Word Count: 1280
Estimated Reading Time: 6.4 minutes
Note: Today’s post was written by my friend Samson Gichuki, a certified John Maxwell Coach and current Ph.D. student at Morgan State University.
“Everyone that’s successful lays a blueprint out.” – Kevin Hart
A Guide to Significance
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is well known for his I Have a Dream speech. But over his lifetime, he is believed to have given over 2,500 speeches. He spent the last quarter of his life fighting segregation, prejudice, and racial inequality. Despite his campaign against the oppression of the minority by the majority, I think that one of the most potent speeches against victim mentality that he gave was a speech he gave six months before his assassination. Dr. King was a guest speaker at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967. He had been invited to speak to a group of young students, unlike his usual audience of activists.
Dr. King began his speech by reminding the students of where they were in life and ended it with where they ought to be. What is common of the stage of life where the students were and the stage where you are today, is the power to create a life of significance. In his classic way of communicating Dr. King used a question to help the students visualize the map they must follow to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Fifty-two years later, I am borrowing the question from Dr. King’s address to help us to have a better remaining half of 2019 and get into the last half with clarity and focus to achieve all our goals. I ask you today, what’s in your life’s blueprint?
Satisfaction and happiness
Before I provide three critical ingredients to anyone’s life blueprint, I would like us to engage in an exercise. Take a clean sheet of paper. On one side of the paper write down three areas in your life that you are pleased about. On the other side, write three areas you are not pleased with. Once you are done with identifying these areas, go back to the first list and next to each area, write down why you are pleased with that area. Do this for all the 6 areas.
If you are like most people or at least like me, you will find out the following from this exercise. You are pleased with the areas of your life that match your expectation of how those areas should be. And, you are not pleased with the areas of your life which do not match or meet your expectations. The truth is, whether we intentionally set expectations for our life or not, we all live to meet certain expectations. What most people don’t realize is that these expectations stem out of our blueprints. As you might have found out from the exercise, you are satisfied and happy (or pleased) with areas where you see the results you expect and not satisfied or unhappy with areas where the results do not match your expectations. This reveals that our blueprint for life determines our satisfaction and happiness.
As we are about to begin the second half of 2019, I believe that we still have a chance to make the best out of it and get to the end with satisfaction and happiness. To do that, let’s examine three important and crucial ingredients of our blueprints. As we go through these ingredients, I want us to do two things: First, to remind ourselves what’s truly important based on our blueprints and second, to edit areas in the blueprint that’s needed for a victorious second half. Here are the ingredients:
If you have ever been enthralled by the human ingenuity of buildings in major cities like New York, remember that it all originated in someone’s vision. What is most fascinating, far beyond structures that humans have built is a life that has been built into something beautiful and significant. I believe that there is a legend in your life, whether in sports, politics or humanitarian causes, that you always admire. Their stories draw us to them. Through them, we learn how they began with only a vision or a dream and ended up achieving greatness. The reason why their stories capture our attention is because they point to something in us as well; vision.
Vision is a part of all of our blueprints. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are living our life based on a vision that is deeply ingrained in our being. Vision is what we see in the invisible world of how we ought to live our life. A blueprint connects the invisible and visible worlds. Therefore, the first important feature of any blueprint is the vision it communicates.
Knowing that you are living based on the vision communicated by our blueprints, two important questions to ask yourself are; what vision does my blueprint communicate to me? And, how aligned is where I am today with where my vision tells me I ought to be? Answering these two questions carefully will reveal the second important ingredient of a blueprint, character.
Whether designing a building or an aircraft, a blueprint is never complete without incorporating measurements and scales. Without measurements and scales, builders will never know how to turn a design into the finished product. If they use the wrong measurements and scales, the end-product will be substandard and fail to function at its optimum. As a structure’s blueprint shows measurements and scales giving it integrity, our life’s blueprint should communicate character.
While measurements and scales predetermine the extent to which a design will be built, our character presets the parameters of our lives. It governs our moral life and shapes our behavior. In the words of Dr. King, “Your life’s blueprint must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor.” I have discovered that to make Dr. King’s advice a reality, excellence and character must be incorporated into our life blueprints.
To ensure success in our endeavors come July 1, we must see to it that our blueprints communicate to us the character that will enable us to live with integrity and withstand pressure. In other words, we can predetermine our character long before we are faced with challenges that test who we are. And the way to do it is by choosing a blueprint that will allow us to behave in alignment with our vision.
Author and Leadership Expert Dr. John C. Maxwell calls attitude the difference maker. Winston Churchill summed it up as a little thing that makes a big difference. Silently but powerfully, our life’s blueprint will determine the attitude we possess. And our attitude or mental posture will dictate how we approach life.
As we enter the second half and examine our blueprints, keep in mind these three truths about your attitude:
- You can choose the attitude you express despite your surroundings.
- Your attitude will determine how you approach your second half.
- Your attitude will draw people to you or repel them from you.
Therefore, make sure that your blueprint allows you to have a great attitude that will make a positive difference in your second half.
Final thought: In the last month we have been in the process of evaluating our progress and preparing for the next half of the year. What will truly make a difference is faith. You must have faith that the second half matters and the possibilities are endless. You must find the right mental diet and have faith that it’s possible to play from behind and still win. I have faith that you can do it.
Keep on keeping on!