When I was nine years old, my parents dragged me to a sermon that was dreadfully boring, yet held little sparks of inspiration. I found myself lying in bed that night pondering the speaker’s final words over and over again in my mind. What might you contribute to society?
Thirty years later, I find myself nearing the publication of a nonfiction self-help book—the culmination of a life’s work. Again I lie in bed at night pondering a variation on that old, familiar question. How will I see my dream—my heartfelt contribution—through to success?
My mission is simple. I seek to empower people in all walks of life to make use of the extraordinary human capacities that are freely available within them. My book is a kind of owner’s manual that offers tools and techniques on how to maximize our potential in the course of our everyday lives. It explores all the things that we ought to have learned about ourselves in youth, yet likely missed out on while we were busy getting an education.
My goal is not to simply publish a book, but to start a movement. I wonder what society might someday look like when each of our citizens—young and old—commands both the tools and the craft to make the most of his or her life and to bring out the best in our shared world.
But how exactly do you start a successful movement? How do you realize a dream?
Last night I had an odd encounter that shed light on these questions. Seeking advice and wisdom, I sat down at an imaginary table in my mind and called upon two great leaders, each with a history of “starting successful movements.”
I closed my eyes and I began to visualize a conference room. I seated myself at a simple table with two empty chair across from me. I invited my imaginary counselors to enter the room. On the left, Thomas Jefferson gestured a hello and quickly seated himself. He was followed by Martin Luther King Junior, who shook my hand and then took his seat as well.
“Thanks for joining me here,” I said, feeling rather humbled. “I’ll get right to the question. What advice might you offer on how to start a successful movement?”
They both gazed at me with undivided attention.
“Well let me pipe right in,” Mr. Jefferson said with a somewhat cocky smile. “To begin with, you must be crystal clear on what is most important about the movement. What is the heart of your mission?”
I stared blankly for a moment, then spontaneously replied, “to support people in claiming authority over their own lives and circumstances.”
Jefferson smiled. "Very well,” he said.
Reverend King then cleared his throat. “The next question you must ask yourself is this: do people recognize the importance of this mission as it relates to their everyday lives? If so, the movement will soon unfold of its own accord. If not, you will have to focus your efforts on bringing visibility to the importance of this mission.”
Almost instantly, the men and the room dissolved. I found myself rather surprised by the result of the exercise and the insights that it offered. I was reminded of just how powerful dialogue can be, even in brief spurts. As such, I figured: why not open a dialogue with the actual people in my life on this very same topic? Maybe some will find it interesting and want to participate.
So it is that I welcome you to this blog. I’ll use it to document the final steps in turning a lifelong dream into a reality. I’ll explore the mysterious art of making things happen. I'll set out to raise visibility on this new movement. In documenting the process, I hope to offer something of value that helps you with whatever it is that you currently seek to unfold in your life. Similarly, I invite you to join in the dialogue by sharing your thoughts, stories and wisdom on matters that arise here, enriching my process as well. Perhaps together—whether through dialogue or in spirit—we can support one another in that fine art of making things happen for ourselves and others.
Here’s to the unfolding of our vast potential.