be vulnerable, re-work it and then go forward.  It is important that YOU believe!  If you believe, then so will others.

Step 5:  Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood!  Two-way communication is the only true communication.  Empathetic communication is the next and all-important level in communication if you want others to understand you and your vision.  Understand your audience before asking them to understand you.  Know whose support you seek, learn as much about them as possible, then ethically craft messages to show how your vision is also their vision – a vision that works to their advantage as well as yours!

Step 6:  Synergize!  There is nothing that brings a project or a vision to fruition like the dedicated support of others!  How does your vision match with the visions of others?  The greater the compatibility, the greater the synergy you can create.  “What’s in it for me?” is a question you should address in your message to others; perhaps this component does not necessarily have to be explicitly stated, but it should be clear in your communication.  Incorporating stake-holders into your vision is a game-changer!

Step 7:  Sharpen the Saw!  What is the saw?  The saw is YOU!  Sharpen your beliefs in yourself. If you do not believe in what you see in the mirror, how can you expect others to do so?  Educate, train, meditate, take personal stock… Do whatever is necessary to get to know yourself, build yourself, and then sell yourself! If the “saw” is sharp, it – meaning you – will cut as desired!

Who are you?  Do you believe in yourself?  What do you want to accomplish? Do you believe in your own vision?  Can you make others believe in your vision?  Are you ready for the tasks you have assigned to yourself?  If you can craft the answers to these questions in a way that points positively in your direction, you will have done your part to realize your success!     

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