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!

The power of “Plant it and Plan it!”

Waking up this morning refreshed, powered up and ready for the week!  Eyes opened at 4:45 am and as I lay there trying to go back to sleep – this powerful thought was getting bigger – and growing both my excitement and energy levels..

The Power of “I Can!”

There are so many battles that we fight – but none more fierce than the battle of self belief.

Before the world hits us, before the traffic jams and road rage, before the shop opens, the computer is turned on, and WAY before the first Sales call – our own mind turns on – and sometimes turns on us.  But what if we could turn it toward working for us and not against us – what if the power of our minds was unleashed towards helping us succeed instead of flooding us with reasons why not, barriers of never happen, and shards of broken, unrealized dreams.

What are the conversations that you have with yourself while you’re getting ready?

Sometimes – we are just running – the day has started without us – we are already behind and facing the tidal wave of a day, a week, a month, and another year – just like the previous… however long….

Today – let me Plant a SEED!  A seed of thought in your mind that, “You CAN!”

You have everything in you that you need to succeed.

Let me stop and make you say that again in your mind.

You have everything in you that you need to succeed.

I know it sounds cheesy – but you have the ‘power of potential ‘and the ‘dynamite of determination’!

You have what you need and you can get wherever you want to go – from where you are now – with two steps:

Plant it and Plan it.

  1. Plant it
  2. Plant it refers to setting the mark of achievement.  What is your desire? Goal? Hope? Or Dream? What are you aiming at?   Without something specific – you won’t have a tangible item to chase – if you have a sales goal – make it specific – to sell $100,000 of product this month, this week, this year… to make 20 calls this week – or today..  Whatever the goal is – make it a specific number.  If it’s weight loss – what do you want to weigh?

    We’ve taught about making your goals ‘smart’ for years:

    S – Specific

    M – Measureable

    A – Action oriented

    R – Reasonable

    T – Time Bound

    (I’ve been teaching it for so long – I’m not sure where it came from – or I would give specific credit to them!  So if you know it’s origin – please comment and we’ll give them their credit together! )

  3. Plan it

For each goal – map the process of achievement – what are the steps to get there? Dreams fail and hopes are shattered – right out of the gate – when there is no plan!  There has to be steps to achievement – we RARELY take leaps – more than likely – you will take steps toward your dream – and as you can mark your progress (Daily or weekly) you can keep up your momentum!

Not near enough time to talk about all the steps of success for planning – but I’ll give you some thoughts:

Break your planning into:  Major Milestones, Main steps, and Mini steps.

Every day – you can do something to get you – even a ‘Mini step’ closer to your goal.  Look for incremental success – take one step at a time – ‘I CAN’ take the next step – or ‘I CAN’ find out what that next step is and start to line out a plan to that next step…

Give yourself permission to succeed today!

  • Tell yourself,  “you can!”
  • Plant the flag  – plant the stake in the ground of your goal or dream
  • Plan it!

Dream, Plan, ACT!

The Psychological Power of overcoming

Whatever you yield to – is what you give power to… Yield to the obstacle or difficult situation and you give power to it – stare it down and overcome it and the power becomes yours – not just for the day – but for your entire future – it is a stake in the ground that you will continuously point back to and say – on such and such date – in this situation – I faced down the giant and I won.

Every situation builds on the previous. Failure and defeat can lead to more of the same – every time you give in – you shrink – every time you endure or conquer – you grow!

In the historical Chronicles of the leaders of Israel, as well as children folklore – they tell the story of David. You have probably heard the tale of David killing Goliath. This Teen had the courage to take on someone purported to be towering over all other men in the Israeli Army – and was not even being confronted by the King. What gave David the courage to confront this enemy?

David was a mere shepherd boy – a kid who watched his family’s sheep. What did he know about being a warrior?

What he knew – was how he grew!

While watching the sheep – a lion approached the herd to kill and eat a sheep. David confronted the situation, grabbed his sling, put in a rock and flung it directly at the Lion. The rock hit the target and the Lion was defeated. At another point – a bear attacks in a similar manner and David – growing from the situation of overcoming the Lion – leaned on that victory and defeated this Bear. So when faced with this Giant (Goliath) – David had grown to the point of being able to point back to previous (lesser) successes and say with all confidence – I defeated the Lion, I defeated the Bear – this is just another similar adversary – that will fall to the ground. And just like what we talked about earlier this week – he faced the storm. In fact, the records say that he ran TOWARD Goliath.

The rest (as Paul Harvey would say) is history…

Step by step – one obstacle at a time – feed your inner power – feed your inner energy and face down the obstacles and enemies.

What gave Lance Mackey (3 time Iditarod winner) the courage to overcome his obstacles? What gave Dee Dee Jonrowe courage? What gave Lance Armstrong power? They overcame disease and the rest could seem like child’s play.

What do you need to face? What can we help you face? You need to overcome this obstacle – face down this enemy – because it’s not just an enemy of your path – your race – your day –it’s an enemy of your future – an enemy of your soul!

Fight the good fight – stay in the battle – kick this obstacle in the teeth – and stand with those that have slain Giants in the process!

