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!

What bib number did you draw?

This week, after being in Tallahasse with a client, I flew to Anchorage for the start of the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled race. (Many of you know about my book, Iditarod Leadership, and my passion about the great leadership lessons learned from mushing and dog sled teams)

Last night was the annual Musher’s Banquet. There was entertainment, a meal, auction items and a chance for the race fans to interact with their favorite musher. As each musher was called to the stage to reach into the Mukluk (boot) where they draw for bib numbers (Bib numbers represent when they will start (which position)) there were pockets of cheering and it was a great time to recognize their sponsors and those that have contributed, greatly, to their being able to run this race.

So here’s what is on my mind for today… What bib number did you draw in life? What bib number do you feel you drew in life?

You see the drawing of starting position in the Iditarod and in life is, completely, random. We have NO control – whatsoever – over to whom we were born or to what circumstances.

What are your thoughts on that? How do you feel about the circumstances of your beginnings in life?

Now that you have that in mind – let’s deal with it..

There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING you can do about where, when, to whom, and the conditions of your start – nothing – and because you can do NOTHING about the starting position – it becomes a fact – it becomes your starting position and that’s it.

You might be saying, “Chris, You don’t understand…” and you may be right – but here is what I DO understand – regardless of your starting position – your finish is much more dependent upon your daily actions and attitudes than your starting position.

Your starting position is your history – you are already on your trail – already running your life race… Run it with pride – Run it with intentional purpose… which means – determine your desired destination and set the course to obtain it.

I have talked and shouted many times – that your start is not your destiny – your start is your start and DESTINY – is the same root where we get ‘destination’ from – it is a place that you decide beforehand to make as your goal – your destination – your “DESTINY”.

If you need more schooling, more economic opportunity, more connections, more anything – go for it… what is stopping you from achieving?

Your bib number?


That’s the bib number we were given – we can’t change it – we can’t let it define us! It adjusts our process to achieving success – but it CANNOT effect us unless we allow it.

DECIDE your desitination – your Destiny – or as I call it – you’re “BURLED ARCH”

Make a list of what you will need to get there – or start seeking the knowledge of what will be needed to get you there.

Start – RUN! GO for it! I, for one, believe you can!

The Start before the Start

It’s hard to believe that we are heading into the last few weeks of 2009. For some it will be, “Good Riddance!”, for others, “Not Bad..” or “Hey, we did great!”

Regardless of your expression and feelings about 2009, there is a new year and new opportunities in front of you and the start of your next year officially begins in just 3 weeks! A time of renewal, of re-dedicating ourselves to our purpose and, hopefully, gaining useful insights into the patterns or occurrences of the past year.

I really struggle between helping people through talking about ‘Purpose’ and helping them through talking about ‘Process’. Process isn’t sexy. It’s not the perception that’s given off by World-Renowned, Charismatic, ‘Motivational Speakers’! They have the reputation to stir up the inner spirit and to ‘motivate’ us to believe in the power of the dream and dream and dream and dream!!!

I LOVE THAT! It’s what the ‘Burled Arch’ is all about… Reaching the Dream!

AND my heart goes to, “How?”

I think that it may, actually, be worse to have a dream and not know how to make it happen than to never know what that dream or purpose was in the first place.

You see, there has to be BOTH – purpose and process, “the dream” and “the daily”, if we are ever going to reach our “purpose”….. “on purpose”

To start the process, we have 3 areas of focus for the next 3 weeks.

  1. What’s the dream? Has it changed or revised since the start of last year? (Burled Arch)
  2. Review and learn from the progress of our race toward the Burled Arch in 2009 (Evaluate and Evolve)
  3. Purpose the process. (Ready and Checkpoints)

The Action for our ‘Race’ will occur in 2010 – and although it is EXTREMELY cheesy – the only way that we are going to “Win in ’10” – is if we have “Purpose” AND “Process” .

I warned you about the ‘cheese’ factor, right?

To close out 2009 with the most benefit possible let’s spend some time this week thinking about the last year. I would encourage you to take a consultants approach to your year, as opposed to a participants approach.

As a participant, you are going to feel all of the bumps and bruises over again as you relive each moment…

As a consultant, we recognize the emotions but search, dig, and glean for the lessons and ways for ‘process improvement’

Try to step outside of your year and take a look, if needed – meet with your team or someone outside of you and your team for this process – it will pay tremendous dividends when done right!

The next 3 weeks will be a time of getting ready for the start of 2010. Let’s start STRONG – in fact, let’s start NOW.

Have a great week!