4 Simple Ways Leaders Can Follow Their True North

February 26th, 2012 by LaRae Quy

Most of us are passive spectators in our life. We plan careers, retirement nest eggs, and vacations, but we do not plan our life. As a result, we don’t live our life on purpose.

True North

Is it any wonder that many of us feel unfulfilled and not following our higher calling? We are not empowered and are no longer active participants in the direction our life is going.

Research has shown that people who regularly write down their goals earn as much as nine times more than their counterparts who do not write down goals.

  • Over 80% of Americans do not have goals
  • 16% say they do have goals but don’t write them down
  • Less than 4% actually write them down

Guess who they are? They are the ones making nine times more than the rest of us.

Without goals to anchor us, we find ourselves adrift in life. We may think we know what our goals are, but if we aren’t living our life around them, then we’re not living our life on purpose.

A goal is a dream set to paper. If you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?

In a previous post, I shared the story of Oleg, a KGB officer that I met while working as an FBI undercover agent a few years ago. Neither Oleg nor the Russians knew that the FBI had identified him as a Russian Intelligence Officer.

If they had, he would have been sent back to Moscow immediately.

Oleg’s cover was a Russian businessman involved with the joint venture. I represented myself as an individual working for an international public relations company.

We met at a seminar, but the one thing we never talked about was his work.

It wasn’t that Oleg couldn’t talk about some aspects of his overt job; it was that he didn’t want to talk about them. He couldn’t drum up enough enthusiasm about the job to even keep up a good conversation. His lack of engagement in what he was doing was a clue that he was not doing something he felt passionate about.

Oleg was not following his True North. Somewhere along the line, he had compromised and had settled for less than his dream.

Here are 4 ways I encouraged Oleg to empower himself and start following his true north:

1. Explore Lifetime Goals

I encouraged Oleg to look deeper into the goals he set for himself in each of the areas listed below. It helped for him to look at each aspect of his life as a spoke in a wheel, with each leading to the hub, which is the heart. To have a balanced life, each spoke needs attention.

  • Career
  • Spirituality
  • Education
  • Recreation
  • Travel
  • Relationships
  • Family
  • Health
  • Financial

As I got to know Oleg better, I’d probe about the important aspects of each spoke—not all in one day, but over time—and ask how much attention he gave to each of them, and what his goals were in each area.

2. Be Specific

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” B.J. Marshall

I encouraged Oleg to be specific with his answers. How many of us go into a restaurant and say, “Bring me food?” Instead, we’re very specific, picking what we want from the menu, and sometimes asking for substitutions to what is offered.

Do not just say, “My goal is to be more spiritual.”

  • Be specific.
  • Articulate ways in which you will be more spiritual in the 6 months, in the next year, in the next 5 years.
  • Write down your goal in clear and vivid terms.
  • List the steps needed to get there.

3. Own It

As I talked to Oleg about his goals, I learned that, besides relationships with his family, his goals were to travel and write. He had fallen into a rut in his career at an early age and was now afraid to move away from a secure job and retirement.

At some point, Oleg needed to learn that he was either living his own life or someone else’s dream for him. He was not setting his own course, and it left him empty and unfulfilled in his work and life.

  • Review your list of goals.
  • Write down reasons why your idea or goal will work.
  • Acknowledge issues that will need to be overcome.

4. Start a Life Plan

Never ask, Can I do this? Instead ask, How can I do this?

Living your life on purpose is an intentional act. It requires a simple plan to set your goals in action. Start by answering these questions:

  • Envisioned future – when and how is the goal functioning at it’s best
  • Inspiration – identify scripture, books, poems, speakers and authors from which to draw inspiration
  • Current reality – be honest; where are you in relation to the envisioned future
  • Specific actions needed – list what you will need to do to accomplish your goal

Writing down his goals helped Oleg to gain clarity on what he really wanted to do in life. Once he took ownership of his future, he was able to break it down and follow his True North. As it turned out, Oleg’s higher calling turned out to not be the KGB, and he resigned to begin a new career in writing.

