Are Your Dreams Dead or Hibernating?

Standard

By Tasha M. TroyIMG_0792

Life isn’t easy.  Very rarely does the universe align itself for your fulfillment, and there are no fairy godmothers whose sole aim in life is to make your wishes come true.

What do you do when life knocks the dreams out of you?

This is what I’m walking through right now.  I’ve caught a vision for where my life and career could go – a dream of international travel, respect in my field, and impacting many lives.  However, it seems that life is not cooperating.

I have slowly been working towards this dream for the past seven years, but I accelerated my efforts last year.  As a result, I’e experienced many disappointments and at times questioned my decision.

Today, it looks like I’m right back where I started, working in a job very similar to the one I had 15 years ago!  Is the dream dead?  Or is it, in fact, hibernating?

The truth is only you can kill your dream!

To Kill a Dream

Dreams are especially easy to kill when they are hibernating, seemingly dead but simply waiting for the springtime, a new season of growth. In his book, John Maxwell lists five reasons people don’t dream, but I would like to present them as “weapons of dream destruction”:

  • lack of imagination – this “weapon” has the power to kill dreams before they are even conceived, this can also kill dreams when you hit a barrier or obstacle.
  • lack of confidence – this “weapon” kills baby dreams, preventing you from taking action, but it can also kill teenaged dreams when you realize you do not yet have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to achieve your dream
  • settling for average – this “weapon” kicks in when things get difficult; depending on the dream, this could be earlier or later in the process, but the power of a “comfort zone” is deadly to dreams
  • disappointment – this “weapon” may be the most powerful; when you’ve experienced enough challenges and (temporary) failures, the pain of disappointment can be acute
  • discouragement – this final “weapon” is particularly insidious when it is used not internally, your own thoughts, but externally, from friends and family who love you and don’t want to see you struggle

In the past several months, I have examined each of these weapons, but each time I have set it back down and given my dream the time it needs to rest, regroup, and come back stronger.  The only way my dream can die is if I myself kill it.  If I don’t, it has a chance to come out of hibernation and finally grow to maturity.

Have you been tempted to kill your dream?  Have you actually murdered it in its sleep?

The purposes of God in our lives and in our generation are not served when we kill our dreams.  But take heart – God is in the business of resurrecting dreams!  “God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or when he calls someone.” (Romans 11:29)

 

Take It Deeper

Today can be the day you bring your dreams back to life!

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

Advertisements

2 Keys to Map Your Course

Standard

After I had lived in S. Korea for about five years, my family finally came to visit me.  I knew this might be my only chance for them to experience what I loved about Korea, so I carefully planned the itinerary.IMG_1013

  • I checked event and performance schedules
  • I pre-purchased tickets to shows I didn’t want to miss
  • I mapped out routes to visit my favorite locations
  • I considered what foods I wanted them to try
  • I recruited a friend to help me rent a car for a portion of their visit

Most people will put a lot of time and effort into planning their vacations, but how many put the same time and effort into planning their life?

The Law of Navigation

One of the 21 Laws of Leadership is the Law of Navigation – “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.”  John Maxwell says that navigators “have a vision for getting to their destination, they understand what it will take to get there, they know who they’ll need on the team to be successful, and they recognize the obstacles long before they appear on the horizon.”

I find two keys in this passage:

  • The first point is to have a clear picture of the destination.
  • The second is to have a solid understanding of your departure point.

If you were planning a road trip, you wouldn’t say, “I’m going to the South.”  Instead you would say, “I’m going to Orlando, Florida, to visit Disney World,” or “I’m going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.”

Then you would consider your departure point – I live near Washington, DC, so I know I would have to drive south.  Once the starting and ending points are determined, the rest of the details begin falling into place.

Navigating Your Goals

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

A common mistake people make when applying this to goal setting is believing they need to chart out every step before they take any action.  That would be like saying, “I can’t go to Orlando because I don’t know what the road conditions in Atlanta will be this time of year.”

You will never see the middle of the journey clearly.  You can only envision the destination and see the next few steps clearly.

While it’s true that a good navigator is aware of potential problems, it is also true that there is more than one way to go from Point A to Point B.  The best navigators have previewed possible alternate routes to avoid those obstacles.

The important point is to start.  There will be obstacles, and you will handle them when you encounter them.  As John Maxwell has said, “Everything worthwhile is uphill.”

 

Photo by Tasha M. Troy; Kumgang Mountain

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

By the end of their time in Korea, my family understood what it was that I loved about the country and why I continued to live so far away.  Because I took the time to think through what I wanted to accomplish during those ten days and the experiences I wanted my family to have, we ended up having a great trip.

