Strategic Planning For The Soul

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I’ve always enjoyed the adventure of strategic planning. I call it an “adventure” because it requires one to truly explore the meaning and philosophy of a corporate soul.

A corporate soul differs from a human soul in that the former comprises an entity of many individual souls. With so many human souls making up its psyche, it’s often entertaining to watch as these individuals confuse their personal souls with the corporation’s soul.

OK, I admit this is a form of voyeuristic cynicism, but look, people are egocentric. And the higher up the corporate ladder they rise, the more egocentric they tend to be. And the higher up the corporate ladder they rise, the more likely they tend to be involved with strategic planning meetings.

So, it’s only natural, as an innocent bystander, to sit in on these things and watch with delight as executives confuse their moral compass with the needs of consumers and the demands of other corporate constituencies. After they’ve exhausted themselves, that’s when I usually step in.

Let’s explore this concept of “strategic planning” a little bit. As with all else (see “History’s Greatest Quest”) we’ll begin with the Greeks. The word “strategic” derives from the Greek “strategos” and roughly translates to “general.” In ancient Greece, generals would advise their leaders on the arrangements of the battles within the greater war (the strategy) as opposed to the particulars of any specific battle (the tactics).

The modern roots of applying strategic planning to business (as opposed to military) applications dates back to the 1920s when the Harvard Business School developed the Harvard Policy Model. However, the concept really took off with the evolution of operations management during World War II. With this, the philosophy of strategic planning combined with the mathematical rigors of operations management to successfully run large scale initiatives.

Several years after selling my second business and shortly before starting my third business, I decided to plant a personal stake in the strategic planning process. I wanted to go beyond what others had done, but I wanted to employ a process with a strong academic foundation. As a result, I bought a book called Beyond Entrepreneurship: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company by James Collins and William Lazier.

For any company, whether a start-up or an established firm, the strategic planning method outlined in this book, could prove very helpful. It certainly was for me, and it can be for you, too. Using it helps explain the nature and purpose of your firm to your (current and future) partners, your clients, and your employees.

Indeed, the Lifetime Dream Process has many attributes akin to the strategic planning process.

First and foremost, both require an overarching vision. In the case of the company, it’s a standard philosophy, a set of core values and beliefs. In the case of an individual or a couple, it’s their moral ethic or personal Creed and, ultimately, the meaning of their life.

Second, both utilize a long-range view, forcing participants to focus on the ultimate objectives, not the near-term obstacles or short-term goals.

But the difference between the strategic planning process and the Lifetime Dream Process is as wide as the Grand Canyon. In a corporate strategic planning session, executives emphasize the numbers end of things. After all, the purpose of any organization remains the maximization of some number. In the case of a for-profit business, that number is (or should be) “profits.” In the case of a non-profit group, the number may be “clients serviced” or “donations” to name a few.

For the individual, however, you need to dig deeper to obtain the greatest benefit. Like the Boy Scout “Start, Stop, Continue” process outlined in the previous chapter (“Do Self-Assessments Really Work?”), the standard strategic planning process works well when the application requires consensus among a large group of individuals. Users of the Lifetime Dream Process, however, can afford the luxury of catering to the specific needs of only one person or one couple.

And to provide for those needs, we require those individuals to explore their inner desires. Quite a few people I’ve taken through the Lifetime Dream Process stand convinced it represents a spiritual process. Even though I created it as a college undergraduate to help organize my time and energy, I won’t argue with them.

I’ve learned the Process is malleable. It can conform to the needs of the user in ways its creator (me) never expected. Indeed, having guided so many people through the Process, I can now say the Process adheres greatest to those who discover some spiritual component within it. Mind you, this is a non-denominational/non-sectarian sort of spirituality. Here’s the best way I can describe this: Unlike the sterile strategic planning process, the Lifetime Dream Process connects to your very soul.

Ironically, our next chapter reveals how this spiritual component differs from that of a much used religious-based program. In doing so, you’ll also discover why the Lifetime Dream Process is not merely a fancy financial planning exercise.

How To Declare Independence And Start Pursuing Your Happiness

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Many folks think Thomas Jefferson “borrowed” the phrase “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” from John Locke. The 17th Century British philosopher and physician famously wrote, in the unsigned Second Treatise Concerning Civil Government, that government exists to protect one’s life, liberty, and property. Sounds awfully similar to the words used by our Founding Father nearly ninety years later.

