Welcome back to Dream Toolbox. We have talked a lot about changing core belief systems, visualizing your dream and making it real in your mind, as well as creating useful waypoints to make sure you stay on track. There will be more to say about each of these as we go along. They are the critical pieces in making any dream come true.
But now it is time to talk about more mundane things. The first of which is just getting started. For most people, dreams remain just that—dreams—and are never realized because of a critical missing piece: those who had the dreams simply never took the first practical steps to make them a reality. So let’s talk about those steps.
1. Take a hard, realistic look at where you are in life and where you want to go. If you have no money and perhaps belong to a minority race or have any of many other obstacles in your way, don’t pretend those obstacles are not real. Instead, start thinking about what you will have to change about you, your surroundings, your education, or your lifestyle to turn those obstacles into stepping-stones to success.
I know that I have said that those kinds of obstacles do not define you or prohibit you from achieving success. But, and this is a big “but”, if you don’t address them realistically, they can block your success. I’ll give you a trivial, but illustrative example. I had a business partner a few years ago who was an incredibly talented black man. I noticed that when we went to business meetings, he was inevitably the best-dressed person in the room and then when we traveled together he always carried a travel iron and pressed his clothes before each new day.
I asked him why, and his answer was simple and insightful. He said, “Although I am confident of my ability, I know that in any meeting I may encounter those who expect me as a black man to be less capable. Being always the best-dressed person in the room helps to keep that issue off the table and requires very little effort on my part.” I asked if he resented having always to be just a little bit better than his competitors. His answer was wise and accurate. He said, “Everyone has obstacles to overcome. Mine just happens to be skin color, but the things I do to make sure that is not a barrier to success can also give me a better chance of success even if my skin color would never have mattered in any particular meeting. So, by solving one problem, I have created extra opportunities. Why should I resent that?”
2. Prepare to succeed. Begin by doing the things we have already discussed and whatever else you have determined need to be done for success. Above all, remember the words of John Wooden, perhaps the most successful basketball coach of all time, who said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
3. Finally, just start. That sounds simple, but when any of us faces the uncertain future and the risks that are involved in trying to make a dream that matters to us come true, it is very easy to say, “I’ll start first thing tomorrow.” Procrastination is the greatest thief in the world; it steals our lives, one day at a time. Whatever your age or circumstance, you have the power right now to begin reshaping your life for success. Just begin—now.