Planning + Action = Successful Accomplishment

What action have you been putting off?  What do you need to start this week?  Today?  This afternoon?

Are you accidentally growing?

Standard

A number of years ago, I switched from floating through life to intentionally pursuing a fresh vision for my life and career.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

At the time, I had been working in my field of ESL (English as a Second Language) for a few years, and I had even achieved my primary career goal.  It was a season of becoming established in the place I found myself, but I didn’t have a vision for what might be next.

It was a gradual process, but through my love of learning, eventually I developed a new vision for my life and career, and it continues to evolve.

Previously, I wrote about the eight growth gaps that John Maxwell describes in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, eight limiting beliefs that prevent us from pursuing a path that enables us to grow to our full potential.  I know I’ve fallen into some of them, and I still struggle a bit with one or two.  Others I don’t struggle with myself, but I talk to many people who do.

Here are the top 5:

1.  The Knowledge Gap (I don’t know how to grow) leads people to depend on their raw talent to accomplish their goals.  I think this prevented me from moving forward for a long time.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go next, so I didn’t know in what areas I needed to grow.

2.  The Inspiration Gap (I don’t feel like growing) leads people to talk big about their hopes, plans, and dreams yet never take action.  I have to be careful about this one.  I often come up with “brilliant ideas” that I don’t follow through on.  There are many reasons for this, but basically, I have “shiny object syndrome” – I get excited by new things and don’t always follow through to completion.

3. The Expectation Gap (I thought it would easier than this) leads people to depend on good luck and to quit when things get difficult.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this is the gap I struggle with the most today.  I am learning to expect difficulties and not be thrown off balance when the unexpected happens.  I am developing my ability to stick with a project and see it through to completion, no matter what obstacles I encounter.

4 The Timing Gap (It’s not the right time to grow) leads people to put off until tomorrow what can be done today.   This isn’t a personal struggle but I talk to a lot of people who choose to spend their time in other areas and not prioritize personal growth.  The bottom line is we will make time for the things that are truly important to us.

5. The Perfection Gap (I have to find the best way before I start) leads people to play it safe and avoid risk.  I have come to realize that, even though I am a “recovering perfectionist,” this is not a gap I fall into.  However, most people avoid moving out of their comfort zone for fear of failing at something.  I have found that you only fail when you give up.

Do you find yourself struggling with any of these “gaps”?  In what areas do you need to grow?  What do you need to do to move from accidental to intentional growth?

Resources:

I highly recommend reading The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell; it will get you started on the road to intentional growth and reaching your full potential!

If you are ready to take your intentions to the next level, I invite you to join  for an online seminar on book study on John Maxwell’s Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters.  For  details, dates, and a link to register, click here.

Do you want to resolve your conflict?  Let go of your perspective. 

Standard
Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Last week a friend posted a cartoon on Facebook that purported to explain “white privilege.”  This stirred up all kinds of controversy in the comments, including a link to a counter cartoon.

The trouble is I could see elements of truth in both cartoons.

It has been my observation that many, if not most (or more!), conflicts arise over a refusal to consider the other person’s perspective.  Perhaps refusal is too strong, but at the very least an inability and at worst a refusal to walk in someone else’s shoes is an element of almost any conflict.

Looking from Other Perspectives:

If you want to resolve a conflict, you must begin by seeing the situation from the other person’s perspective.  This concept is echoed by many experts:

Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton:

Whether you are making a deal or settling a dispute, differences are defined by the difference between your thinking and theirs.  (Getting to Yes, loc. 685)

Mark Goulston, John Ullmen:

To practice connected influence, you need to break down the barriers that keep you from knowing what other people think, want, and need.   (Real Influence, p. 81)

John Maxwell:

If you want to connect with others, you have to get over yourself.  You have to change the focus from inward to outward, off of yourself and onto others.  (Everyone Communicates Few Connect p. 29)

Stuart Diamond:

People like to give things to others who listen to them, who value them, who consult with them.  (p. 32)

Stephen R. Covey:

If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication.  (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 237)

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler:

People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool [of meaning] – even ideas that at first glance appear controversial, wrong, or at odds with their own beliefs.  (Crucial Conversations, p. 24)

There is no way to resolve a conflict until you are able to hear and understand all parties involved.

The Struggle is Real:

While it is a natural human condition to be concerned primarily for oneself, it is not conducive to living peacefully with others.  Everyone has challenges.  Some are monumental challenges – a family member struggling with cancer, the loss of a job and financial struggles.  Others are less so – an extended bout of bronchitis, an unexpected expensive car repair.  However, the size of the struggle is in the eye of the experiencer.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

This became abundantly clear to my family about 7 years ago.  My niece was born a micro premie, with a birth weight under 2 pounds.  As you can imagine, this instigated a season of intense struggle and incredible challenges.