Significantly, Locke’s focus on personal “property” breaks from the sense of Thomas Hobbes. In his 1651 treatise Leviathan, Hobbes paints a sovereign-centric ideal. In this “social contract,” citizens cede personal freedoms to the ruler in exchange for protection. Without such protection, the contract is invalidated.

Bear in mind, Hobbes wrote this while in exile during the English Civil War between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists. He rejected Aristotle’s premise that man is driven by Continue Reading “How To Declare Independence And Start Pursuing Your Happiness”

Why America’s Founding Secretly Influences You

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You don’t have to be an American to say you’re an American. That was the whole idea of the American Experiment – it was meant for all nations, not just those uppity Tea Partiers who frolicked in Boston Harbor a few centuries back. But this experiment didn’t start with the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence or even the United States Constitution. It began with a collection of oppressed runaways and an accidental metaphor that endures to this day.

After reading a perhaps too rosy account of the Plymouth Colony by the Pilgrims Edward Winslow and William Bradford, excitement grew in England to establish more companies to Continue Reading “Why America’s Founding Secretly Influences You”

The Secret to Getting Anything You Want

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History’s Greatest Quest

“TELL ME, O MUSE, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them…”

(BOOK I, The Odyssey, Homer ca 800 BC)

Before embarking on the journey you are about to take, some self-doubt is normal and healthy. But it shouldn’t hold you back. The very nature of self-discovery resides in your blood.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll reveal how and why this is so. I’ll explain to you why your Continue Reading “The Secret to Getting Anything You Want”

Pyrrhus and Cineas – The True Story Behind The Origin Of The ‘Fisherman’s Parable’

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Ferdinand Bol, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ferdinand Bol, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you search “Fisherman’s Parable,” you’ll find dozens of sites repeating what is commonly labeled in terms of the parable of the “Mexican” fisherman. In truth, most of these sites merely repeat a variation on a theme akin to the “Sicilian” variation told to me by my grandfather.

These sites tend to declare the original author of this story is “anonymous.” A few of the more honest ones cite a specific source, namely Heinrich Theodor Böll, a German writer who received the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Böll wrote a short story in 1963 titled “Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral” (“Anecdote Concerning the Lowering of Productivity”). Rather than a Harvard MBA, the interlocutor is a “smartly-dressed enterprising” tourist. Instead of being Sicilian (or Mexican, for that matter), the “shabbily dressed local” fisherman was found resting at an unnamed harbor on the west coast of Europe. The rest of the story, including its ironic conclusion, remains very similar.

Still, we can’t credit Böll with an original philosophical insight. In fact, the original source Continue Reading “Pyrrhus and Cineas – The True Story Behind The Origin Of The ‘Fisherman’s Parable’”

What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?

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You have 24 hours left…

…which life did you choose?

Where has your time gone? Another hour. Another day. Another week. Another month. Another year. Another decade! That literary classic gathers dust on your shelf – for how long? That great idea stagnates in your head – how else will people recognize your talents? Your children mature more every day – what was it you wanted to teach them? Your financial papers pile up – they’re not the priority right now! You trash another set of expired travel brochures – “One of these days…”

– or –

You live the fulfilling life of comfort and satisfaction you thought only possible in your wildest dreams. Your successful and healthy family brings smiles of pride whenever you think of them. You’re living where you want to. You’re spending your time with close friends and family. You’ve accomplished much. You’ve endowed your community. Your colleagues respect you. Your children praise you. You proudly own no more and no less than you want and need. Life is good.

Imagine Your Dreams – Now Make Them Come True!

Remember those dreams you had when you were a kid? As children we played many imaginative games. We became explorers, astronauts, and deep-sea divers. We emulated our favorite sports champions, movie stars, and storybook idols. We pretended we were space heroes and aliens. No adventure – real or fantastic – seemed impossible.

Do you still dream? Do you want to make your dreams come true? What kinds of dreams do you have?

Do you crave the best for your family? Do you aspire to become a community leader and role model? Do you dream of pursuing delightful activities? Do you have a secret wish to accomplish your deepest desires? Do you yearn to live the fantasies you thought you could only dream of?

