How to begin

I’ve spent a great deal of my working life managing projects. I’ve designed TV studios and production facilities, began new companies and divisions of companies, guided large church projects – complex, multilevel projects with many facets all intertwined and interdependent on each other.

Taking a large project and being successful begins with a tremendous amount of questioning and understanding. It’s not just the technical side or the logistics, tough certainly these are important. But there is also a personal and even spiritual side of a project, where you learn the soul and motivations and pressures and fears of the key people and the organization.

This is often the most frustrating part of a project, because to a client, it often seems that nothing is “happening” as I probe, ask questions, clarify, draft a rough plan, and then constantly re-arrange that plan as I learn new things.

And yet, when the project is done, clients come to realize that much of the success was due to taking time, at the beginning, to understand the whole picture of what is important. When this part of the project planning is done well, projects go well. When it’s done poorly, almost inevitably, the project goes poorly.

When we begin to think we need to change our lives, we often bypass this step, or give it only a cursury nod. This is particularly true for us Americans, where we think of progress in terms of doing something.

If you look at all the great self development literature, or the books on positive thinking or the Law of Attraction, they all use visualization as a key element of drawing what you want in life to you. However you think that happens – whether it’s God (my belief), or the Universe, or some other power, no matter what term you use for that power, they all say the same thing – if you can visualize clearly what you want in life, and think on it constantly, you are taking a big step towards making it happen for yourself.

It is, these wisdom writers all tell us, essential.

This is not as simple as it seems, this visualizing what we want. I have found, both as a manager of projects, and as someone who works with individuals who want change in their lives, that people rarely want what they come to me at the beginning wanting. It is only after taking time and going through a process of thinking, reflecting and refining that what we really want and need comes to light.

Launching into a project, or a life change without going through this process will almost always bear some results, some change, but in the end, it will also leave us still unsatisfied.  We’ll end up repeating the cycle of doing things and making change and ending up unsatified again and again, frustrated because we’re doing all this work, yet still not getting what we want.

Ah…. what we want.

Years ago, I used to think every time I looked for work that what I wanted was more money. So I jumped into jobs that gave me more money. And more money. And more money.

Cool, huh?

But here’s ‘what I noticed – even though I had worked myself up to having more money, I hit a point where my lifestyle did not change as my paycheck rose. And still, I wasn’t very happy.

That was like a slap in the face. So I stepped back, abandoned the more money mantra, and finally, really, looked at what I wanted. Yes, money is good and we need it and I like what it buys, but what ELSE? What was missing.

This was not a short process  This time, I took the time and thought, and rethought. I read back in my old journals (I am a constant journaler from way back). I looked for trends in thought, when I felt good about what I did, when I felt less good. Where my thinking had been clear, and when it had been less clear.

And I found the key elements that made work good for me. And work since then has been something special, something I have had passion for, not just done.

And along the way, I’ve made some money.

The point is this – if we really want to find change. That’s easy. But if we want to have the right kind of change – change that leaves us feeling energized and passionate and successful at the deepest level, we have to invest in a process of discovery. Self discovery.

You can flounder away half a life like I did and you might get there. Or you can be systematic and persistent and get there in a few weeks or months. But don’t kid yourself, if you don’t go through the process, all the work you do to make change will only be half effective. And you’ll end up doing it again and again.

Me? I’m lazy. And I’ve found that if I invest the time up front asking and being honest about myself, and learning….. then the rest of the project, the rest of life, is easier. It comes together. It’s less work than an adventure.

If I had paid attention to all the wisdom writers I’ve read, instead of moving past the self examination section (in total pride, after all, I knew what I wanted, didn’t I?) to the doing sections, I’d have had a better life much earlier than I finally got it.

But I do learn.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about some of the steps involved in self discovery. Don’t kid yourself, it’s work. Self honesty is always hard work. But in the big picture, it’s the lazy man’s way to success, because once we “get” ourselves at a deep level, then we have done most of the hard work towards getting what we want. We can visualize and turn loose the power that brings.

Take care. Journey Wisely,


Lesson 38
From the Wisdom Cards blog:

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