How did you find your True North? What tips can you share about how to live your True North with intention? What can you share about your implementation of a life plan?

Article first published on www.linked2leadership.com

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LaRaeQuy


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8 Responses to “4 Simple Ways Leaders Can Follow Their True North”

  1. Monopoly City is not only fun for your kids and the family, but it also teaches important lessons and values about money–including the work and planning that goes into building their own dream city.

  2. It’s quite staggering how very few of us actually decide to take the first step of writing down our goals. Some of my friends always say to me that I should think of the now.. and not the future – but what they seem to overlook is the fact that living in the moment is in fact planning for the future. Making today your best day will make your future aligned -as long as you know where you’re going. I’m only 20 years of age, but I’m doing my best to ensure I give my life everything its worth. 🙂

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi David

      Thanks for your comment – and good for you that you give your life everything it’s worth! Because, in the end, it’s all we have. I agree with you – the best way to live for the future is to understand what puts a smile on our face in the now.

      The best of luck to you and stay in touch!

  3. LaRae, aloha. To begin, let me tell you how much I love the image you selected for this post. Its beauty is mesmerizing to me.

    Because I know your desire to write, how interesting to learn that Oleg left the KGB to pursue writing. With your skillful questioning as well as your interests, Oleg must have become completely at ease with you.

    LaRae, you are so right that most people fail to plan which means they plan to fail. One of the best books I have ever read on this topic was written years ago by Hyrum Smith–“The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management” published in 1994.

    Why I recommend it is because reading this book will helps people to determine their core values. Once they do that, it will be much easier for them to schedule time and to take control of their lives.

    The book is divided into two segments. Part I is Managing Your Time and Part II is Managing Your Life.

    Once people go through the process, LaRae, they learn much about themselves and what truly matters to them. Once they know the answer to that, they can make better decisions.

    Wishing you a week of peace, joy and abundance in all that matters to you. Until next time, aloha. Janet

  4. Hi LaRae, I have found through the U of L (as you so wisely called the University of Life in a previous post) that my life seems to be a roller coaster ride in the dark. I don’t anticipate the turns ahead, but if I relax and enjoy the ride instead of being anxious to get off the ride, I will do much better.

    I have had goals in life (though haven’t written them down), and achieved them. But much of the good that has happened to me in life has had absolutely no resemblance to my goals.

    Your Oleg stories fascinate me. I look forward to learning more about him and how his life has changed with his career. You and he share similarities, moving from a life of espionage to a life of writing.

    Have you ever considered putting your vast knowledge to work in writing fiction? I imagine it could be a best seller!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi Carolyn

      You know you’re my hero in the hi-tech world . . . Oleg and I identified on many levels which is what made the relationship authentic and not forced – something very rare in the world of undercover work. Even though we were on different sides, I respected Oleg and he sensed that in me. He will be showing up in my blogs as I move through the recruitment process that ultimately brought Oleg over to our side (names have been changed!)

      Interestingly enough, I tried to write a fiction account of my story and found that it was hollow. It was not “fun” and so I dropped it. I love writing blogs, however, because I can share from a genuine perspective. Perhaps it’s my years of working undercover, but I yearn for honesty and transparency these days . . . so non-fiction it is – for now!

      Thanks for dropping by and please stay in touch as the story of Oleg unfolds . . . 🙂

  5. Now that you mentioned it, I think now would be a great time to start writing everything that I want to achieve. I would use the SMART objective formula, if you’re familiar with it, and write everything down. It’s amazing to know that those people who actually write their goals down earn as much as nine times more than those who don’t write their goals down.

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi Gerald

      Yes, writing down goals seems to solidify in people’s minds what they are thinking. I know it works for me. The best of luck in identifying what you want to achieve and articulating it in such a way that it stays in your thoughts!

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