What if I told you, “You could get what you want when you want it?” Would you like to discover how? (Then keep reading!) Would you think it would cost too much? (You’re probably already paying for it!) Would you think you’re too busy to take advantage of it? (It takes no more time than going to the movie theatre or a sporting event once a year!) Would you think it would take a lot of work? (It requires no more effort than it takes to complete a popular magazine’s personality test!) Would you think you don’t have the discipline to carry it out? (You don’t need the discipline! There’s a template for that!)

How Often Do You Hear Yourself Saying: “No, not yet, but I’ll get around to it.”

Honestly, when did you last really think about your Lifetime Dream? If you’re like most people, you always thought your Lifetime Dream was “pie-in-the-sky.” It was fun to contemplate while you lounged on your armchair, but that was the extent of it. Besides, you have too little time to do the things you have to do, let alone the things you want to do. You have other priorities. You have too many unexpected interruptions disrupting your day. You’re too busy answering other peoples’ orders. More to the point, you never took accomplishing your Lifetime Dream too seriously. You never developed a game plan to succeed.

Sure, you want to achieve your Lifetime Dream, but what about the risk? Behavioral scientists have discovered people’s aversion to loss usually trumps the potential for reward. The joy of accomplishment motivates you towards achieving your Lifetime Dream. On the other hand, a powerful series of demotivators keep you sitting in your armchair. Which of these demotivates you the most? Is it loss of security? Is it self-doubt? Is it fear of failure? Is it fear of change? Is it the never-ending burden of other duties?

How You and Your Family Can Live a Happy, Fulfilling and Rewarding Life

Oddly enough, before you address the demotivators, you must first firmly establish the vision of your Lifetime Dream. A simple 5-step Lifetime Dream Process begins the most exciting and most satisfying journey of your life. The Lifetime Dream Process, outlined briefly in “What’s Your Dream? (Here’s How To Capture It),” Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, January 20, 2022, applies techniques first used successfully by Socrates and improved by Aristotle. The Lifetime Dream Process contains the critical elements exploited by the most successful copywriters – those experts who, with consistency and accuracy, can best target the needs and wants of all different kinds of people.

Initially developed by a Yale undergraduate to productively manage a broad array of academic and extracurricular activities and formally documented following the 1987 stock market crash, the Lifetime Dream Process has been effectively used and refined through years of actual practice. The Lifetime Dream Process is easy-to-understand. In plain language and with fun parlor games, it quickly locates your most pressing needs, your deepest desires and your ultimate dreams. In less time than it takes to go to the movie theater or a sporting event, you’ll not only have identified your Lifetime Dream, but you will have designed a clear plan to attain it. Once the plan is created, you don’t need to maintain it – it maintains itself! You only need to periodically update it.

The Lifetime Dream Process represents a life plan. It’s comprehensive. It supersedes other popular “plans.” For example, unlike a typical financial plan, it helps you avoid an all-too-common mistake. Too many people leap before they look – they pick an investment objective before they completely outline their Lifetime Dream. Unfortunately, the investment industry inadvertently encourages this error as too many firms merely manage money. As a thorough procedure, the Lifetime Dream Process prevents you from chasing the stock market and focuses your attention on chasing your dreams.

That is why it would be very much to your advantage to accept this opportunity at once. Take a moment to learn about how the Lifetime Dream Process can work for you. Just a few hours start you on the journey to achieving your Lifetime Dream!

Not many people get the chance to achieve their Lifetime Dream. Fewer still actually accomplish the feat. One thing we know for sure, anyone who fails to design a roadmap to their Lifetime Dream never has the chance to realize the triumph. Before time passes you by, act now and give yourself that chance – the chance of a lifetime!

To People Who Have A Dream – But Can’t Get Started

By now, you realize from the statements made the Lifetime Dream Process will improve your lifestyle, your relationships, your prestige, and your wealth. You know these techniques have been successfully used for centuries. You know the quality of the Lifetime Dream Process is what you would naturally expect from any well-respected life coaching method.

