How do you know when dreams are just a dream?

I received the following message yesterday from an old friend and thought it would be great to share this conversation with you, as well.

So I’ve read your posts, looked at your website, and watched your sample videos. If you had to pick a starting point for someone who has a dream, but has spent most of their life being “against” themselves, what would you tell them? How do you know if it really IS just a dream?

L – thanks for the message – great to hear from you.  You inspired today’s post.

I use the term Dream -AND it hit me after seeing your message that I don’t like how unattainable it sounds… will it just be a figment of my imagination?


So – I’m changing my phrasing to: Dream big! and then set it up as a “Burled Arch Destiny”!


For those that have read my ‘Iditarod Leadership’ book or followed the Iditarod – you know the term ‘Burled Arch’ – as it is the finish line and the term ‘Destiny’ that comes from the same word as Destination.  Destiny is not ‘Fate’ (whatever happens to me – that’s my Destiny) – no – Destiny is a decided beforehand Destination that I am determined to reach!

With ‘Burled Arch Destiny” – all we need is the map, the skill and the will to get there!

Maps are creatable – Skill is grow-able…. only one question left – do you have the WILL?

So what I would tell people is this: “Dream Big!  AND then learn the steps that it is going to take to get you there.”

  Where are you now along this trail?
  Why do you want this Destiny?
  What will you need to Learn?
  What skills will you need to develop?
  What role will others play in helping you reach this Burled Arch?
  What are measurable steps along the way?
  What is the NEXT step?

If you can understand and take the next step and continue that process (WILL) – nothing can stop you from reaching your “Burled Arch Destiny”!

It’s not going to be perfect – anything worth doing – is worth doing UGLY!   Ugly is how we start and it leads us to continuous improvement!

(remember how bad we all were when we first started learning to play sports as little kids?  Eventually – if the WILL persists, the skill improves and you make JV and then on to Varsity! It takes talent – but as my mentor John Maxwell says, “Talent is NEVER enough!”)

Finally, what do we do with all of the self-defeating voices in our head?

  Fight them with everything you have!
  What the roots drink – the fruits think!
  Celebrate small victories and progress ‘Checkpoints’ like crazy!

Saturate yourself in “Can do – positivity!”  Find a voice – someone that lifts you up – and listen to their positive beliefs.  I listen (almost daily) to speakers that are highly positive and motivational – why?  because I need it too!

Read, listen, watch – anything you can to make sure your tank stays full of the belief in possibilities!

Next – Celebrate any progress – ANY progress toward your Burled Arch Destiny – you learn a new skill, take a new class, spend 30 minutes in dreaming and mapping! – whatever it is mark down and celebrate the wins!  This is the fuel needed to keep it up!  Why keep running if you think you’re not going anywhere?  Mark your progress – celebrate the smallest progress!

Lastly – find an encouraging friend, accountability partner or coach…  when you start to doubt (which we all do!), when you want to quit – you’ll need them to cheer you on!

Keep Dreaming – Keep moving – Keep growing – Keep doing!  The Burled Arch Destiny is attainable!

Leaders need courage

Whether you’re facing down 1100 miles of frozen tundra, a hostile business climate, or even a 360 peer review – courage is critical.

In every leader’s day to day there are times when we would prefer not to be as courageous as we need to be. We don’t always want to face the challenges in front of us, admit weaknesses (or areas needing improvement) in our leadership skill set, or stare down adversity raging like a storm off the Bering Sea – but if we are to continue to be the leader – it’s part of our job description.

Great Leaders understand that without risk there can be no reward.

There will always be risk – in business, in life, in Iditarod – Leaders know, understand and process this accordingly. It’s not that leaders lack fear – the fear is still there – it’s what you do with the fear and how you process it that makes the difference. Courage isn’t an absence of fear. It’s doing what you’re afraid to do. It’s pushing past the fear to a place of internal power – to leave the last checkpoint and ‘Mush off the Map!’ Think about it – if there were no fear – you wouldn’t need courage..

I heard of a leader that illustrated this point by handing his people 3 pieces of paper with choices on them.

  1. ‘Try and succeed’
  2. ‘Try and potentially fail’
  3. ‘Don’t try and therefore never fail’

Leaders value action – and to ‘not try’ is not an option for us if we want to succeed. Courage is looking at all the options, regardless of how unpleasant, making the best decision at the time, and starting.

Remember: just because you start down a path – doesn’t mean that you can’t change – that you must stay on that path forever. If you start down a path and it’s not working – see what needs to be changed and act on that, as well.

To increase your courage:

  • Do the homework. There is no substitute for having as much of the known knowledge as possible. Leaders need to make informed decisions and that comes from having the right information – the good and the bad.
  • Have open, honest discussions with rigorous debate about the appropriate course of action – when the mission or change is critical – this is not the time to hold back opinions – allow the debate to get spirited within the right boundaries.
  • Gain wise counsel. Counsel can come from many sources – but needs to come from the right sources. You can take information from many – but limit counsel to the right people.
  • Best Case / Worst Case. Play out both scenarios and weigh the cost of each – if you can live with the worst case – go for it!
  • Act – you have to act – you have to move and look for the very next logical step and take it! Then look for the next step and take it – before long you’ll be moving in the direction of success. Remember – it’s much easier to turn a moving sled than one that is stopped and anchored!
  • Evaluate – look back at this section in the RACE postings – evaluate at regular intervals and respond accordingly!

Fear will be present. As leaders we accept this. Criticism will always be present – we must accept this, too. If you weren’t attempting something great – people would not have cause to criticize.

If I were beside you today – I would encourage you that you can succeed – walk it out step by step – checkpoint by checkpoint – you’ll get there. And when you do – we’ll have a drink in the lodge together and celebrate!