I am very proud of my sister and her family for how they came through the first year or so, and today they are all doing very well.  However, in those early days she received very little support from her church and other friends, to my mind shockingly little.  The simple reason was that the people around her had their own struggles to deal with and were unable to see my sister through her struggle.

My sister had the opportunity to become very bitter and resentful, but she didn’t.  Instead she taught me the truth I am sharing with you – that everyone sees the world through their own lens, and you can’t blame them for that.

The ability to step back and view the world from someone else’s perspective requires a level of maturity not required under normal circumstances.  Many people don’t recognize the need for it until they are in the moment and find themselves lacking.

A New Approach:

In the commentary under my friend’s post, most comments were between a very angry woman and a very exasperated man.  In both of their comments I could hear their pain; it was clear both had had very hurtful experiences, but I don’t think they could detect it in each other.  Instead, they just kept jabbing at each other, increasing the anger and resentment they already felt.

What if … just imagine, if instead of reacting out of our own hurt, maybe, just maybe, we were able to ask instead, “tell me what happened to cause you to react this way?”  How could things be different if we only listened, really listened and tried to understand each other’s stories?

 

Resources:

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.  Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Everyone Communicates Few Connect: What the Most Effect People Do Differently.  John C. Maxwell.

Getting More: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life.  Stuart Diamond.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In.  Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton.

Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing, Gain without Giving In.  Mark Goulston, John Ullmen.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.  Stephen R. Covey.

Read more about my sister’s story here:  Born at 26 Weeks Weighing Under 2 Pounds, This Happy Girl Shows Why We Stand for Life

 

Want to have stronger relationships? Empower!

Standard

Did you realize that teachers can be possessive?  I know I have been!

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

As someone who teaches in a “student-centered” classroom, I am expected to empower the students to take the lead and to direct the class.  I’ll admit that this has been a struggle for me at times.  Ok, a lot of the time!

Part of the reason for this is the need to meet conflicting interests.  The desires of my students don’t always line up with the mandates from my employer.  Further, I take my responsibilities very seriously, and I have been concerned that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my own tasks if I take the time needed to allow students more directive control.

However, my attitude is changing.  In the last 18 months, as I’ve been learning more about leadership and developing leaders, I have started to look at my classroom less as a learning environment and more as a leadership incubator.  While I have always sought to empower my students to continue learning and growing after they’ve completed the course, now I am taking a bigger picture view of life after the classroom.

Of course, I am still focused on delivering content and providing opportunities for my students to grow in their communication skills.  However, this shift in perspective has made it possible for me to empower my students in ways I never did before.

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell says:

“Leading well is not about enriching yourself – it’s about empowering others.”

He then lists three reasons people don’t empower others: a desire for job security, resistance to change, and lack of self-worth.  For me, I think it was a combination of all three that prevented me from empowering my students more.

What I have found, however, is that people will rise to your expectations, and even when they don’t, good management of the situation can create a powerful learning experience for everyone involved.  In the end, it is well worth taking a little extra time to empower the people around me, for their own good and for mine!

In what areas are you still holding on to control?  Who do you need to empower today?

8 Limiting Beliefs that Prevent Us from Pursuing Our Purpose

Standard

By Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Have you ever found yourself engaged in self-sabotage?  I have, recently in fact.

Paul talks about this in Romans 7 – “The good I will to do I do not do, and the evil I don’t want to do is what I do!”

This is evidence of what some call “limiting beliefs” – faulty beliefs that prevent us from living the life God intends for us.  Do we really believe God is good and loves us immeasurably?  That following God’s laws is the best way to live?  The truth is we will never outperform our true beliefs.

This past year, 2015, was a challenging year for me.  At this time last year, I identified eight goals for the year, and I stepped out to achieve greater things than I ever had before.  I did not truly accomplish any of my goals, and it might seem like the past year was a failure.  I discovered limiting beliefs I didn’t know I had!

However, it has been an incredible year of learning – about myself, about the process of building a business, about the value of my message and my skills, and about goal-setting.  I identified the limiting beliefs, addressed them, replaced them with God’s truth, and moved forward.

I find myself now, at the beginning of 2016, in a position to move forward towards my goals more confidently and effectively than ever before.

In his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell describes eight “growth gaps.”  As I describe each one, think about your own attitudes towards pursuing your dreams and living a life of significance.

Are you holding on to any of these limiting beliefs?