But picture in your own mind why it is so desirable for you to enjoy immediately the advantages the Lifetime Dream Process offers to you. Surely the comfort of knowing you will now march to a greater purpose and not merely spin your wheels will instantly improve your poise and self-confidence. Imagine how this suddenly advances your lifestyle in much more than a material sense. Indeed, no doubt social and business contacts will quickly detect a greater gravitas in your bearing.

And, of course, the clear sense of purpose redefines and redirects the relationships between you and those closest to you. This is likewise very much worthwhile to you. You can certainly think of many more interesting ways your focused direction will have a positive impact on your loved ones. Visualize the monetary and spiritual wealth you gain from the Lifetime Dream Process. That is why it would be very much to your benefit to embrace this prospect immediately. Another reason why urgent action on your part can prove valuable stems from the fact we only possess a finite number of hours in our lives. Getting started on the Lifetime Dream Process may merely take a few hours of your time, but investing those hours today gives you that many more to use to realize the dreams of your life.

Devoting only a small amount of time right now starts you on the most fabulous voyage of your life, the journey to achieving your Lifetime Dream!

…to be continued…

What’s Your Dream? (Here’s How To Capture It)

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The vision of the three mountains

The original vision that was my “sure winner” in the Florence Brasser art contest. It didn’t win. Then. But The Vision ultimately prevailed.

You have a dream. It may be new. It may have been lingering in the back of your mind for years. Either way, you have a dream.

And it’s compelling.

If you’re like most people, you’re wondering “How can I achieve this dream?” If you’re ambitious (and who isn’t?), you’re wondering, “How can I accomplish my LIFETIME Dream?”

Many years ago, I wrote a column about an ironic first-place award I received in an art contest (see, “Sometimes Second Best Turns Out To Be the Very Best,” Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, March 20, 2016).

I say “ironic” because the winning drawing was a throwaway picture not meant for the Continue Reading “What’s Your Dream? (Here’s How To Capture It)”

Would You Rather Be Free or Equal?

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I call it the “Dichotomy Game.” It acts as a great conversation starter. I use it for more than that. But that’s another story. I will, however, explain how you can play it at home with your friends and family.

First, everyone must remove any self-imposed restrictions on their imagination. You need to think with complete freedom, without the artificial constraints of peer pressure, political correctness, of fear of being made fun of. In other words, you must be completely honest with yourself and with the other folks playing the game.

Ok, have you limbered up those rusty synapses in your brain? Now it’s time to create a list of dichotomies. A dichotomy is a pair of words. In the game you look at each pair of words presented and choose one. Then the game begins.

A word about dichotomies: these aren’t randomly selected pairs of words. They are carefully chosen to cause those aforementioned synapses to fire intensely. (Don’t worry, this mental heat is what fuels the fun in the game).

Here’s a trick that will help you choose enticing dichotomies. To get the gist of this trick, Continue Reading “Would You Rather Be Free or Equal?”

The Aging Curse

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I sit here watching as Rob Lowe tells us in so many words of the highs and lows of the decade of the 1980s. As I view old news clips of thin ties and big bouncing perms with their constant fluttering curls, I sadly lament the innocence lost, the people lost, the dreams lost. I see in those once thin and optimistic faces the images of people I have known. Not all of them, but far too many.

In those faces I saw the hope for the future, a future that would never be. I lament those souls of time past. Perhaps it’s the Continue Reading “The Aging Curse”

A Career vs. A Calling

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Every college graduate faces this same unknown upon graduating: How can I begin my career?

The last few weeks of college produce a rush of events. With long-term deadlines expiring in rat-a-tat-tat fashion, students push themselves at the end of their final term as if on autopilot. Their Spartan goal is to just survive from one deadline to another. Decision making becomes autonomous. They focus on “the quickest way to get from Point A to Point B” (with “Point B” almost always being walking across the stage to receive the coveted diploma).

In all this confusion, there comes a moment when the student thinks “did I fire six shots or only five?” In other words, and in a translation those not acquainted with the Eastwood canon might recognize: “Did I forget to unplug the iron?” With everything complete, there’s a few days respite before graduation when the student has a chance to breathe. That’s when there’s finally time for the student to assess things. That’s when the gnawing feeling that they forget something important takes hold.

Immediately after the celebration of graduation ends, there’s a temptation to view the Continue Reading “A Career vs. A Calling”