I started my business some twenty years ago. While I can’t always remember where I put my keys, I vividly recall the state of mind and emotion that accompanied the first year of that journey. The time was exhilarating, terrifying and – almost always — focused and intentional. I succeeded (at least so far). Today, I’m observing so many people who are stepping courageously in the direction of some dream, whether by default (a job elimination) or determination (a planned pursuit of a goal), and I’m reminded of the intangible — though very real — factors that precede tangible success.
Recently, I listened to the stories of three friends in the process of creating a new and better future. While I won’t share their names here, I’ll identify each of them by the qualities they are exhibiting, capabilities I believe are among the determinants of future peace, satisfaction and success.
I’ll call the first friend “Intentionality.” Intentionality has arrived where she’s at by completing the journey of self-awareness. She knows who she is, confidently naming her innate and learned talents and skills, squarely facing her flaws and limitations, and, perhaps most importantly, declaring what she wants and needs in her life at this moment and for the foreseeable future. Having just left a job in which much was accomplished, she ponders “what-if’s” and entertains well-meaning suggestions and advice from others. But she always returns to purpose as her decision criterion. Listening to her, I was reminded of the power of intent to move mountains.
What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it. – Alexander Graham Bell
My second friend’s name is “Perspective.” He is exhibiting an uncanny ability to look at things from a positive, big-picture perspective. The circumstances surrounding his recent job elimination are far from personal, though I know very few people who would not personalize them. This friend is resolute in his belief that “when one door closes, another opens,” and is genuinely invigorated by the opportunity to write a new chapter in his career.
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. – Helen Keller
The third friend’s name is “Surrender.” If you heard her story in full, you would feel empathy at a minimum and perhaps even sadness, as she is facing a major life dilemma and neither option is without pain. To live in integrity, she must eventually pursue one path or the other. She is choosing to examine possibilities, leaving no stone unturned, while holding faith that unseen forces conspire to ensure the right decisions are made.
During a particularly fearful time during that first year of my business, a dear mentor offered me the following affirmation. The simple passage became my mantra, a source of comfort when I got tired or my faith waned. I shared the advice with “Surrender”:
Work peacefully and joyfully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring right results. –
Intentionality, perspective and surrender. Each of my three friends actually embodies all three qualities. Each is an aspect of the whole person. Intentionality needs perspective to pursue challenging yet realistic goals. Perspective passed through surrender, choosing not to be stalled even momentarily by a victim mindset. Surrender understands the paradoxical nature of intent, and is able to take courageous steps in light of forces beyond her direct control.
Consider how these three aspects serve you in the pursuit of your dreams. Is there one or more you could call upon for assistance to make the journey smoother? I hope you’ll consider taking one of my friends along.
Andrea Chilcote is an executive coach, leadership development expert and author of Erik’s Hope: The Leash that Led Me to Freedom, a fictional account based on her life's transformational journey. Learn more at EriksHope.com and MorningstarVentures.com.