I was in the middle of a routine development feedback session with a senior executive. We were surveying his strengths and developmental opportunities that arose out of a lengthy and extensive assessment process. Things were going well with this high performing executive.
I then asked him to
“Imagine yourself in your dream job that may not currently exist where you get deep satisfaction and make a huge contribution to your organization and subsequently the world.”
We hit an inspirational nerve.
He leaned forward on the edge of his chair, took a deep breath, did not even blink, and could hardly contain his excitement as the words tumbled out.
“My most cherished dream is that ……” (for the sake of confidentiality I cannot tell you what he said)
But I can tell you why he responded this way and it will give you a clue as to how you can have a similar response.
The components of hitting an inspirational nerve are
1. Part of the core of your character. Your highest aspirations and deepest desires are driven by your values. They are not generated by insecurity, ambition, status, or the ego. In my books they come from the soul.
2. A component of your history. Inspiration is generally about what you have already done in the past even if only in bits and pieces. It has always been a part of the fabric of your life. When you operated at this level you were energized, excited, and highly productive.
3. Connected to a collaborative effort. Inspiration seldom occurs in a vacuum as an individual effort. As you collaborated with others, had a grand vision, faced impossible odds, found creative ways to delight a customer, changed the course of history in small and big ways, righted a wrong, and in generally served the greater good you hit that inspirational nerve.
4. Involved when you use your strengths. Playing to one’s strengths sets the stage for inspiration. It can also involve a discovery of strengths that you never dreamed you had.
An armchair dreamer never became an inspired person.
Exciting visions have to be wedded with realistic and robust actions. This same executive knew exactly what he was going to do even though no such inspiring position currently existed in his organization. He had to
1. Develop a clear statement of the need for the position stated both in the return on the investment and a compelling story that would touch people at an emotional level to support his dream.
2. Influence key stakeholders who would sponsor him in the quest to realize this dream.
3. Be prepared for resistance because the position he envisioned was not a part of the core culture and mission of the organization
4. Demonstrate the payoff for investing in his idea. The latter would involve both a financial payoff for his group as well as the enhancement of the organization’s brand
You may not see yourself in this picture because your dream seems a solo effort. But to be inspired you still need to take action because you were born with an inspirational nerve.
Here are some questions to ponder
1. Can you give a clear and compelling statement, preferably in the form of a story, of your inspirational goal?
2. Do you have key people who support you along the way with some of them having the willingness and capability to open doors of opportunity for you?
3. Are you willing to persist in the face of the resistance you will get from a variety of sources e.g. naysayers, lack of funding, your own self-doubt?
If you answer yes to these questions you are by now on the edge of your seat in a heightened state of excitement. You are on the brink of living your dream.
So tell us about your dream. I would love to be one of those who gives you support on that journey.
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