The Assumption Gap – I will automatically grow

  • As children we can’t help but grow and learn, but once we leave school, growth and learning is up to us.

The Knowledge Gap – I don’t know how to grow

  • Everyone starts somewhere; recognize what you don’t know and look for the information you need

The Timing Gap – It’s not the right time to grow

  • There will never be a “good time” to invest in yourself

The Mistake Gap – I am afraid of making mistakes

  • You will make mistakes if you are learning and growing; experiment to find methods appropriate for you

The Perfection Gap – I have to find the best way before I start

  • There is no one perfect way, only several possible ways; experiment to find the best way for you.  People say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well” but I believe anything worth doing is worth doing.

The Inspiration Gap – I don’t feel like growing

  • Growth is uncomfortable; it’s easier to sit on sofa and watch tv!  I believe it is Tony Robbins who said, “You will change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

The Comparison Gap – Others are better than I

  • No two journeys are ever the same; embrace your unique gifts, talents, skills, and experience

The Expectation Gap – I thought it would easier than this

  • Anything worth accomplishing will require work and sacrifice.

 

My Journey

This last gap is the one I am currently working through.  I always thought that if God was leading me to do something, it would run smoothly.  Unfortunately, in 2015 I did not find that to be the case!

John Maxwell gives a formula in his book that I feel I lived out in 2015:  Preparation + Attitude + Opportunity + Action = Luck

Preparation: I didn’t know what I didn’t know; it was a year of learning and preparation for this year.

Attitude: It would have been easy to give up, and I did several times!  However, I didn’t stay down, and I’ve learned to recover from disappointment more and more quickly.

Opportunity:  Seek opportunities; Dale Carnegie said, “The man who grasps an opportunity as it is paraded before him, nine times out of ten makes a success, but the man who makes his own opportunities is, barring an accident, a sure-fire success.”

Action:  Be proactive, try different things, meet new people, and see what you can discover.

 

Take It Deeper

Which of these “growth gaps” have you bought into?  

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

 

For access to my tips for overcoming each of the growth gaps, check out my free video series!

 

Feed Your Soul

Standard

Once in a while, I feel I need to take a break from my life, run away, and get alone.  Do you ever feel like that?

IMG_6453

Fort Harrison, near Richmond, Virginia; photo by Tasha M. Troy

At times like that, I usually will take a short road trip, either a trip out to some of my favorite nearby natural sites or a day trip to a place a couple of hours away.  Most often, I take these excursions alone – just me and God.  If I do invite a friend along, it is because she is a highly trusted friend.

I always come back from these outings feeling refreshed, grounded, and centered, ready to face my life and the demands put upon me by clients, students, employers, friends, and family.

In order to practice connected influence or principled leadership, we must first connect with ourselves and with God.

John Maxwell teaches that the highest form of leadership is self-leadership.  This includes feeling connected to yourself and your purpose, understanding your strengths.  It also includes self-care.

As I write this, it is December 8 – smack-dab in the middle of the busy Christmas season.  It might be the hardest time of the year to engage in self-care.  However, I would venture that you won’t survive the next few weeks if you are not intentional about finding the time.

We cannot give what we do not have

Green Spring Garden, Virginia Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Green Spring Garden, Virginia
Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Whenever I talk to someone who is feeling stressed out – whether it’s a friend, client, student, whoever! – I tell them that everyday they need to do something that “feeds their soul.”  By this, I mean you need to do something everyday that you enjoy, that is just for you.

In the Law of Priorities, John Maxwell describes his “3 Rs” for setting priorities; the third one is “reward,” which means prioritizing the things that give you your greatest emotional payoff.  This is exactly what I mean when I say “feed your soul.”

Feed Your Soul

This doesn’t need to take a long time; 5 or 10 minutes will suffice for many activities.  Here are some suggestions, mostly things that I do; this list is by no means exhaustive!

  • Take a short walk outside.
  • Take a 10-minute nap.
  • Read a chapter in a book you enjoy (not required reading).
  • Eat your favorite food (you still gotta eat dinner right?  Make it something you enjoy!)
  • Call a loved one and have a short (or long) conversation.
  • Take a hot bath and light candles (one of my favorites!)
  • Play with your pet(s); if you don’t have one, borrow one!
  • Spend 5 mindful minutes breathing deeply and listening to the sounds around you.

What suggestions do you have for a quick recharge when you’re feeling tired, stressed, or “out of sorts”?

 

Resources

One of the things I love the most about John Maxwell’s 7-Day Experiment in Intentional Living is how focused it is on creating stronger relationships with the people around you.  Join the intentional living movement!  Click here to start your 7-day experiment with John Maxwell!