Turning on the light

When you’re running the race and darkness has closed in around your sled – you can stay on the sled and worry about the darkness, think about the darkness, talk about the darkness – or you can turn on the light!

When running the race at night, mushers will turn on their headlamp. It allows them to see things they would not otherwise see AND allows others on the trail to know they are there. In business, part of moving from fear to persevere is to move things from the unknown to the known. This process is “turning on the light” where there are only shadows and where fear or discouragement is running high.

When fear and uncertainty grip us, we need to move as quickly as possible to unraveling the mystery and revealing the trail conditions. As leaders, this process is rarely pleasant, but it’s our sled, our team and our responsibility.

When moving to turn the light on a “dark situation” pull over to a checkpoint or create a camp site and walk through the following:

Look for the ‘You are here’ circle on the map.

Assemble the team and list out all knowns on a white board. This is probably not the time for the timid to hold their peace. From a personality stand point, those with the greatest knowledge through analysis are, also, usually introverted and may dislike confrontation. This means that you are going to need to give them permission to be rigorously honest and work to draw the information from them. Use communication that lets them know that their honesty and communication are vital to save the team from harm and they are not hurting the team – but may be providing life-saving information.

Don’t “Beat the dogs”

Reacting negatively or exploding on the team as they are giving you vital but unpleasant information will only serve to hurt you long term. The rest of the team will certainly withhold their opinions and the next time there is negative information they will let you take the hit, instead of being beaten for trying to help you.

List out the trail choices.

With the help of your team, run through all the possible scenarios (trails), follow each to their natural conclusions, consider best and worst case.


Pick the best trail, given the existing knowledge and start running. If you stay put, you’ll freeze to death. If you choose a wrong path, but you start soon enough, you will discover the error and make the needed correction! And if you get it right – you’ve saved valuable time and options. Problems rarely work themselves out and delaying decisions only limits the options. Great leaders make decisions timely and change them quickly if need be. Mediocre leaders change their decisions so slowly, they reduce their probability for success.

OWN the choice.

You are responsible for your life and your team. What that means is that you are Response-able. You are Able to Respond to whatever the situation is and work to yield the best results possible. When I say you’re responsible – I’m not discussing whose FAULT the situation is – only that you have the power, the ability to respond in that situation to work and move to the best possible outcome!

Be open, honest, collaborative, and empowered. When the storms hit (when, not if) we have more safety in numbers…As the Proverb goes, “.. in the counsel of many, a ruler’s throne is made secure”

Turn on the light! You are Response-Able!

Owning the right perspectives on problems and obstacles

No one can affect your thoughts on a situation or event, unless you let them…

So now we are to the “How?” question. If the problems and obstacles are there to help separate the tenacious competitors from the casual competitors, how do we own the right mindset?

1. Check the mindset

When you are in the middle of a battle, pause and ask yourself “what am I thinking about this situation?”. It seems silly to ask you to do this – but the purpose of the exercise is to give you momentary pause to “check your thoughts”. It will interrupt your thinking about the situation and allow you to think about your thinking. What am I thinking? Are they the right thoughts?

2. Keep the sled light

Keeping the sled “light” means I don’t pile other events on my sled. The times that I have the most trouble with my “mental game” is when I find myself connecting unrelated events. I have an obstacle or fail to meet an intended result and I, immediately, start to fight thoughts that tie every other failure in my life to this situation. This situation is THIS situation. If the thoughts attempt to spiral you into rehearsing of all previous failures and short comings, try to arrest the process – STOP THE RUN AWAY SLED!!!!

IF (and it’s a big if) you discover through looking at the situation that there are some bad patterns or choices that do connect some dots – then work to identify the pattern. That’s it – Identify the pattern and work to correct that pattern. Your “lot in life” is not to ALWAYS be the losing sled. Start owning the mindset that you can win – even if you’ve never won before – there is always a first!

3. Evolve

If you remember, the Evolve stage is where we look at the lessons learned, understand the needed course corrections and immediately work to implement the changes into our daily running. John C Maxwell has an incredible book called Failing Forward and it is, absolutely, recommended reading. One of the take-aways from this book is that when people fail – they usually forget the lesson that they should have learned and hold onto the emotional pain of the failure. He goes on to counsel that we should forget the emotional hit from the failure and work to remember what the failure will teach us. This has led to an internal mantra for me that echoes – “Learn the lesson – forget the pain”

This doesn’t mean that we don’t remember the hit – we just don’t allow it to become emotional baggage that weighs us down – remember point # 2 – keep the sled light! I am a firm believer in pain being one of the chief teachers in life – we want to avoid the pain – so we don’t do whatever action caused us the pain last time. It doesn’t mean we choose not to race again – it means we improve – we get better and we try not to make the same mistake twice.

4. The Champion’s mindset

What would the top competitors be thinking in this same situation? In order to change the outcome – we have to change our action. In order to change our actions – we have to change our thoughts and beliefs.

Consistently asking yourself, “What would the best leaders think and do in this situation?” can lead you to an elevated thinking, action and outcome.

But the first step is to take ownership of this area (your thoughts are your thoughts) and a thought cannot be removed – it can only be replaced with another thought. Whether that thought is good or whether that thought is self-defeating is up to you.

Choose with me to “Own” the winning mindset today!